- VOLUME 10
- MY LIBRARY
Storytelling has always occupied an important place in Jewish culture; it has helped form Jewish consciousness and community. Although film has acquired some of the collective power of narrative, prose fiction remains a dominant art form among Jews. Fiction serves as a touchstone of identity and as a common coin of discourse. Despite its dependence upon language, it crosses borders through translation. Prose fiction—long form and short form, elite and popular—reflects transnational dimensions of Jewish culture. The languages in which fiction is written are diverse, with less correlation between a writer’s location and the language of a text than in other genres. Criteria for selection include critical acclaim, influence, popularity, social and political relevance. We have been concerned to convey cross-cultural exchange and dialogue.
Poetry, a very personal medium, has been used to address public as well as private issues. Despite difficulties facing poets who seek to publish their poems, poetry has proliferated in these decades. Undoubtedly the popularity of musical styles that draw upon poems as well as the growth of spoken word performance of poetry have contributed to this efflorescence. No particular styles predominate; rather, poets find their own voices and languages. The substantial migrations that characterize these decades is reflected in the decision of poets to write not in the language of the country in which they live (e.g., Russian Jewish poets living in the United States writing in Russian, American Jewish
Dislocation in space has spurred desires by Jewish writers to retrace the effects of time upon personality. Memoirs written by Jews from across the globe reflect the upheavals of the twentieth century, the disruption of bonds of family and community, as well as cravings to craft versions of home. These ruptures register most dramatically among Jews outside of Israel who have felt the impact of a violent century, especially the Holocaust. Only recently have Israeli writers turned to memoir to connect with Diaspora origins.
Children’s and Young Adults’ Literature
The maturation of children’s literature as a separate genre occurred during the last decades of the twentieth century. Children’s literature adapts themes present in the greater society. It seeks to address social questions, explore imaginary worlds, connect young people to distant cultures, and provide memories of historical experiences. We follow conventions within the publishing of children’s literature, subdividing it according to age: picture books and storybooks for early readers, and young adult literature.
For Jews in the modern era, the theater served as a secular synagogue for exploring a wide range of issues. As live performances, drama stimulates interaction between audiences and performers. The dramatist requires actors to realize the play, and actors, in turn, depend on cooperation from their audiences. Drama blends elements of sound, gesture, words, color, and light. In addition, cinema and television have influenced live performances, and drama often integrates these canned entertainments, responding to their popularity and widespread recognition. We recognize the difficulties of experiencing live performances through mediated presentations. Theater will be presented in the form of selections from script.