You know how sometimes the stars align in just the right way and something you had been hoping to do and looking forward to all comes together perfectly? I mentioned I was hoping to audit a literature class at the university where I work? Last night I had my first class and I am excited about it--about the topic, about the coursework and the readings we'll be doing and the films we'll be watching. Why haven't I been auditing classes all along I now ask myself.
I have been working on ordering materials for the library that instructors will be using in their classes and the books being studied in a couple of Jewish/Israeli Literature classes caught my eye. First I noted down interesting-sounding books, and then I ordered a few for myself. Then I thought why not just take the class and get to enjoy all the good things that come along with studying a topic in earnest and learning from someone who is knowledgeable. Going through the admissions and registration process (since it has been longer than two years since I took a class on campus) certainly has given me a renewed appreciation for what students have to go through--all the hoops they need to jump through and the expenses associated with studying. I'm lucky as working for the university means I get a break on tuition (as well as only auditing and not taking the class for credit), so it is a terrific perk I will be taking advantage of in the future.
I had initially wanted to take a class about Jewish American Literature, but as it is offered off-campus it was more convenient to enroll in one that meets on campus (one of the limitations of depending on city buses unfortunately is I can't get to lots of places in the city easily or quickly). Part of the draw for me was that a visiting Israeli scholar is teaching the courses. Apparently it has been quite a coup that the department has drawn not just one but this is the second scholar to spend a year on campus. (Now I wish I had taken one of the classes last school year as her book orders--she taught art history courses--were equally as appealing). How often do you get to take a class offered by a published author? He's written seven books, two of which have been translated into English.
As for the course--it is 'Israeli Literature in War'. It's not a class about the various wars and conflicts associated with the formation of Israel per se, but rather the wars are used as a lens through which to learn about the country and the people.
"The course will explore questions of identity, nationalism, Zionism and war. In addition we will also examine questions of perspective and memory by studying books from the actual time period and those written in the following decades from the perspectives of the 'inside' and the 'outside', as well as in fiction, non-fiction and film."
We've started out talking about the concept of the Sabra--a term I had never heard before. A 'Sabra' is essentially a native born Jew--Israeli's born in Israel. But there is a whole mythology surrounding the concept and we will be exploring how this concept is manifested in literature. We've started out reading exceprts from the text above, The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew by Oz Almog.
The reading will consist of chapters from books, excerpts and short stories as well as movies. It should be very 'do-able' (and allowing me to continue on with my 'other' reading). Next week we will be reading Moshe Shamir, moving on to S. Yizhar and then to Amos Oz who is one of the best known and best regarded Israeli authors, but there will be many others. I'll share my reading as I go. The class is fairly small--only eight or nine of us along with our instructor. Only four of the students are taking the class for credit, the rest are auditing. And is a nice mix of people, ages, backgrounds and life experiences. It should make for excellent discussions and I am so looking forward to this experience.
It's unlikely I will be posting on Wednesdays from here on out until the end of December as Tuesdays (did you know I always write my posts the night before they actually appear?) are really long days for me, but I was so excited I wanted to share sooner than later. It's sort of curious--I knew I wanted to read more Jewish Literature, but really I hadn't been seeking anything special out--and here a grand opportunity falls right into my lap. Serendipity.