Travelers, Tricksters, and Storytellers: Jewish Travel Narratives and Autobiographies,


Jewish literature includes numerous highly fascinating travel accounts and autobiographies that are still awaiting their discovery by a broad modern readership. In this course, we will explore a variety of literary works ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. While their authors were all Jewish, they were of diverse cultural background and hailed from countries as diverse as Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire. Among them were pilgrims, rabbis, merchants, and one savvy businesswoman. We will read their works as responses to historical circumstances and as expressions of Jewish identity, in its changing relationship to the Christian or Muslim environment in which the writers lived or traveled. Specifically, we will ask questions such as: How do travel accounts and autobiographies enable their authors and readers to reflect on issues of identity and difference? How do the writers produce representations of an "other," against which and through which they define a particular sense of self? For instance, how do the writers portray Christians, Muslims, and Jews from other cultural backgrounds than their own? What role does the notion of race play in their accounts of distant lands and their peoples? How do they construe the role of women in a world dominated by men? This course is open to students of varying interests, including Jewish, Islamic, or Religious Studies; medieval and early modern history; European or Middle Eastern literatures. All texts will be read in English translation. Please note: L75 559 is intended for graduate students only.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM

Section 01

Travelers, Tricksters, and Storytellers: Jewish Travel Narratives and Autobiographies,
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