Andy Warhol's 'Jews of the 20th Century Suite': Franz  Kafka, George Gershwin, Loius Brandeis, Golda Meir, Sarah Bernhardt
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COURSE DESCRIPTIONS (PAST & PRESENT)

Yom Tov Assis
Medieval Jewish Life under the Cross and the Crescent

Shlomo Avineri
Israel: Nation-Building, Political Development. War and Peace

Gisela Bock
Women and/in the Holocaust: Europe in the 1930s and 1940s

Michael Brenner
German-Jewish History from the Enlightenment to the Rise of National Socialism
Modern Jewish Historiography

Zvi Gitelman
The Politics and Culture of Modern East European Jewry

Victor Karády
Social History of Central European Jewry

John Klier
The Rise of Modern Jewish Politics in Eastern Europe
Russian, Poles and Jews: An Imperial Triangle

András Kovács
Interpretations of Modern Anti-Semitism

Michael Miller
Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in Historical Perspective
Culture, Society and Religion of Eastern European Jewry
The Emergence of Zionism
Messianism: From the Age of Revelation to the Age of Revolution
Paths to Jewish Emancipation
Russia and Poland as Multi-National States: The Jews as Case Study, 1772-1917

Andrea Pető
Holocaust, Memory, Gender

Marsha Rozenblit
The Struggle over Identity: The Dilemmas of Jews in Austria-Hungary and Its Successor States

Ivan Sanders
Assimilation and its Discontents: Central European Jewish Writers and Literature

Frank Stern
Being Jewish in European and American Cinema 1914-2006

Yael Tamir
Can Liberal Nationalism be Implemented? The Israeli Test-Case

Carsten Wilke
Advanced Source Reading: Medieval Hebrew Text Seminar
Intensive Reading Seminar: Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise
Introduction to Medieval Jewish Civilization
Jewish Thought in the Twentieth Century
Medieval Iberian Jewry under Muslim and Christian Rule
Paths to Jewish Emancipation
Problems and Paradigms in Jewish Studies: How to write on Jewish Subjects
Sephardic Jewry in Exile, 1492 to the present
Transnationalism and the Jews of the Nineteenth Century

 

Medieval Jewish Life under the Cross and the Crescent
Yom Tov Assis

The course examines Jewish life in the Middle Ages in Christian Europe and in the world of Islam and analyzes the legal and political position of the Jews in both worlds to show the impact of the surrounding society on the Jews. The course offers a comparative study of the Jews under Christendom and under Islam in religious practice, in cultural orientation, in communal organization, in social structure and family life. The common features in Jewish life in both the Christian and Muslim domains despite the dispersion are studied and discussed.

 

Israel: Nation-Building, Political Development. War and Peace
Shlomo Avineri
2 credits

This course aims at a comprehensive overview of the main issues which have determined Israel's political and ideological development.

The intellectual and political origins of Zionism and Israel will be traced in the context of 19th and 20th century European nationalism and the crisis and failure of liberalism in Central and Eastern Europe. The structure of the political institutions and political ideological formations in Jewish community in British, pre-1948 Palestine will be presented as the background out of which the political structure and culture of contemporary Israel has emerged. The changing political map of Israel will be discussed over the period 1948-2009: political parties, state/religion, the status of the Arab minority in Israel, the emergence of Sephardi power and the impact of the recent Russian immigration. The outcome of the 2009 elections will be analyzed in terms of both internal and external factors.
The international context of the Arab-Israel conflict will be related to these developments: from Soviet support for Israel in the late 1940's to the growing importance of the American connection in the Cold War and the post-l989 changes. Further issues to be discussed will be the promise of Oslo, the breakdown of the peace process following Camp David in 2000, the Gaza disengagement in 2005, the repercussions of the 2006 Lebanon War, the Annapolis conference and the Gaza war of 2009.

 

Women and/in the Holocaust: Europe in the 1930s and 1940s
Gisela Bock
2 credits

In the Second World War, National Socialism embarked on a politics of mass murder - called genocide since 1944 and today called “Holocaust” - by killing many millions of men and women throughout Eastern and Western Europe. Those who survived have been affected in many ways by the “hell” of Nazi concentration camps and extermination. There were “many circles of hell” and at their center was the Shoah, the massacre of the Jews, about half of whom were women. The course will deal with the questions as to why and how this happened and with the character and meaning of this “break with civilisation” (Zivilisa-tionsbruch). The questions will be placed in four major frameworks: the place of women in National Socialism and the Holocaust, both as victims and as agents; discourses and practices of racism; the relations between gender and race or, racism and gender policies; a comparative and transnational approach (similarities and differences between “authoritarian”, “fascist”, “National Socialist” and “totalitarian” politics, the issue of collaboration).

 

German-Jewish History from the Enlightenment to the Rise of National Socialism
Michael Brenner
2 credits

This course will provide a broad overview of German-Jewish history in modern times, from the period of Enlightenment until the rise of National Socialism.  Beginning with the Berlin Haskala (Jewish Enlightenment), the course will examine the drawn-out struggle for legal, political and civic emancipation; transformations in religious life and practice; the question of social integration vs. exclusion in Imperial Germany; World War I and its aftermath; and aspects of Jewish culture, politics and society in the Weimar Republic.

 

Major Issues and Debates in Modern Jewish Historiography
Michael Brenner

This course wants to introduce the major texts and debates in Jewish history writing during the 19th and 20th centuries. We will start with a discussion of some relevant texts of 19th century German-Jewish scholars like Leopold Zunz, Isaac Marcus Jost and Heinrich Graetz, then turn to Eastern Europe and review Simon Dubnow's work. In the 20th century Zionist critics like Gershom Scholem, Itzchak Baer and Benzion Dinur challenged the traditional Wissenschaft des Judentums ideology. While they accused their forerunners of apologetics, they created themselves a Palestinocentric worldview. On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile Salo Baron drew a more friendly picture of Jewish existence in the diaspora. We will end with a discussion of modern Jewish historical writings by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi and Amos Funkenstein and some insights into contemporary debates about "Post-Zionist" Israeli historiography and the place of the Shoah in Jewish history.

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The Politics and Culture of Modern East European Jewry
Zvi Gitelman
2 credits

This course focuses on the interplay of ethnicity, politics and culture, with specific reference to the Jews of Eastern Europe since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Students should gain an appreciation of both the history and culture of East European Jewry as well as of the interplay of ethnicity and politics. For our purpose, “Eastern Europe” means, in the main, present day Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Reference will also be made to Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

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Social History of Central European Jewry
Victor Karády
4 credits

The course deals with long term processes of social, demographic, institutional and political transformations related to Jews and Jewish communities in East Central European societies (especially in the Habsburg Empire) since the Enlightenment. A theoretical introduction concerning the unique nature and multiple patterns of modern Jewish collective identity leads to an outline of the establishment of Jews in this part of the world since the Middle Ages. The main foci of the course are organized around the following topical areas: community structure, internal power relations and inter-state community networks in traditional Jewry; professional and economic stratification and social mobility since the 19 th century; Jews and the emerging nation states (East and West compared); demographic modernization; cultural heritage and ‘educational capital' problems of acculturation and language switch; social assimilation, integration and status mobility (mixed marriages, conversion, 'nationalization' of surnames); pathologies of modern Jewish identity; political responses to the crisis of assimilation: Zionism, autonomism, Bund, socialism and communism.

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The Rise of Modern Jewish Politics in Eastern Europe
John Klier

The events surrounding the anti-Jewish riots, or pogroms, which erupted against the Jews in the Russian Empire between 1881-2 have widely been seen as a turning point in modern Jewish history. Indeed, the Jewish responses to the pogroms, it is argued, gave rise to modern Jewish politics, especially in the form of Zionism and Jewish varieties of socialism. While this picture has been modified somewhat--scholarship has demonstrated the growth of forms of Jewish nationalism well before the pogroms, and also that not all Jews abandoned either traditional responses to crises or liberal beliefs in democratic change--these assumptions still dominate the historical literature.

The course will explore the historiography of the rise of modern Jewish politics, focusing on responses to the crisis of 1881-2. It will also explore a number of recent revisionist studies--some of then not yet published--which raise serious questions about the validity of aspects the dominant interpretation. The Jews of Eastern Europe will serve as the focus of this study. The political traditions and activities which characterised the Jews of Poland-Lithuania before the first partition of 1772, and which they brought into their respective new states, will be examined. With this background, the crisis of 1881-2 and its aftermath, will be reconsidered. The course will conclude with an examination of the various forms of Jewish politics in Eastern Europe after 1881-2.

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Russians, Poles and Jews: An Imperial Triangle
John Klier
2 credits

There is an extensive historical literature devoted to the history of the Poles and the Jews under Russian imperial rule. These histories are usually recounted as two distinct and separate narratives, "The Polish Question" and "The Jewish Question." While some attention has been devoted to Polish-Jewish relations, it is usually viewed as a two-sided relationship, and primarily within the context of the so-called Kingdom of Poland. Only a few scholars have tried to view this relationship in a broader context, or outside the Kingdom of Poland. In particular, the Polish-Jewish relationship appears in a very different light if placed in the context of the disputed Polish-Russian borderlands, a territory that was co-terminous with the Pale of Jewish Settlement. The borderlands as a cockpit of struggle between dominant and emergent national groups have featured prominently in the work of Edward Thaden and Theodore Weeks. I have tried to explore this three-cornered relationship in a number of articles and a book, Imperial Russia's Jewish Question, 1855-1881 (Cambridge, UK, 1996).

This course will explore the three-sided relationship between Poles, Russians and Jews, both in the Kingdom of Poland and the Pale of Settlement. It will examine the process through which Jews in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were transformed into "Polish Jews" and "Russian Jews." The role of Jews in the Polish national movement in the Russian Empire that culminated in the Polish uprising of 1863 will be explored, as well as the gradual estrangement that culminated in outright hostility on the eve of World War I. Attention will be devoted to the Polish-Jewish relationship in the Pale of Settlement against the background of the anti-Polish campaign known as "Russification," which some historians have seen as anti-Jewish in intent. The over-riding perspective will be that of the dilemma of Jews caught in the midst of the conflict between two dominant and antipathetic national groups.

 

Interpretations of Modern Antisemitism
András Kovács
4 credits

This course provides students with an overview of psychological, sociological, political and historical theories of modern antisemitism. After considering key concepts such as anti-Judaism, antisemitism, modern antisemitism, it gives an introduction into the most influential scholarly explanations of the investigated subject. The course concentrates on the theological explanations of the persistence of antisemitic prejudices, the psychoanalytically oriented personality theory, the projective theories of prejudice, the group conflict theories, and the political explanations of antisemitic movements and ideologies. Special attention will be given to the methods of empirical sociological investigation of the subject.

 

Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in Historical Perspective
Michael Miller

Anti-Jewish sentiment goes by many names, including anti-Judaism, Jew-hatred, Judeophobia, and, of course, Antisemitism - a term that was coined in 1879 to give scientific legitimacy to the "longest hatred." This course will explore the ancient origins of Jew-hatred, examining its development and transformation in the course of the past two millennia, paying particular attention to the shifting theological, ideological, cultural, political and scientific trends that impacted the perception of Jews and Judaism in the modern period.

 

Culture, Society and Religion of Eastern European Jewry
Michael Miller

This course examines the “Eastern European era in Jewish history,” with particular focus on religious and cultural trends that shaped (or were shaped by) the Jewish experience in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – up until the Partitions of Poland (1772-1795) – and in the Russian Empire up until the Bolshevik Revolution. After exploring the origins of Eastern European Jewry, the course will examine Jewish institutions of self-government, social and economic relations with the surrounding Gentile population, and the flourishing religious and educational life that was temporarily disrupted by the Cossack Uprising of 1648-49. It will also examine the eighteenth-century emergence of Hasidism, a mystical religious movement that attracted a mass following – and precipitated a vociferous opposition – among the Jews of Eastern Europe.

After the Partitions of Poland, Jews were incorporated into the Russian, Prussian and Habsburg states, each of which aimed to transform the Jews into useful citizens – or at least “productive” subjects – in accordance with the regnant Enlightenment discourse. This course will briefly examine the developments in Prussia and the Habsburg Empire, but the focus will be on the Russian Empire, which acquired its Jewish population with the Partitions of Poland. Particular attention will be paid to the Russian Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), changing attitudes towards religion and “Jewishness,” shifting roles of women and the family, the emergence of modern Jewish literature, and ideological responses to economic and physical insecurity. In addition, the transfer, adaptation and rupture of Eastern European Jewish patterns of life will be examined in the context of mass emigration to the New World.

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The Emergence of Zionism
Michael Miller
4 credits

Zionism, in its various forms, set out to transform the Jewish people by creating a territorial homeland for a dispersed minority, by replacing (or supplementing) a religious-ethnic identity with a national one. Though influenced by other nineteenth-century national movements, Zionism differed in several key respects. The Jews lacked not only a common language and land, but, arguably, even a common history. As the Jews were gradually emancipated throughout Western Europe, they often repudiated all ‘national’ elements of Judaism, preferring to view other Jews as ‘coreligionists’ and other Frenchmen, Germans, etc. as fellow countrymen.

Zionism emerged, in large part, as a response to the failed promises of emancipation. As faith in full emancipation and social acceptance was belied by a resurgence of pogroms, the emergence of modern anti-Semitism, and the rise of nationalist movements, some European Jews began to reevaluate the Enlightenment view that the Jews could become full and equal members of society after a process of moral, religious and occupational ‘regeneration.’

This course will explore the wide range of responses to this crisis through an examination of selected Zionist thinkers and their writings. Beginning with the Zionist "precursors" of the mid-nineteenth century, the course will analyze seminal texts that reflect the basic diversity of the Zionist idea up until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. These texts provide not only dissenting critiques of the Jewish plight in the diaspora, but also shed light on the competing conceptualizations of the Jewish future. The Zionist thinkers envisioned Zion as a purely political entity, as a Jewish state grounded in socialist ideas, as a site for the regeneration of the Jewish people, as the cultural center for Diaspora Jewry, as the locus of messianic redemption.

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download the bibliography

 

Messianism: From the Age of Revelation to the Age of Revolution
Michael Miller & Matthias Riedl
4 credits

This course will explore the ancient messianic idea, its spatial expansion, and its ideational development up to the present. The topic will be approached from a wide variety of disciplines (Political Science, History, Philosophy, Anthropology), sharing a common focus on the messiah as a central and enduring symbol of Jewish and Christian societies and their interconnected eschatological expectations.
The course is divided into two parts. The first part covers the ancient oriental origins of the messianic idea and its articulation in Judaism and Christianity up to the Late Middle Ages. The second part focuses on the messianic symbolisms in modern Christian and Jewish societies but also in the political visions of liberalism and socialism, in Romantic literature, as well as in idealist and existential philosophy.

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Paths to Jewish Emancipation
Michael Miller
4 credits

This course will examine the processes leading to the civic and political emancipation of the Jews in nineteenth-century Europe. It will focus on aspects of the legal, social and cultural history of the Jews from the sixteenth century onward in an effort to understand the different paths to emancipation in England, Western Europe, and Central Europe. It will also look at various trends - including religious reform, racial antisemitism, Jewish assimilation and Jewish nationalism - whose development was part and parcel of the struggle for emancipation.

 

Russia and Poland as Multi-National States: The Jews as Case Study, 1772-1917
Michael Miller

This course examines the history of the Jews in Russia and Poland, placing particular emphasis on social, economic and religious transformations in the period framed by the Partitions of Poland – when the Russian Empire first acquired its Jews – and the Russian Revolution – when Russia’s Jews finally received equal political and legal rights. Imperial Russia’s policies towards the Jews reflected the semi-feudal structure of the state, the exigencies of a multi-national empire, and the enduring legacy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. On this backdrop, the course seeks to understand the inordinate attention paid to the ‘Jewish Question’ by the imperial government as well as the myriad ideological and demographic responses by the empire’s Jews. The course also introduces a comparative perspective, examining Jewish enlightenment (Haskalah), religious and educational movements, economic and gender stratification, urbanization and politicization – in comparison to other populations within the Russian Empire and other Jewish communities in Central and Western Europe.

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Holocaust, Memory, Gender
Andrea Pető
2 credits

The course aims to interrogate the emerging field created by the intersection of Jewish Studies and Memory to study the literary and artistic representation of the Holocaust. The course covers the topics of how memory of Holocaust is inscribed, framed, mediated and performed. The course also includes field trips to the Jewish monuments of Hungary. It consists of two parts: an overview and theoretical introduction is followed by the analyses of the different forms of representation: literature, ego documents, films, internet, textbooks, statues, monuments, photos, oral histories, youtube videos.

 

The Struggle over Identity: The Dilemmas of Jews in Austria-Hungary and Its Successor States
Marsha Rozenblit

The course investigates the nature of Jewish identity in Central Europe from the late eighteenth century, when the Habsburg authorities first urged Jews to obtain modern, secular, German education, through the middle of the twentieth century.

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Assimilation and its Discontents. Central European Jewish Writers and Literature
Ivan Sanders

This course examines prose and poetry by writers generally less accessible to English-speaking students, written in the major Central European languages: German, Hungarian, Czech and Polish. Here, too, the problematics of assimilation, the search for identity, political commitment and disillusionment are major themes, along with the defining experience of the century: the Holocaust; but because these writers are often more removed from their Jewishness, their perspective on these events and issues may be different. Specific topics will also include the influence of Franz Kafka on Central European writers, the post-Communist Jewish revival, as well as the difficult question of what constitutes the “Jewish voice” in an otherwise disparate body of works.

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Being Jewish in European and American Cinema 1914-2006
Frank Stern

The 20th century of film, the development of cinema as art and as the most important medium in visual culture has created an immense body of imaginative representations of Jewish topics, of Jewish women and men. Film has reflected Jewish history and culture, religion and secularization. Film itself became a sphere of acculturation in the first two decades of film. Since then, cinema in Europe and in America has dealt with questions of Jewish identity, of Jewish modernism, antisemitism, Zionism, and, above all with the challenges for Jewish life after the Shoah. The course will discuss a broad variety of fiction films, styles, aesthetics, directors, actresses and actors with an impact on the visual representation of things Jewish. The discussion is based on mandatory reading and the screening of film clips. The participants will keep a film journal based on the screenings.

 

Can Liberal Nationalism be implemented? The Israeli Test-Case
Yael Tamir

Nationalism and liberalism are commonly viewed as antithetical ideologies, incapable of synthesis in today's world.  At the end of
the twentieth century, there was a widespread assumption that the age of nationalism was over, thus obviating the need to reconcile nationalism
and liberalism.  With the recognition that this assumption was wrong,
it is now necessary to reevaluate nationalism and introduce national
values to the liberal discourse.  This course will examine the case of Israel -  a twentieth-century attempt to create a liberal democracy while
simultaneously promoting and safeguarding national values - in an
effort to understand whether liberal nationalism can transcend theoretical
discussion and actually be implemented.

 

Advanced Source Reading: Medieval Hebrew Text Seminar
Carsten Wilke
2 credits

This course will provide a practical introduction to the study of Hebrew primary sources from the 9th-16th centuries. In order to allow students of different levels to profit from the class, our weekly readings will be very short extracts (each one around 250 words, or less than a page), but will extend over a wide range of literary genres, styles, periods, and geographical environments. Students will thus acquire a first hand knowledge of the basic linguistic and generic conventions and experience the various literary styles and linguistic textures present in medieval Hebrew literature.

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Intensive Reading Seminar: Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise
Matthias Riedl & Carsten Wilke
2 credits

Baruch (Benedict) de Spinoza (1632-1677) is without doubt one of the most interesting, influential, but also ambiguous philosophical thinkers of early modern Europe. A son of Portuguese Jewish immigrants in the liberal environment of the Dutch republic, he was expulsed from his synagogue at the age of twenty-three and became the first European to live avowedly outside any religious community. Educated in the intellectual universe of the Scriptures and medieval Jewish rationalism, he radically questioned this legacy, but at the same time read it in a new way and brought it to bear upon the central questions of religious authority, political justice, and civil liberty. The "Theological-Political Treatise" (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, henceforth TTP), which Spinoza published anonymously in 1670, is widely considered to be the founding document of modern Biblical criticism and the scientific study of religion. It has been read as a philosophical pamphlet vindicating freedom of thought, but also as the project of a secular state inheriting quasi-religious claims of obedience.

The seminar will be based on a complete and cautious reading of the TTP, accompanied by secondary literature and short extracts from Spinoza's sources in medieval and contemporary philosophy, mainly Moses Maimonides and Thomas Hobbes. Each weekly session will be dedicated simultaneously to a section from the text and to one of the various interrelated themes of the book: Biblical and Jewish history, the political deconstruction of religion, the project of a universal natural faith, the foundations of political power, and the philosophical apology of democratic pluralism. Spinoza's pantheist metaphysics, that are alluded to in the TTP, shall be reviewed in its impact on later idealistic philosophies. Spinoza's analysis of the Biblical and medieval ideas of divine rule will be read as a classical conceptualization of the "theological-political problem": the antagonistic and yet inseparable historic conjunction of politics and religion.

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Introduction to Medieval Jewish Civilization
Carsten Wilke & Hanna Zaremska
2 credits

This course will follow a global approach to medieval Jewry by describing the latter as a civilization (in the sense of Mordecai M. Kaplan) characterized by features of social organization, cultural creativity, and symbolic worldview. We will focus on the internal developments and on interactions with the non-Jewish environment; but the evolution of the Christian and Islamic attitudes towards the Jewish minority shall also be resumed. The course is co-taught, its last two sessions being held by visiting professor Hanna Zaremska from the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The chronology of the Jewish Middle Ages is framed by migration movements: Byzantine, Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewries emerged in the course of a westward shift of Jewish settlement from the late antique centers in Palestine and Babylonia, and declined by outside pressure and expulsions at the end of the period. West European and North African Jews of the 10th-15th century developed a pattern of decentralized diaspora existence, based upon the legal and cultural autonomy of each local community within the wide network of traders and scholars. The "vertical alliance" with the monarchy and an economic specialization implied constant social interaction with non-Jews, but also an increasing socio-political vulnerability. In correspondence between the centers under Christian and Islamic rule, a system of Biblical and Talmudic exegesis took shape; and its flexible conception of religious law, the halakha, aspired at an ideal cohesion between the sources of learned culture, internal government, and popular custom. New social groups and intellectual movements based on as philosophy, mystic piety or messianic expectation at various moments challenged the halakhic framework of authority.

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Jewish Thought in the Twentieth Century
Carsten Wilke
2 credits

Based on selected primary texts, this course will survey the questions, styles and contexts of the contemporary conceptualizations of Judaism, exploring a surprisingly eventful chapter in the age-old encounter between philosophy and religion. Although Historicism and pragmatic social engineering seemed to have marginalized speculative reasoning by the end of the Nineteenth Century, the philosophic quest for Judaism's message and meaning revived forcefully after the First World War. The downfall of the liberal paradigm that had interpreted Jewish practical monotheism in the light of Kantian ethics called for attempts at a radical reorientation, which returned to the heteronomy of tradition or embraced secular modes of existentialist, nationalist or revolutionary thought. Directly or indirectly, the Holocaust inspired a far-reaching cultural criticism, but has also intensified the search for minimal certainties in the field of ethics and politics. More than in any other period, Jewish thought has became intertwined with mainstream philosophy. Not only did Jewish thought share most intellectual movements of the past century, from existentialism and Marxism to deconstruction, feminism and the post-modern linguistic turn; it has also injected to mainstream philosophy the resources and responses of its own. In particular, the work of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas became influential for the philosophical discovery of otherness and the intercultural encounter. Throughout the class, we will explore the diversity of approaches to the classical theological problems as well as to the distinctive contemporary issues of language, history, politics, gender, cultural diversity and identity. We will not try to define Jewish thought by an ideal type of the Jewish philosopher, but consider texts of different literary styles and of various origins in the Jewish collectivity (even some from outside it), as far as they have endeavored to fulfill the central task of Jewish thought: to give an expression in universal terms to the scriptural and historical memory of Judaism.

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Medieval Iberian Jewry under Muslim and Christian Rule
Carsten Wilke
2 credits

Being an introduction to one of Europe's main Jewish cultures, this course spans more than a millennium of Jewish presence on Iberian soil, from its beginnings under the Roman Empire until the expulsions from Spain, Portugal, and Navarra during the years 1492-1498. It will point out how ethnic and religious pluralization following the Muslim conquest of 711 relieved the minority of pressure and created social niches for inter-communal and inter-cultural intermediaries, and how this favorable position was progressively eroded by the race towards religious homogenization engaged by Muslim and Christian rulers alike. While focusing on Sephardi Jewry's political, economical, and social history, the course will also study its intellectual creativity, its legal and liturgical traditions, its internal organization, and its influential elitist self-image. It will present the complex evolution of community interaction and de-pluralization while deconstructing a still popular narrative inherited from 19th century liberal historiography, which hinges on the commonplaces of Moorish tolerance, inquisitorial Christianity, and Jewish diaspora's proverbial golden age.

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Paths to Jewish Emancipation
Carsten Wilke
4 credits

The course will study the radical transformation in the political status and the self-definition of European Jews during the 18th and 19th centuries. The transition between the two antagonistic social conditions commonly labelled "ghetto" and "emancipation" will be analyzed in its various dimensions: civic inclusion, legal equality, social acceptance, adaptation to middle class economy and culture, religious reform, and historical self-consciousness. Starting with an appraisal of pre-modern Jewish society, the course will distinguish the various patterns of sociocultural change realized by the Western, Central and Eastern European Jewries within their peculiar political frameworks. It will show how the emancipation era affected rural and urban Jews, men and women differently, and how cultural and religious pluralism was generalized as one of the main challenges to Jewish life. We will finally place the emancipation process in the long-term evolution of Jewish society since the Middle Ages and discuss the meta-narratives that either extol or blame its impact on modern Jewish history.

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Problems and Paradigms in Jewish Studies: How to write on Jewish Subjects
Carsten Wilke
2 credits

The seminar will provide students in the Jewish Studies Specialization with the necessary complement to the methodological classes and thesis workshops offered by their departments. Its leading idea is that analytical categories such as modernity, spatio-temporal continuity, cultural embeddedness, social and symbolic power are essential for research on Jewish topics, but have to be critically appropriated in order to encompass the conditions of a diaspora collectivity with its dialectics of text and custom and its peculiar (in)distinction between the religious and the secular. The main part of the class, consisting of ten sessions held during the winter term, will survey past and present historiography reflecting upon some of these problematics and discuss their practical implications for research. The remaining sessions, held by appointment during the spring term, will have the form of individual discussions about the students' ongoing research, based on a previously submitted outline of their thesis. Approaches to Jewish Studies are indebted to conceptions of Jewishness inherited from religious tradition, from acculturated ideas of a spiritual mission, or from national categories of self-definition. Post-modernist currents, dismissing any "master narratives" based upon essentialist preconceptions of this sort, have defended the inherently multicultural character of Jewish history and decribed it in relation to its existential conditions such as diaspora or subalternity. Recent research has thus reformulated the question of modernity, the dialectics of gender and power in Jewish minority history.

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Sephardic Jewry in Exile, 1492 - present
Carsten Wilke
4 credits

After the Iberian Jewish center collapsed in the late middle ages due to expulsion and forced baptism, Sephardic Jewry became one of Europe's most vibrant diaspora groups. This course will follow the various reincarnations of Spanish Judaism in its (either geographic or religious) exile, distinguishing three neatly divided branches. A majority group among Spanish Jews, victims of mass conversions since 1391, underwent a difficult but ultimately complete integration into the Christian fold. A second group left the Peninsula in 1492, integrating the Islamic monarchies of the Mediterranean while linguistic conservatism, cultural memories and economic contacts often linked it to the West. The third group, Jews of various Iberian origins forcibly baptized in Portugal in 1497, lived under the Inquisition for generations until many of them, in search of security, economic opportunity, and religious freedom, trickled out into early modern Europe and America as the harbingers of a reinvented Judaism. The course will reflect upon the contrasting presence of religious dynamics and historical memory among these three groups, upon its minority functions of economic and cultural brokerage inherited from medieval Spain, and finally upon the paradigmatic value their diaspora identity obtained in modern Jewish consciousness.

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Transnationalism and the Jews of the Nineteenth Century
Carsten Wilke
2 credits

This course highlights the trans-national counter-current that emerged in the patterns of modern Jewish thought and communal organization at the very time when all the efforts of European Jewry into its progressive integration into the respective nation-states. It will detect the social and cultural motivations that counteracted to the national fragmentation of Jewish identities: the unabated demographic realities of Jewish migration and dispersion, the age-old religious ideas of Jewish solidarity and messianic mission, the involvement of many Western Jews in global commerce and liberal cosmopolitan consciousness, and finally the return of anti-Jewish prejudice, with exclusion and persecution pressing for joint action by Jewish communities. The course will focus, among others, upon the selected contexts of Jewish political universalism during the European revolutions of 1848, internationally coordinated pressure in favor of the Jews of the Balkans and the Islamic world, and the institutionalization of liberal utopism and trans-national organization by the Alliance Israélite Universelle in 1860. By studying the parallel evolution of anti-Semitic myths about Jewish world conspiracy and Jewish ideals regarding the trans-national defense of civil rights, the course will expound the dilemma any form of Jewish cosmopolitanism presented to its adherents in an age of nation-building and the efforts that were made to resolve it.

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