Delineation and analysis of a specific problem or related problems in anthropology. Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty.
This course will explore the dynamics of the Jewish wedding from biblical times to modern day Israel as a central event in the life cycle. The focus of the class will be on material culture and a wide range of Judaic as well general works of art which pertain to the wedding. The visual evidence will be examined by employing methodologies current in the fields of anthropology, folklore, cultural studies and art history. What and how the images and objects can teach us about the ever-changing rituals, customs, daily life, concepts and ideals of the wedding in various Jewish societies and their cultural interactions with the host societies, whether in Christian Europe or the Islamic East? We will explore how these interactions influenced the formulation of a rich Jewish visual culture that opens new directions for research of Jewish daily life, material culture, and artistic ideals and aspirations - all in the service of the ages old life cycle ritual. Emphasis will be placed on bygone rituals and ceremonies, magic and the protection of the bridal couple (and others), religious concepts, the formulation and art of the Jewish marriage contract (ketubbah), related ceremonies in the life cycle, as well as mystic-symbolic marriages (e.g., the wedding between God and Israel). Aside from biblical Judaism and Talmudic society, central Jewish communities that will be dealt with are: Medieval Germany, Renaissance Italy, Baroque Holland, 19th c. Poland, and Turkey, Morocco, Yemen, Iraq, Kurdistan and the land of Israel of the last centuries. Finally, we will examine how the past traditions and rituals were transformed, altered and reshaped in the modern world – whether in the State of Israel or the United States.
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