As you plan your Spring 2017 schedule, consider the following NYU Prague course!
HBRJD-UA 9103 Modern Jewish History
Instructor: Katerina Capkova
The contours of Jewish life in Europe (and around the world) transformed drastically between the 16th and 20th centuries: legally, culturally, religiously, and politically. As empires gave way to nation-states and new globalizing structures emerged, the main arenas of Jewish politics and politics about Jews shifted. During these years, Jews acquired new rights as individuals, including the right to re-interpret what it meant to be Jewish. At the same time, communal institutions lost many of their coercive and political functions. No aspect of Jewish experience remained unchanged by these processes of modernization, which acted upon Jews and in which Jews also took part. But what does “modern” mean? Is it a quality of a society or of individuals? Might it simply be an historical period and, if so, when and why did it begin? Has it ended and what were its main features? In this class, we will explore how modernization affected Jewish communities and individuals identified as Jewish in various European contexts. We will also seek to understand how different cohorts of Europeans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, sought to claim or reject modernity, with specific reference to the modern “Jewish Question.” What place, if any, do Jews have as individuals and collectives in new socio-political and cultural orders? We will thereby come to appreciate better what it meant to be a Jew (or not to be a Jew) in the modern world. Though globalization was a key feature of modernization, our course will pay more attention to histories of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, in order to take advantage of your unique opportunity to study history where it unfolded.