JUDAIC 317 - Topics in Judaic Studies
Section: 003 The view from Below: American Modernity and the Lower East Side
Term: WN 2010
Subject: Judaic Studies (JUDAIC)
Department: LSA Judaic Studies
Waitlist Capacity:
Class Misc Info:
This class satisfies the American Literature requirement for English concentrators.
May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

From the early nineteenth century well into the twentieth, New York City’s Lower East Side was home to generations of immigrants, Jewish and other, and a powerful symbol for Americans seeking to make sense of rapid changes in the nation’s culture and social life. In this course, we’ll explore various responses to the Lower East Side as a place for the lived experience of diaspora and difference; a site of Jewish tradition and memory; and a crucible for the making of modern America and its citizens. Beginning with journalism, fiction, guidebooks, and popular images of the nineteenth century, we’ll go on to consider such key texts of the “classic” Lower East Side as Jacob Riis’s photo-text study, How the Other Half Lives, Abraham Cahan’s writings for the Jewish Forward and his novel of Americanization, The Rise of David Levinsky, and early short films by Thomas Edison focusing on everyday life in the immigrant ghetto. We’ll then turn to a new generation of responses, from Berenice Abbott’s photographs of the Lower East Side to Henry Roth’s modernist masterpiece, Call It Sleep, and subjective documentary accounts of the Lower East Side by such photographers as Ben Shahn, Weegee, Rebecca Lepkoff, and Louis Faurer, who celebrate its dynamism and its immigrant histories as a resource for confronting the challenges of modern times. We’ll round out our work by turning to later twentieth-century and contemporary responses, which will include texts self-consciously responding to Jewish and other “alternative” cultures historically situated on the Lower East Side — for example, early poetry by Allen Ginsberg and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt’s graphic novel Scarlett Takes Manhattan, and such photographic projects as Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency and Zoe Leonard’s Analogue. Throughout the course, we’ll trace the ways in which the image of the Lower East Side, as historical ghetto and immigrant enclave and as a site of otherness, has shaped visions of America and modern times.

Requirements will include: active class participation; two short response essays on images or film texts; and a longer final essay or project.

JUDAIC 317 - Topics in Judaic Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
Note: Meets with CLARCH 350.001 and History 481.001
002 (LEC)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
003 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
Note: Meets with English 398
004 (REC)
W 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Note: Meets with HJCS 291
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Please note:I've provided information about class resources so that all students can obtain materials from any source they choose. Other editions of all texts are okay EXCEPT for the Norton edition of How the Other Half Lives, which contains many additional materials we'll be looking at. Please be sure you order that edition, and have it in hand no later than our second class meeting. All additional materials--photographs, films, and other visual materials--will be provided in class and on ctools.
ISBN: 0393930262
How the other half lives : authoritative text, contexts, criticism, Author: Riis, Jacob A. (Jacob August), 1849-1914., Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co 2010
ISBN: 0486224279
Yekl ; and The imported bridegroom and other stories of the New York ghetto., Author: With a new introd. by Bernard G. Richards., Publisher: Dover Publications 1970
ISBN: 0786703709
Jews without money, Author: by Michael Gold. With a special introduction by Alfred Kazin : woodcuts by Howard Simon., Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers 2nd ed. 1996
ISBN: 0374118191
Call it sleep, Author: Henry Roth ; with an introduction by Alfred Kazin and an afterword by Hana Wirth-Nesher., Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1991
ISBN: 0452279070
Ragtime, Author: by E.L. Doctorow., Publisher: Plume 1996
ISBN: 0743297814
'85 : a novel, Author: Danny Simmons, Floyd Hughes., Publisher: Atria Books 1st Atria 2008
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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