(J ST 457, SOC 457)
Jewish Communities: Identity, Survival, and Transformation in Unexpected Places (3) Examines the global array of smaller Jewish communities that have flourished outside the main urban centers of Jewish settlement.
ANTH (J ST/SOC) 457 Jewish Communities: Identity, Survival, and Transformation in Unexpected Places (3)
This course addresses an understudied aspect of Jewish experience. It aims to expand our understanding of Jewish communities by focusing on those that are, alternatively, small, situated in out-of-the-way places, culturally outside the Jewish urban mainstream, or embedded in a larger society with markedly different values and traditions. These communities often constitute the points-of-contact between Jews and non-Jews, and in so doing sometimes transform Jews, non-Jews, and the relationships among them. Other such communities constitute experiments in Jewish lifeways and provide mainstream Jews with pilot projects for potential social and cultural change. This course will explore the significance of small, little-known, idiosyncratic, and anomalous Jewish communities on Jewish history and culture, and draw on them to instruct students on the social and cultural processes of small or unusual communities generally. The communities studied will be located both in the U.S. and elsewhere in which Jews have lived as a minority community during modern times. The course will look at the founding, growth, and decline of such communities and at their social processes and institutions. It will explore how to understand and analyze such communities, which vary from one part of the world to another. The social world of Jewish communities, large and small, is a core interest of Penn State’s Jewish Studies Program. This course will complement the current offerings in Jewish Studies, strengthening the social, cultural, and contemporary perspectives available in the Program. It will provide students with an opportunity to explore individual experience and micro-level processes among Jews, and to study the dynamics of identity and survival. It will complement the current offerings in Sociology and Anthropology by affording an opportunity to focus on community-level social processes and by adding a course on contemporary Jewry. The course will integrate knowledge from a variety of sources and fields, promote intercultural understanding, and meet US and IL requirements. Materials will be interdisciplinary, and will include ethnographies, sociological studies, population studies, histories, and personal narratives. They will include primary texts, creative works, and scholarly analyses. The assignments will be structured to facilitate preliminary experience in independent analysis, library research, or field research. The course will be offered approximately once a year.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.