Course Details

01:506:272 Modern Jewish History

  • Academic Credits: 3
  • SAS Core: HST
  • Mode of Instruction: Lecture
  • Syllabus: Spring 2020

    Syllabus Disclaimer:  The information on this syllabus is subject to change. For up-to-date course information, please refer to the syllabus on your course site (Sakai, Canvas, etc.) on the first day of class.

  • Cross-listed Course: 01:563:202
  • Credit will not be given for both this course and the cross-listed course.

    Course Description

    Modernity posed challenging questions to the Jews, unsettling previously held beliefs and sources of identity. What, moderns—and Jews themselves—asked, are Jews? A religion, a race, a nation, an ethnicity, or a people? What language(s) do they speak, read, and write? To whom do their loyalties belong? To their local community, to the political states or empires in which they reside, to Jews around the world, to a Jewish state, or to all of humanity? What role would traditional religious structures and authority play in the Jews’ encounter with modern values, such as secularization, democracy, gender equality, and religious tolerance? How would Jews respond to new forms of antagonism or hatred against them?

    This course will address these challenges through a survey of the social, economic, political, religious, and cultural history of European and N. American Jewry from the sixteenth century to the present. Topics to be covered include: Marranism and New Christians, the European State and the Jews, the Money Economy and the “Jewish Question,” Jewish autonomy, the political emancipation of the Jews, religious reform, modern antisemitism, nationalism, WWI, Jewish life during the interwar years in both the United States and Europe, WWII, and postwar Jewish life. It will examine the changes in Jewish life engendered by modernity and explore the responses of the Jews to its challenges. Attention will be paid to the regional diversity in the modern Jewish experience, as well as to the nexus between gender and modernization. Primary and secondary readings, including fiction, memoirs, and poetry, will be used.