This course examines Ashkenazi Jewish literary narratives about geopolitical borders and border-crossing though travel and migration, engaged with questions about the linguistic borders of Yiddish itself. As a diasporic language, Yiddish has long been constructed as subversively internationalist or cosmopolitan, raising questions about the relationships between language and nation, vernacularity and statelessness.
This course explores the questions: How do the diasporic elements of the language produce literary possibilities? How do the “borders” of Yiddish shape its poetics? How do Yiddish poets and novelists thematize their historical experiences of immigration and deportation? And how has Yiddish literature informed the development of other world literatures through contact and translation?
Literary and primary texts will include the work of Anna Margolin, Alexander Harkavy, Peretz Markish, Dovid Bergelson, Yankev Glatshteyn, Yosef Luden, S. An-sky, and others. Theoretical texts will include writing by Wendy Brown, Dilar Dirik, Gloria Anzaldúa, Wendy Trevino, Agamben, Arendt, Weinreich, and others. The course will incorporate Yiddish journalism and essays, in addition to poetry and prose. All material will be in English.