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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Jewish Studies (J ST)

J ST 114 (GH;US;IL) (RL ST 114) Modern Judaism (3) Trends in Jewish life and thought since the French revolution; Judaism's responses to the challenge of modernity.

J ST (RL ST) 114 Modern Judaism (3)
(GH;US;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

The course explores the opportunities and problems of Jews around the world from the late eighteenth century -- the "age of emancipation" -- to the present time. Commercial, political, and intellectual revolutions in the 1700s, giving rise to modern capitalism, republicanism, and an emphasis on reason, combined to induce political states to grant Jews unprecedented freedom. Emancipation introduced new elements into Jewish life: religious change, personal choice, and internal disagreements. In practical ways, life improved for Jews, as they became more prosperous and assimilated. But freedom also increased the chances for loss of identity, as liberals discarded some rituals as old-fashioned and many individuals chose to give up traditional practices. In addition, anti-Semitism persisted, although it was now, at times, more difficult to detect. Traditional forms of hostility to Jews, such as heresy trials and political expulsions, were replaced by subtle expressions of political and social discrimination. But hatred of Jews did not disappear, despite widespread acceptance in Western culture of political liberalism. The class explores these trends in Europe, the Americas, and Israel. It begins by looking at the fragile freedom of nineteenth-century Jews. In the twentieth century, Jewish experience has often been characterized by open conflict: in the Holocaust, the formation of Israel, contemporary black-Jewish relations in the United States, and Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle East. The course concludes with these recent struggles. Course readings include personal narratives (reminiscences or letters) and works of fiction (a short story, play, and novel). The class is primarily a discussion class, using writing assignments as the principal method of evaluation. The course requires three graded essays and an ungraded proposal. Students are also asked to keep a journal of commentary on course readings. Class attendance and participation are components of the final grade. The course serves as an introduction to modern Judaism as a religion and culture. It prepares undergraduate students for advanced work in European and American Judaism, as well as Israeli history and culture. These advanced courses are found in the Religious Studies and Jewish Studies programs and in the Departments of History and Comparative Literature. It may be used to complete the major or minor requirements in Religious Studies and Jewish Studies. The class fulfills the humanities requirement for non majors. The course is normally offered once every two years, and the enrollment is 40 students.


General Education: GH
Diversity: US;IL
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.