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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Richard Block
SISJE 490
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Content varies.

Class description

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?

Readings include works by Moses Mendelssohn, Rachel Varnhagen, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, Martin Buber, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

lecture/discussion

Recommended preparation

general knowledge of European history >>>

Class assignments and grading

short quizzes, one 3-4 page essay, and a take-home final

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: 04/25/2007