Problems and Paradigms in Jewish Studies

Course Description: 

This seminar, a mandatory class of the CEU Jewish Studies Specialization, also welcomes students of other programs who are more generally interested in minority history. Designed as an overview of Jewish Studies methods, the class provides a necessary complement to the methodological classes and thesis workshops offered by the departments. Its leading idea is that analytical categories such as modernity, spatio-temporal continuity, cultural interaction, social and symbolic power are essential for the research on Jewish topics; however, they have to be critically appropriated in order to encompass the conditions of a diaspora collectivity that follows the authority of sacred texts and social customs and that observes a peculiar (in)distinction between the religious and the secular. The first part of the class, consisting of five sessions, will survey the historiographical traditions reflecting upon these problematics since the beginning of scientific study of Jewish history and culture in the nineteenth century. The latter part of the class, consisting of seven sessions, will give an as far as possible systematic appraisal of the current research trends, critically assessing their theoretical bases and discussing their practical implications for research.

Learning Outcomes: 

The main goal of the class is to guide students towards enriching the questions and methods of their own research, consciously placing their approach inside the general debates in the field of Jewish Studies.


Grades will be based on class participation (30%), one orally presented book review (20%) and one seminar paper of 3,500 words at least (50%).