Fall 2015

American Jewish Keywords

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-210


Wendy H. Bergoffen (Section 01)


This course will use selected keywords to examine how the Jewish experience has been conceived, narrated, and remembered in American society. Keywords do not present static definitions, but illuminate a shared vocabulary of meaning. Therefore, we will approach each keyword as a point of departure for examining the complexity of American Jewish experience. Course questions include: Why do the terms “mobility” and “success” continue to resonate for American Jews in the twenty-first century? What has motivated individuals to claim a “marginal” or “mainstream” status? When do members of the community act like “menschen” or “brothers” to others? To what degree does New York’s "Lower East Side" exemplify as well as simplify American Jewish experience? Students will engage with a range of materials, including fiction, memoir, film, historical documents, and photography; readings will include selections of literary criticism, ethnic and racial studies, social history, and sociology.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Lecturer Bergoffen.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to Amherst College American Studies students.


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015