Israeli fiction can be taken as a test case for the possibility of a national narrative in which the actions of individuals enact and allegorize the people as an actor in history. The Hebrew tradition in narrative is action centered, focused on the public meaning of events, and predicated upon forward movement in history. Modern and postmodern literature is subject and consciousness centered, presupposes the incommensurability of interior and exterior realms of identity, and privileges the drift of language over the exemplarity of historical events. This course will propose that contemporary Israeli fiction is located at the crossroads of these contending narrative traditions. This proposition might serve to clarify the especially intimate articulation of public and literary discourse in Israel, where novels, plays and poems regularly spark political debates, major literary figures are routinely granted authority of comment on current events; and literary texts are invariably read as allegories of the meaning of Zionism and the relations between Israeli Jews and their internal and external "others". Even more, perhaps this polemic between narrative traditions provides a means of illuminating debates over the trajectory of a "post-Zionist", "post-Oslo" Israel. In this course we will read fictional texts that address these issues in a range of ways - texts that aim at recovering Biblical and Midrashic forms of narration, and texts that bring contemporary concerns with fractured and dispersed identities to bear on the Israeli situation. Of course, these might also be texts that bring traditional narration into dialogue with and add new dimensions to the explorations of contemporary literature. We will familiarize ourselves with contemporary debates and the views of some significant Israeli cultural critics. We will focus on the fiction, though, as meta-commentary on the daily commentaries. This course will be integrated with the contemporary Israeli authors series, in which leading Israeli writers are brought to Wesleyan. Students in the class will have special opportunities to engage in dialogue with our guests.
COURSE FORMAT: Seminar
Level: UGRD Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA RELI Grading Mode: Graded
Prerequisites: NONE Links to Web Resources For This Course.
Last Updated on MAR-30-2006
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