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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Richard Block
SISJE 295
Seattle Campus

The Contributions of German Jews to German Culture

Contribution, assimilation and alienation of German-speaking Jews - such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Franz Kafka - emphasizing the multi-cultural nature of that which is understood as "German culture." Offered: jointly with GERMAN 295.

Class description

German Jewish Writers: Enlightenment to Auschwitz

What does it mean to seek equal status as a citizen when the primary marker of one’s identity, that of being Jewish, is indicative of a dream to return to Zion? How does one demand of the other, the Jew, that (s)he become German when the very notion of “Germanness” is vague, uncertain, and forever changing? These are the primary questions that will structure our discussions during the term. We will also be interested in the tragic trajectory that proposed solutions to these problems assumed. In other words, we will seek to understand why for Jews the eventual solution to their predicament in Germany was to abandon dreams of assimilation and argue for the birth of a Jewish state. Conversely, we will examine how religious anti-Semitism led to racial anti-Semitism and finally to genocidal anti-Semitism. That is, how for Germans the solution to the “Jewish problem” became a final one: the extermination of all Jews from the globe.

The course will also pursue a second trajectory, namely, the messianic in Jewish thought. How does the coming of the messiah or the fact that he has not yet arrived affect the disposition Jews assume toward their own lives? How do they read history? How do they conceive of truth when truth is not yet revealed save through ritual law? And finally, what does revolution have to do with the Jewish notion of messianism?

(w/GERMAN 295/C LIT 396/CHID 270)

Student learning goals

--Modern history of Jewish and German relations

--Modern notions of Jewish messianism

--Critical reading skills for discussing cultural texts

--Issues that affect minorities attempting to assimilate into a dominate culture.

--Expository writing skills

General method of instruction

lecture and discussion

Recommended preparation

All are welcome.

Class assignments and grading

Three short papers and a final essay.

Written assignments and class participation.


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.
Last Update by Loryn Hazan Paxton
Date: 10/19/2010