Paths to Jewish Emancipation

Course Description: 

This course will examine the processes leading to the civic and political emancipation of the Jews in nineteenth-century Europe.  It will focus on aspects of the legal, social and cultural history of the Jews from the sixteenth century onward in an effort to understand the different paths to emancipation in England, Western Europe, and Central Europe.  It will also look at various trends – including religious reform, racial antisemitism, Jewish assimilation and Jewish nationalism – whose development was part and parcel of the struggle for emancipation.

Learning Outcomes: 

At the end of this course, students should be familiar with the extensive debates about the place of Jews in European society in the early modern and modern periods.  They should have a fuller understanding of how these debates (and their outcomes) were shaped by the individual cultural, economic and national contexts, but also had a broader, pan-European character.  They should understand how the larger historiographical narratives are constructed out of the diverse primary sources that we will examine in this course.  They should develop critical reading skills, enabling them to analyze the literary, legal, religious and programmatic texts that were part of the larger debate about Jewish emancipation.  


Course Requirements


(1)   Regular attendance and participation (10%).   Students are expected to attend all classes and participate actively.  For missed classes, students will be expected to submit a written reaction to the assigned readings.


(2) In-Class Presentation (15% of the final grade).  In this 15-20-minute presentation, the student is expected to discuss the required readings and familiarize him/herself with some of the recommended readings.  S/he should raise questions that will help stimulate classroom discussion.


(3) Book Review (25% of the final grade).  3-5 pages.  In consultation with the instructor, students should select a book, which will ideally be related to the term paper topic.  


(4) Term Paper (50% of final grade).  12-15 pages.  In consultation with the instructor, students should select a term paper topic.  It should be related to the themes covered in the course.