JHIS 4932: Jewish historical thought
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¶We take Jewish history for granted. We assume that we know what we mean when we talk about history, but do we? As one of the longest “histories” of any group in the human family, Jewish history spans unimaginable epochs of time, physical locations that span the globe, and considerable diversity. So what does “the” history of the Jewish people look like? ¶Of course there is no single answer to this question. But in this class we will take the question of what, exactly, it means to write Jewish history seriously as a historical question. Our purpose here is to uncover and examine many of the approaches and varieties of Jewish history over the entire span of the (recorded) history of the Jewish people. We will be paying particular attention to the ways in which understandings of history have developed both within the Jewish context and in relationship to the historical self-understanding of the many cultures in which Jews have been embedded. ¶Functionally, our course will span the entirety of Jewish history from the closing of the canonization of Tanakh, through the Rabbinic and Ganoic periods, the Middle Ages, early modern period, and modern period, up to the present day. In terms of readings and texts, each week you will notice the readings divided between “primary” and “secondary” readings. You are responsible for the “secondary” readings on your own, while the primary readings we will be examining and discussing together in class. ¶My goal for all of us is to have as pleasant and engaging experience in investigating our subject as possible. My approach in class will be to utilize multimedia presentations (contained on Prezi; you will all receive a link to use the Prezi presentations at your leisure outside of class time), combined with presentation of content and frequent discussions. I do understand that the challenges of technology, which are often difficult to anticipate, will make our work together a bit unpredictable, but it is my hope that we will have a vibrant course nevertheless. ¶Please be sure to attend class regularly, While I understand folks need to step away from time to time while class is in session, please prepare to be present for the ENTIRE class, and keep interruptions to a minimum. ¶Goals: 1. To understand what we mean by Jewish historiography (the writing of Jewish history) by different Jewish communities over the length of (recorded) Jewish history a. Subgoal: What makes a Jewish historical text “history”? What are the defining criteria of history writing? 2. To gain an overview of the various trends, and driving themes, of the writing of Jewish history 3. To understand the various interactions between “inside” (that is, internal Jewish historiography) and “outside” (that is, general or non-Jewish historiography) forms of history writing 4. To write Jewish history! How do you do it (i.e., how do you write history in general? What is history writing as a discipline? How does it differ from other ways of writing?
Olson, J. (2022, Fall). Syllabus: JHIS 4932: Jewish historical thought. Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University.
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