Friday, September 24, 2010

Syllabus for Hebrew Poetry Course


Here is the syllabus for the course --
Be well

Modern Literature 190N     Fall 2010, UCSC
Professor Murray Baumgarten     T, Th 12 – 1:45 pm
Office hours:  T, 4-5 p.m.     Soc Sci 1 Room 161    


The how and what and why of reading Hebrew Poetry, from Biblical to modern times, revealed by practice with different forms, modes, and methods. This bilingual course will be conducted in English, with many readings in Hebrew and English facing-page translation. As a Senior Seminar 25 pages of writing are expected, and much of the work of the course will be directed to help you with your research and writing. There will also be intensive discussions, lectures, group meetings, and recitations as part of the pleasure of thinking about this foundational tradition.

Materials for the course and syllabus will be posted on Contribute. Please check regularly for updates.

Resources for the Senior Seminar Paper:
The San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum has an exhibit on writing the Torah – please be sure to see the exhibit – it should take about 2 hours for you to go through it. Thursdays after 5 it will only cost you $5 to enter the museum. (The Museum stays open till 8 pm so there will be time to see the Torah exhibit and the other exhibits.) We will discuss aspects of the exhibit on October 12. You will be expected to make reference to it in your paper.

Note that you will be asked to make class presentation -- a brief statement of the subject you will investigate in your paper, followed by a preliminary written account, including a critical bibliography indicating the poems you will be writing on and essays you are reading to develop your approach: this will be due by October 12. Ten days later, it should be followed on October 21 by a written discussion of the relation of your subject and specific poems to Biblical writing and Biblical poetry.
This schedule of work is intended to help you with the thinking, writing, and re-writing process.

The first ten pages of your essay are due on November 4, the next third on November 16, and the final completed essay is due on December 2.

Required Reading
     -- the books are available for purchase at
          the BayTree Bookstore on campus

T. Carmi, The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, Penguin
Yehuda Amichai, Poems of Jerusalem & Love Poems, A Bilingual Edition, Sheep Meadow Press
Kaufman, Hasan-Rokem, Hess, editors, The Defiant Muse, Feminist Press


Recommended Reading

Yehuda Amichai, Open Closed Open, translated
by Chana Kronfeld and Chana Bloch,
Harcourt Brace

Peter Cole, Dream of the Poem,
Princeton Paperbacks
Hillel Halkin, Yehuda Halevi, Nextbook/Schocken


September 23: Introduction -- What is it we do when we read Hebrew poetry? How does the history of Hebrew translation inflect our reading of and writing about Hebrew poetry? How does the Bible inflect and inform Hebrew poetry? How do post-biblical Hebrew poems reveal hidden aspects of the Bible?

     Discussion of Yehuda Amichai’s “Jacob and the Angel,” which you will find on the last page of this syllabus.

September 28 – October 14: Reading Biblical Poetry, as well as Bialik, Tchernikhovsky, others in Carmi Anthology and the Defiant Muse

September 30: Shemini Atzeret – no class

October 5: Ruth Ellen Gruber: Jewish Travel
and Hebrew Poets

Reading Contemporary Poets
October 19 – 26 : Selections from Carmi, Defiant Muse, Amichai, Poems of Jerusalem &
Love Poems

October 21: Comparison of translations of the poems of Yehuda Amichai and Zelda

Reading Earlier Poets
October 28 – November 9:  The Medieval Achievement -- Selections from Carmi, Halkin

Reading Yehuda Amichai
November 11 – 23: Amichai and the
Literary History of Modern Hebrew Poetry

November 25: Thanksgiving Day

November 30 – December 2: New/Old Directions
in Hebrew Poetry

How do we continue to read poetry after a class in reading poetry? How have our lives been changed by studying the reading of Hebrew poetry?

Final Paper Due December 2.

For discussion at first class meeting – consider the Biblical echoes in the poem, “Jacob and the Angel” by Yehuda Amichai.

Yehuda Amichai, “Jacob and the Angel”


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