Jewish American Literature and Culture
JEW ST 357 / ENG 357
Professor: Joseph M. Butwin
MW 12:30-2:30 pm
Credits: 5 VLPA/DIV
Can we indeed speak of a coherent “Jewish American Literature and Culture” that gives the course its name? When is what we commonly call “culture” best described as a counter-culture? These are among the questions we will ask as we watch, read, and listen our way through the film, fiction, graphic and musical arts of America since 1945.
We will dive into Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” (1938) and Allen Ginsberg’s “America,” a poem written 20 years later. Add Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1993) and Philip Roth’s Plot Against America (2004), another fantasy that imagines America as a Fascist state after a misbegotten presidential election in 1940 plants Charles Lindbergh in the White House.
Additional materials we will explore include Woody Allen’s Love and Death (1975) and Annie Hall (1977), the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man (2009), Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1986), and songs from Kinky Friedman, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Assignments include lecture, discussion, short essays.