Free Online course: The Modern Jewish Canon (Led by Prof. Ruth Wisse)

After the Pesah holiday will open its first online course in cooperation with the Nahum Goldmann Alumni Online Magazine.

The course, led by Prof. Ruth Wisse and entitled The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey Through Language and Literature is free, and will be conducted via email listserve. It consists of five lessons, each of which is live online for interactive discussion for two weeks.

Lesson 1: Sholem Aleichem: Tevye the Dairyman
Lesson 2: Franz Kafka: The Trial
Lesson 3: Isaac Babel, Red Cavalry
Lesson 4: Saul Bellow, Mr. Sammler’s Planet
Lesson 5: Haim Sabato, Adjusting Sights


This course presents five books that tell different parts of the modern Jewish story. The books don not pretend to be “representative” of the literature as a whole, but they do cover a lot of territory and varieties of Jewish experience.

Enjoyable as it is to read a good book, it can be even more enjoyable when we have a context for critical reflection and discussion. With that in mind, the course will build an appreciation of the features of each work by showing what makes it distinctive and persuasive. You will understand how it interprets life and the world, how it tells a Jewish story, and how the language of composition affects the way the story is told.

Each lesson will briefly introduce author and book. The main focus is on the work itself. The recommended passages from The Modern Jewish Canon are intended as supplementary background and basis for discussion. These books are very different from one another in their approach to fiction and to the human condition. They try to make sense of their situation, and we will try to make sense of them.

To participate in this course you will need to purchase the required books from which Prof. Wisse has taken selections.

To sign up, please go to:

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