Jess J Olson
The late 19th century in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a period of massive development and immense creativity. Playing no small part in the dynamism, complexity (and often conflict) of the period were the numerous groups, including national and religious minorities, of which the Empire was composed. Among them, the Jews of the fin-de-siecle Empire were a significant presence in the process of modernization, and contributed profoundly in shaping and texturing Austro-Hungarian society in a number of areas, including politics, science, literature and thought. This course will explore the meaning and implications of minority and the confrontation with modernity faced by a multi-national empire. Our approach will be to use the Jewish communities in the Empire as a case study, and seek to understand and the major events, movements and individuals which shaped them. Our study will be in part intellectual history as we explore the intellectual life among Jews of the major cities of the Empire, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. At the same time, we will investigate themes central to Jewish identity in Austro-Hungary, such as nationalism and patriotism, religion and aesthetics. We will seek to understand patterns of life as they emerged in various areas of the Empire from the 1860s to the years immediately after the First World War and the Empire’s disintegration.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Some lecture, but great deal of instructor and student-led discussion.
Nothing required, but familiarity with either general modern European history, central European history, European intellectual history, or modern Jewish history can be helpful.
Class assignments and grading
>> Significant amount of reading, and two medium writing assignments.
>> Class participation and evalutaton of writing assignments. >>