Courses Offered in History

American Jewish History (Hart)
The United States has been, overall, an extraordinarily hospitable place for Jews. Jews very quickly came to believe that America was a "promised land," a place very different from the countries from which they came. This course introduces students to the major events and issues in American Jewish history, and offers a sense of why Jews have felt "at home in America." It focuses on the themes of immigration, assimilation, and collective survival. We will examine how Jews succeeded in America, in realms such as popular entertainment (movies, theater, television), academia, trade and commerce. And we'll explore the implications of this success, the impact such successes has had on Jewish identity and culture.

Apocalypse and Millennium: Exploring a Theme in Western Culture (Caputo)
With approach of calendar year 2000, predictions of disaster and impending doom became a natural part of the western cultural vernacular. Are such predictions unique to this time and place, or do they have their origins elsewhere? This class sets out to consider the religious, historical, and literary roots of the western fascination with the millennium and apocalypticism. We will begin our survey with a discussion of biblical sources, then we will trace these themes through late antiquity and the middle ages, ending with a discussion of apocalypse, messianism and millennium in the modern world as represented in political movements, scholarship and film. Students will conduct research on an apocalyptic movement, figure, or narrative of their choice and write a paper demonstrating how apocalyptic symbols, narrative structures or imagery from the biblical and late-antique sources were adapted in that literature. Lectures and discussions will focus on close examination of texts and discussion of modern scholarship.

Genocide, Displacement, and Ethnic Cleansing (Freifeld)
Every major war in the twentieth century ended in genocide and ethnic cleansing. The Armenian massacres were a harbinger of the extraordinary tragedy to come. This course will focus on the Holocaust as a cataclysm within Central (Eastern) European society. World War II was followed by the largest mass migration of people's in world history. We will read about the human dilemma of Holocaust survivors, the millions of German expellees, POWs, and traumatized residents as the victorious powers redrew borders, deported minorities, and cared for "stateless" peoples. We will conclude with the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.

History of the Holocaust (Giles)
A survey of the origins of anti-Semitism in central Europe, and the execution of the Holocaust by Nazi Germany. Examines not only the ideology of the Nazi leaders, but the role of the SS, Army, Police and ordinary citizens in perpetrating genocide.

History of Zionism (Saposnik)
When Theodor Herzl first proposed the creation of a Jewish state, many people thought he had lost his mind. Fifty years later, the state of Israel was created. Today (fifty years later still), we can scarcely imagine a daily newspaper in which the Jewish state does not occupy a central place. In this course we will try to understand these dramatic changes as we examine the origins of the state of Israel and of Israeli society and culture on the backdrop of European, world, and Jewish history.

Jewish History: 711-1492 (Caputo)
This course will survey major historic developments in medieval Jewish society under both Islam and western Christendom. We will look at the divergence of Judaism and Christianity, the rise of the Babylonian geonim, the social and cultural history of Jews in the Arab Mediterranean world, the emergence of Jewish communities in Medieval Ashkenaz, and the impact on Jewish society of the Crudsades, the Reconquista, the emergence of the mendicant orders, and the Black Death. In the lectures, readings, and assignments, students will examine the iteration of Jews with the majority culture, political structure, and economy, as well as changing cultural and intellectual trends within Jewish society. The distinctive religious climate of the medieval period will serve as a unifying theme throughout. We will study primary sources as well as recent historical scholarship.

Jewish History: 1492- the Enlightenment (Caputo)
This course will survey major trends in Jewish society and culture from the break-up of the medieval world to the emergence of a new order in 18th century Europe. We will trace the effect of the Spanish exile on existing communities, the founding of new communities, and the complex relationship factions within Jewish communities during this period.

Jews and Christians in Conflict and Contact in the Middle Ages (Caputo)
The historical imagination tends to characterize the Christian middle ages as a period during which the Jews endured prolonged periods of legal and cultural alienation and violent persecution. While this characterization is partially accurate, historical sources reveal a much more complicated picture of medieval Jewish life and culture. This class will explore the uneasy and complex relationship between Jews and Christians from the 9th to the 15th century. We will examine primary sources reflection cultural, social, religious, and political affinities and tensions between Judaism and Christianity, as well as interpretations of these sources by modern historians of the middle ages.

The Jews of Sepharad (Caputo)
Iberian Jewry alternately experienced periods of the greatest cultural and social integration, and the most systematic persecution among the Jews of premodern Europe. In spite of (or perhaps as a result of) these widely varied social, cultural, and legal circumstances, Iberian Jewry as a community developed a remarkably durable and complicated identification with Iberian culture. This class will examine the history, culture, religion, and society of Spanish Jewish communities beginning in the early middle ages, and follow those communities to selected settlements following the expulsion from Spain in 1492. Throughout, we will examine the relationship between Sephardic communities and the changing horizons of diaspora.

Modern European Jewish History (Hart)
This course introduces students to the main themes and events of European Jewish history in the years 1789-1945. We will deal with emancipation and assimilation; anti-Semitism; Zionism and socialism; Nazism and the Holocaust.

20th Century Germany (Giles)
Collapse of the monarchy and tribulations of the Weimar Republic. A detailed examination of Hitler's seizure of power, and of social, political, and ideological aspects of the Third Reich. The two Germanys to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Writing the Jewish Middle Ages (Caputo)
This class will examine modern narratives of Jewish life, culture, and thought in the middle ages. Our course of study will be broken into four sections grouped chronologically and geographically, beginning in 19th century Germany and ending with contemporary scholarship. We will examine narrative techniques, recurring imagery, methods of analysis, formulation of arguments, and modes of demonstration, and we will fit these scholars into the broader context of scholarship on the Christian and Muslim middle ages.

Courses Offered in Other Departments:
African & Asian Languages and Literature, Anthropology, English, Geography, German and Slavic Studies, Linguistics, Music, Political Science, Religion, Jewish Studies





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African & Asian Languages and Literature, Anthropology, English, Geography, German and Slavic Studies, Linguistics, Music, Political Science, Religion, Jewish Studies