New Jewish American Literature Course at Ursinus

A new literature course exploring ethnic and religious diversity in the United States will expose students to great Jewish American writers often overlooked in American literature. Some of the texts to be read in the first-ever Jewish American literature course at Ursinus include Abraham Cahan, Yekl and The Imported Bridegroom and Other Stories of the New York Ghetto, Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers, Philip Roth, Goodbye Columbus and Other Stories, Tony Kushner, Caroline or Change, Art Spiegelman, Maus I and II and Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.


“Jewish immigrants grappled with the differences they faced when they arrived in the U.S. (religious, social, cultural); they didn’t simply become “Americans,” they became American Jews, an identity that was distinct and distinctly hybrid,” says Meredith Goldsmith Associate Professor of English and Director, Mellon Teaching and Learning Initiative. “I also hope to share with the students that idea that these stories aren’t simply about immigration and the displacements and cultural changes that resulted; Jewish American writers have been weighing in on issues of importance to their day throughout the twentieth century, whether it’s race and ethnicity, social class, or the role of religion in society.”

Meredith Goldsmith

Meredith Goldsmith Associate Professor of English and Director, Mellon Teaching and Learning Initiative


Students will be reading writers as diverse as Kushner, Spiegelman, and Pearl Abraham (a woman born in a Hasidic community who ultimately left it).  The course also includes a docent-led tour of the National Museum of American Jewish History downtown. “I’m interested in exploring with the students what commonalities exist in this diverse body of contemporary literature,” says Goldsmith, who earned her Ph.D. at Columbia University.

One thought on “New Jewish American Literature Course at Ursinus

  1. I request if I might be placed on the Ursinus mailing list for Jewish Studies. I am retired and long ago graduated with a BA in economics. But I spent the years 1980-85 split between Berlin, Germany and Tel Aviv, Israel with my Polish-born fiancee (married since 1984). Developed some language skills and cultural/historical interest in the interactions between Jewish and German cultures over time. At some point if possible would likely be interested in attending courses offered. Note: I am of pure Ashkenazy roots, all grandparents having immigrated to America before WWI. However, raised in the culture and values of a liberal and assimilated Jewish family.
    Thanks for keeping me posted.

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