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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Martin S. Jaffee
SISJE 250
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Jewish Cultural History

Introductory orientation to the settings in which Jews have marked out for themselves distinctive identities as a people, a culture, and as a religious community. Examines Jewish cultural history as a production of Jewish identity that is always produced in conversation with others in the non-Jewish world. Offered: jointly with HIST 250.

Class description

Students will leave the course with a cogent picture of the broad sweep of the cultural history of the Jews from roughly the mid-first milennium BCE till the 20th century. Key creative epochs of this history will be explored in depth: e.g., the emergence of rabbinic culture, the interaction of rabbinic culture with Christian and Islamic cultures, the development of the Sephardic diaspora, the modernization of Jewish cultures in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Ottoman Empire, the creation of distinctive Jewish cultures in North America and the State of Israel.

Student learning goals

Students will develop facility in theorizing the general relationship of culture to collective social identity.

Students will be able to link major developments in the history of Jewish cultures to the larger historical and cultural currents that provide their context.

Students will discern the many connections between religion and secularity that are characteristic of Jewish cultures

General method of instruction

Lectures and discussion. In one unit, lectures will be supplemented with recorded music.

Recommended preparation

Religion 210 would be an excellent preparation for this course but there are no prerequisties. Students are encouraged to keep up witth the reading.

Class assignments and grading

General reading assignments for the most part, are in the range of 20-30 pages per class seciton.

See syllabus


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Martin S. Jaffee
Date: 04/29/2010