“From Kafka to Primo Levi: Jewish Kafka in Italy,” “Kafka and Holocaust” MLA 2012 Seattle, January, 2012.
Many of the most important twentieth-century Italian authors are Jewish or part Jewish, including Italo Svevo, Giorgio Bassani, Umberto Saba, Elsa Morante, Natalia Ginzburg, Alberto Moravia, and Primo Levi. This class will cover a selection of these authors’ writings (and others) as well as address what the phrase “Jewish Italian Authors” means (or could mean). Topics will include humor, love, and the difficulty of representing the Shoah, among others. We will examine the impact of these authors’ Jewishness on their works, as well as the problems of discussing whether these authors’ religious and ethnic background influences their writing. In addition, the course will explore the effect important historical events had on these authors and their works. While covering some canonical works of twentieth-century Italian literature, the course will also provide a unique perspective on modern Italian literature. Teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, Fall 2011.