Spring 2019 HC 431H: The Jewish Encounter with Modernity (JDST 213)

Spring Term 2018 - 2019

Professor: Monique Rodrigues Balbuena

4.00 credits

  • CRN 33036: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00 - 11:50 @ GSH 130

This course is open to CHC students.  Graduation Requirement: This class will fulfill the following requirement: a Social Science Colloquium (431H). If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill an Elective Colloquium.

In order to receive Colloquium credits, Honors College students will additionally do a book presentation, and write both an annotated bibliography and a 15-page take-home final research paper.

From the Spanish Expulsion in 1492 to legal Emancipation in 1791, Jewish culture, society and politics underwent significant changes. Jews faced unprecedent challenges with the advent of Modernity. In their complex transition from Medievalism to Modernity, Jews had to redefine what it means “to be Jewish” in virtually every aspect of life, from politics and religion, to art and music. 

This course will look at this process of how Jews and Judaism were transformed, focusing on the aftermath of the Expulsion, the religious, intellectual and socio-economic dimensions of Sephardic dispersion, women’s lives, the Enlightenment and the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment), and the impact of Emancipation in the lives of Jews in Europe and beyond. 

We will read biographies of a German businesswoman, Glickl of Hameln, and of a Lithuanian German-language philosopher, Solomon Maimon. We will observe how some non-Jewish writers, such as Voltaire, Diderot, and Abbé Grégoire, viewed and represented Jews. We will read essays by the proponents of the Science of Judaism, and by those who shaped Reform Judaism, Modern Orthodoxy, and political Zionism. We will also look at the role of Jewish and non-Jewish languages in the development of a secular Jewish culture, and listen to music from Jews in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.