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.
Winding down a 35 year career at USF, Alan Goldberg has concentrated on the multi-cultural variants of Rhetoric in American Literature. He was educated at the Univ. of Chicago, the Univ. of Hawai’i, and SFSU. He was mentored by Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow at Chicago and Irving Halperin (late of the Fromm Institute) at SFSU. A scholar in Jewish American literature with special emphasis on the works of Bellow, Malamud, Roth, and Doctorow, he is presently exploring the current generation of prominent Jewish American writers. He is championing the legacy of the late Philip Roth in response to recent revisionist critiques. As a lifelong devotee of baseball, he is also researching sports in American literature. He and his Nicaraguan-American wife, Indiana Quadra-Goldberg, a retired CCSF Ethnic Studies professor with an emphasis on Latina/o literature, share a deep appreciation of African American and Hispanic American literature.