Fresh Voices, Shifting Identities, and Unprecedented Diversity: Jewish American Literature in the Twenty-First Century
Most scholars of contemporary Jewish American literature harken back to the post-World War II Golden Age where the likes of Bellow, Malamud, and Roth forced the literary establishment to embrace Jewish consciousness as part and parcel of the American experience writ large. By the late Twentieth Century, a rich panoply of Jewish writers emerged as forces in their own right, many of whom brought much needed gender and cultural diversity into the forefront. Of course, many of these writers became prominent and are now part of the literary canon: Joseph Heller, Grace Paley, E.L. Doctorow, and Cynthia Ozick come to mind. Now, in the first decades of the Twenty-First Century, a dazzling array of Jewish American writers--many of them women--have come into prominence: including the likes of Alice Hoffman, Dara Horn, Allegra Goodman, Molly Antopol, Jonathan Lethem, Nathan Englander, Gary Shteyngart, and Michael Chabon. These writers continue to challenge what it means to be Jewish in America. In this course, we will seek out patterns of identity and affinity that are emerging and make sense of the literary landscape for Jewish American writers as we move deeper into this Century. I will employ one of the fine anthologies on Jewish American Literature and select a couple of representative novels that fit into this genre. These readings will be supplemented by a generous amount of documentary video and other relevant commentaries and essays.
Alan Goldberg, a USF faculty member for the past 35 years, has offered courses in American Literature and in Jewish Studies. He studied at the Univ. of Chicago, the Univ. of Hawaii, and S.F. State. A scholar in Jewish American literature with special concentration on the works of Bellow, Malamud, Roth, and Doctorow, he is currently exploring the current generation of Jewish American writers, such as Michael Chabon, Gary Shteyngart, Dara Horn, Meg Wolitzer, Alice Hoffman, among countless others. He studied under both Saul Bellow and Irving Halperin (late of Fromm) and was a keynote speaker at USF's Saul Bellow Symposium. He is currently championing the legacy of the late Philip Roth in response to recent revisionist critiques. As a lifelong devotee of baseball, he is researching this neglected sub-genre of American literature.