Roberta Rosenberg and Rachel Rubinstein

Oct 9, 2020

Teaching Jewish American Literature

MLA 2020

In this interview, Roberta Rosenberg and Rachel Rubinstein (editors), engage our listeners in a conversation about different approaches to teaching Jewish American Literature, complicating what it means to be “American”. Teaching Jewish American Literature (MLA, 2020) consciously pushes against the boundaries of the canon, and undermine the stereotype of the immigrant Jewish experience. A multilingual, transnational literary tradition, Jewish American writing has long explored questions of personal identity and national boundaries. These questions can engage students in literature, writing, or religion; at Jewish, Christian, or secular schools; and in or outside the United States.

This volume takes an expansive view of Jewish American literature, beginning with writing from the earliest colonies in the Americas and continuing to contemporary Soviet-born authors in the United States, including works that engage deeply with religious concepts and others that embrace assimilation. It invites readers to rethink the nature of American multiculturalism, suggests pairings of Jewish American texts with other ethnic American literatures, and examines the workings of whiteness and privilege.

Contributors offer varied perspectives on classic texts such as Yekl, Bread Givers, and “Goodbye, Columbus,” along with approaches to interdisciplinary topics including humor, graphic novels, and musical theater. The volume concludes with an extensive resources section.

Roberta Rosenberg is professor emerita at Christopher Newport University, and Rachel Rubinstein taught at Hampshire College and serves as vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Holyoke Community College.

Rachel Adelman (the host) is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Hebrew College in Boston, MA.

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