Medieval Jewish-Christian Encounter
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COURSE DESCRIPTION: Jews and Christians encountered and responded to one another in medieval Europe in a variety of contexts and fashions, some of which were deliberate and conscious, others of which were less so. These encounters, complex and complicated as they were, had a significant impact on the experiences and cultures of both the Jewish minority and the Christian majority. This course aims to explore positive as well as negative encounters between Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages and to consider the changing position of Jews in Christian society along with Jewish responses to those changes.¶ We will look not only at how the majority Christian culture conceived of and related to Jews but will also focus on how the minority Jewish culture related to and constructed the majority culture in which it was embedded. One of the primary concerns of this course is to consider medieval Jews as actors and not solely as acted on. We will emphasize the reading of accounts written by medieval Jews and consider what they reflect about the contexts and concerns of their authors.¶ The historiography of the medieval Jewish-Christian encounter will be an additional area of focus of this course. In addition to consideration of the movement of the Jewish experience from the periphery to the center of medieval studies, this course will also examine contemporary historiographic trends in the study of medieval Jews and Christians, including the questions of Jewish acculturation, negative Jewish attitudes toward Christianity, and Jewish attraction to Christianity.¶ COURSE OBJECTIVES: In this course you will become knowledgeable about the range of Jewish experiences in the Middle Ages. You will also learn how historians try to make sense of the past.¶ This course will emphasize the processes by which historians try to understand the past. We will therefore focus significantly on primary sources, both visual and textual, produced by those whom we are trying to understand. You will learn how historians approach primary texts, consider what kinds of questions can be asked of texts, and explore how historians use evidence to construct a historical narrative. In other words, you will begin to think like a historian about the medieval Jewish experience.¶ Through the course’s written assignments you will gain proficiency in expressing yourself clearly and effectively in writing while you explore at first hand some of the issues confronted by historians.
Levin, C. (2022, Fall). JHI1301: Medieval Jewish History. Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University.
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