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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Jan 18, 2018
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JCIV 215 - Shlmiels&Sprhroes Jwsh PopCult
This course examines some of the major factors and influences that shaped Jewish popular culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. If we consider that art is an important agent in the transmission of culture, then we will approach these texts with a set of cultural questions and ask how Jewish Americanness is represented, reimagined, and performed across a diverse archive. Diving into the advice column in The Jewish Daily Forward, the Hebrew roots of Superman, or the humor of Seinfeld and Schumer, we will approach texts broadly as cultural artifacts that adopt, contest, define, and negotiate categories of Jewish and American identity.
We will consider questions of Jewish popular culture alongside Jewish identity: what is “Jewry”—a faith, a race, a nation? And how has this question changed over time? What does Jewishness mean for a writer like Anzia Yezierska in the early 20th century versus filmmakers like the Coen brothers in the early 21st century? Our primary materials will guide our examination of how major historical events of the 20th century—the Shoah, the establishment of the State of Israel, and patterns of immigration and assimilation—have shaped Jewish experiences in the United States. In addition, we will examine how ethnic identity intersects with gender, class, regional differences, and sexuality.
Throughout the course, we will develop a range of analytical strategies for investigating cultural texts and identify the specific rhetorical strategies of distinct genres. We will ask questions concerning the formal and thematic elements of genre, such as: how is this piece of art constructed? How would we define its structure? What the historical influences at play? How do we situate this work intertextually? At the end of the semester, you will have mastered essential strategies for reading, analyzing, and discussing Jewish popular culture. 

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Seminar

Jewish Civilization Department

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