The University of Southampton

ENGL3045 Post-War American Jewish Literature

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- Introduce you to a range of American Jewish writing. - Provide you with an opportunity to analyse American Jewish identity. - Encourage you to explore the tensions between tradition and modernity, religion and secularity in the literature we read

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Recurrent themes of Post-War American Jewish writing
  • Why the Jewish writer has risen to such prominence in America
  • Stock characters and dilemmas, comic and tragic modes
  • The dynamics of assimilation
  • Immigrant and post-Holocaust identities
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Make connections between a range of different authors and styles
  • Work directly from primary sources
  • Critically evaluate secondary sources
  • Analyse texts in terms of their wider (historical, social, political) contexts
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Show clarity of argument and exposition in well-structured written work
  • Demonstrate skills in oral presentation
  • Show familiarity with current intellectual debates and ideas


American Jewish literature has exerted an enormous influence throughout its short history, and the Jewish writer has nowhere been more accommodated into the mainstream than in the place that Israel Zangwill first called the “melting pot”. Novelist, John Updike, for example, creates a Jewish alter ego to play the role of the quintessential American author. So is America a promised land for the Jews? Concentrating on fiction after WWII, this course will examine a range of images, genres and narrative strategies to consider in what ways the Jewish writer may be an American writer par excellence. We will also examine how the Jewish writer has managed to blend the specificity of his/her Jewish identity within the larger narrative of America as a whole, and we will explore the tension between the religious and the secular in the literature we read.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include There will be one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar per week. Lectures will provide historical and cultural contexts for reading the texts and discuss strategies for interpreting them. Close analysis of the texts will take place in seminars where you will have the opportunity to lead discussion. Learning activities include - Preparing and delivering oral presentations. - Individual study/research (including access to the unique facilities offered by the Parkes library). - Written essays.

Independent Study126
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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