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C LIT 323 A: Studies in the Literature of Emerging Nations

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
SAV 162
Joint Sections: 
NEAR E 325 A
Sokoloff photo
Naomi Sokoloff

Syllabus Description:


NEAR E 325/C LIT 323

Please note: students may sign up for this course under either prefix - NEAR E or C LIT.   If you have any questions about how the credits may count toward a major or minor in NELC or CLCM, please speak with the advisors, Gabe Skoog ( and Nancy Sisko (

Professor Naomi Sokoloff

Spring 2020

MW 2:30-4:20

C LIT 323: 5 credits, VLPA, DIV, W optional

NEAR E 325: 3 Credits, VLPA, W optional

Additional Credits:

Any student enrolled in NEAR E 325 may choose to add another 2 credits of Independent Study (NEAR E 490).

Any student who wishes to earn an additional 2-3 credits for reading some of these texts in the original Hebrew should make arrangements with the instructor to register for Independent Study (MODHEB 490).


Course description:

Hebrew has had a remarkable history in the past 150 years, undergoing startling revitalization  A vehicle of expression for persecuted Jews in Europe in the 19th century, Hebrew literature contributed to the inception of Jewish nationalist movements and played a major role in the shaping of modern Jewish identity. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, this literature has served as a central pillar of majority culture but also as an instrument of protest. It has served to voice the experiences of Jewish refugees from the Middle East, of Palestinian Arabs, of Ethiopian Israelis, of guest workers, and of other minority groups. Learning about Hebrew literature can foster understanding of language revival, contested nationalisms, cultures in contact, relations between highbrow and popular culture, and debates regarding gender and nation.

Creative writing in Hebrew has at times flourished outside of Israel, and increasingly Hebrew is the language of non-Jewish authors as well as Jewish authors. These phenomena complicate the definition of “Jewish national identity” and Jewish literature.This course presents literary work by a range of authors from Europe, Israel and the U.S., and it considersthe challenges of canon formation amidst the dramatic historical circumstances and ideological forces intertwined with modern Hebrew literature: Zionism, the Holocaust, the Israeli-Arab conflict, religious and secular aspects of Israeli society.

Students who know Hebrew at the intermediate level (for instance, who have completed MODHEB 203 or above) and who wish to take on additional assignments to work on their language skills may add 2 credits of independent study (MODHEB 490).

By the end of the course students a) will have read a wide range of texts that illustrate the emergence of a modern literature and the revitalization of an ancient language; b) will have learned about the close connections of modern Hebrew literature to Yiddish, to Arabic, and to Russian literature; c) will have strengthened skills in reading analytically and critically; d) will have practiced writing skills through in-class writing exercises and through analytical essays. W credits will require peer review, editing and revision.





Students are expected to do the required reading, to attend class and to participate in class discussion.  There will be several short written assignments and one midterm test. Students enrolled for 5 credits will also complete a take-home essay exam. In addition: this is a “W” optional course.  Final grades will be determined as follows:


Assignments for students enrolled for 3 credits:


#1.  A close reading of a text: 750-1000 words (25%)

#2.  A thematic analysis of a text: 750 - 1000 words (25%)

#3.   one midterm test (40%)

#4.  Class participation and in-class writing(10%)


 Assignments for students enrolled for 5 credits:

#1.  A close reading of a text: 750-1000 words (20%)

#2.  A thematic analysis of a text: 750 - 1000 words (20%)

#3.   one midterm test (35%)

#4  Class participation and in-class writing(10%)

#5. Take-home final: 1500-1750 words (15%)


Grading Scale

4.0 - 98-100

3.9 – 96-97

3.8 – 94-95

3.7 – 92-93

3.6 - 91

3.5 – 90

3.4 – 89

3.3 – 88



Dates to keep in mind:



 April 22 - Paper #1

May 6 - Topics for take-home final distributed

May 20 - Midterm quiz


June 3 -  Paper #2

June 10 - Take-home essays due




If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924.  If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor and discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.

In cases of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism or receiving inappropriate assistance on an assignment, offending students will be penalized in accordance with the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences. If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism or how to properly attribute credit to source materials, consult with the instructor.

At times it may be useful to access the internet during discussion, but please turn off any distracting electronic devices when in class (such as cell phone ringers).

 Please keep a copy of all graded work. This is very useful in case the instructor’s record of grades is lost or damaged, or in case the student wishes to discuss a grade.  Protect yourself by keeping a copy.

For additional guidelines on academic integrity, Incompletes, grade appeal, concerns about an instructor, equal opportunity, disability accommodations, absences due to religious observances, sexual harassment, and safety, see the homepage of our course website and the following link: (Links to an external site.)



Attendance and class participation are important to the learning process. However, if you have symptoms of contagious illness – such as sniffles, sneezes, a cough, a sore throat, or a fever – please do not come to class. We will figure out a way to cover the material so that your learning and your grades will not suffer. 


It is important that we take care of ourselves inside and outside of class by learning how to care for our body, mind and spirit. Toward that end, there are many different kinds of support services on campus, including the Counseling Center, Hall Health, and the IMA. If you are concerned about yourself or a friend who is struggling, Safecampus, at 1-800-685-7233, is a very helpful resources to learn more about how to access campus-based support services. Please save the number for Safecampus, 1-800-685-7233, into your cell phones.






Modern Hebrew Literature, ed. Robert Alter (Berman House, 1975)


Selected poems,short fiction, and essays, available on our Canvas website.



Catalog Description: 
Novels and short stories, from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Discusses relationship of Western literary genres to an oral literary tradition, as well as issues like colonialism, gender relations, narrative technique, native and non-native languages.
Department Requirements Met: 
Literature Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Diversity (DIV)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 27, 2020 - 10:10pm