Erica T Lehrer
Europe and the Jews.
Given the hardships for Jews in 20th century Europe, including the dramatic destruction of most of Central Europe's Jewish communities, what are Jews still doing in Europe, particularly East-Central Europe? American Jews tend to see Europe as a site of Jewish death rather than Jewish life (a dark perspective that not only overshadows, but also actively shapes, the lives of those Jews and non-Jews who live there). But the collapse of Communism in the former Soviet Union and its satellite states has revealed Jewish communities that are not only dwindling due to aging, emigration and assimilation, but also forming newly assertive groups with new orientations, identities, and concerns. What kinds of Jews and 'Jewishness' are emerging in the 'new Europe'? And how do Jews elsewhere relate to these new – and newly accessible – communities and landscapes? How do non-Jews see and engage them? Using a variety of texts, films, and present-day artifacts, we will explore key issues facing present and future Jewish Europe. Topics will include cultural revival and innovation, transnational connections, new identifications, cultural heritage, Holocaust memory and memorial practices, reconciliation, emigration, new freedoms and constraints, anti- and philo-Semitisms. This course will be conducted in seminar fashion, and students will be graded on active preparation and participation, leading discussion, and completing multiple short, and one longer, final paper.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This course will be conducted in seminar fashion using a variety of texts, films, and present-day artifacts.
Class assignments and grading
Students will be graded on active preparation and participation, leading discussion, and on the completion of multiple short, and one longer, final paper.