Is America the Promised Land or a cultural waste land? In this first-year seminar, we will explore how a series of Jewish writers have grappled with this complicated question, from the period of the great migration from Europe up to the present. The writers we will study include Abraham Cahan, Mary Antin, Henry Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, Grace Paley, Philip Roth, and Cynthia Ozick. Among the specific questions we will address are the following: How does Jewish identity transform in the New World? How do ideas from the religious traditions of Judaism get translated into new forms? What kind of stories do Jewish writers tell about the past and what sort of future do they envision? We will also consider the Jewish response to such phenomena as the backlash against immigrants in the 1920s, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. Requirements include short response papers and a term paper.