Professor Kaplan reports on JS209, Jewish American and U.S. Minority literatures in dialogue

I hit the jackpot of students for the inaugural class of JS 209/CWL 209/ENGL 222, Jewish American and U.S. Minority Literatures in Dialogue. Hailing from physics, psychology, journalism, accounting, business, health sciences, civil engineering, history, social work, English and other disciplines, students came together to read a wide variety of literary texts expressing immigrant and/or minority experiences in the U.S. Over the course of the semester the pupils learned careful reading and writing skills and honed their ability to make arguments about texts. For their final essays I encouraged them to write and think outside the box and received an array of fantastic fiction and non-fiction essays telling stories of LGBTQ struggles to find an identity, immigrant experiences from Puerto Rico, Russia, Ethiopia, and many other places, love stories of cultural difference, fictional and non-fictional stories about adoption, race wars in schools, becoming the representative of the Jewish people as a Jewish minority, baking in a Chicago bakery with Polish, Jewish, and Mexican co-workers, and many other beautifully written narratives. Taken as a whole, these final essays offered profound reflections on the themes we discussed all semester including alienation; isolation; community; cross-cultural, religious, and racial convergences; generational differences; stereotyping and defying expectations; aesthetics and art. I feel very lucky to have learned from these exceptionally sensitive and bright young adults all semester!