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EN2K6/EN3K6 Yiddish Literature in Translation: A World Beyond Borders

Module Credits: 30 CATS

Tutor(s): Rochelle Sibley

The module Moodle can be found here

Module Outline:

Yiddish literature is not only a window into a lost world of European Jewish culture, it is also an ongoing record of the shifting relationship between language, environment and identity in the modern world. This is the only undergraduate Yiddish literature module in the UK, and it focuses on English translations of work from Europe, North America and South America in order to discuss Yiddish as a transnational literature, introducing students to a diverse range of Yiddish poetry and prose fiction from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Inevitably, the destruction of the Holocaust dominates this literature, but these texts also offer new perspectives on familiar experiences as their authors attempt to negotiate the political and social upheavals of conflict, revolution and mass migration.


The module is divided into four units, including Yiddish Warsaw, Yiddish in the Pale of Settlement, Soviet Yiddish literature and diasporic Yiddish literature, each of which addresses texts from before and after the Holocaust. As well as covering the work of canonical Yiddish writers (such as Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, Avrom Sutzkever, Rokhl Korn and I. B. Singer), the module engages with many lesser known authors and those whose work has only recently been translated into English. These readings will be supplemented with an array of online resources, including film, audio recordings and visual images, to help students understand the social, literary and cultural backgrounds of the module texts.

This module is available to both second year students and finalists and is taught in weekly, two-hour seminars. No previous knowledge of Yiddish required.


The full module syllabus is here.

Reading List: Here is the Talis Aspire reading list for the module


The assessment patterns for both intermediate year and final year students are here.

N.B. AI is forbidden on this module - the use of it in any shape or form will result in investigation and penalty.

Objectives and outcomes: By the end of this module you should have

  • acquired knowledge of selected texts and concepts relating to the Yiddish literatures and cultures
  • developed analytical and critical skills through close reading/viewing of the set texts
  • demonstrated knowledge of relevant cultural and critical contexts within which to situate the set texts
  • shown a familiarity with key themes and debates in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Yiddish studies
  • exhibited a capacity for archival skills, clear/concise expression and critical analysis