History of the Jews in Russia
The course focuses on an analysis of issues in the history of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union. Its main purpose is to systematically present the basic issues of political, economic and social development of the Jewish people in the context of the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. The course introduces students to different methodological approaches to the analysis of social and political phenomena, historiography and source studies in the history of the Jews, and the methodological peculiarities of the field.
Main Trends and Source Issues in Jewish Historiography
The course introduces students to the history of the development of Jewish historiography and the main trends in contemporary Jewish historiography in Russia, Europe and the US. The concepts of nineteenth- and twentieth-century historians (Heinrich Graetz, Ernest Renan, Abrahama Harkavy, Simon Dubnow, Yuri Gessen et al.) and today’s leading experts (John Klier, Benjamin Nathans et al.) are briefly outlined.
The Modernization of Judaism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
The course introduces students to the ideological and institutional changes that took place in the religious life of the Ashkenazi Jews in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as to different methods and approaches to the study of these changes. The focus of the course is the latest research on the Russian Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and the formation of orthodoxy. The course aims to train students to do research on the modern Jewish religion in its various relationships (genetic and constructed, declared and unconscious) with tradition and modernity.
Texts and Practices of Judaism from a Historical-Anthropological Perspective
The purpose of the course is to give students an idea of the key features of Jewish civilization and the mechanisms of its development, and to acquaint them with the highlights and current challenges of Jewish studies and the anthropology of religion. The course focuses on the connection among three aspects of Jewish culture: literature, politics and religion. The ability to navigate various areas of Jewish studies necessary for research in one of these areas and/or for comparative studies is the expected outcome of the course.
History of the Study of the Ethnography and Folklore of Eastern European Jews
The objective of the course is to familiarize students with the basic stages and figures in the history of research on the folk culture of Eastern European Jews, enabling them to interpret the various folkloric and ethnographic material from the standpoint of different collectors, to design their own research programs based on the experience of the work done by previous generations of researchers, and to promote the development of a critical approach to published work on Jewish ethnography and folklore.
Ethnography of the Jewish People: The View from Russia
The course focuses on the history of the study of the culture of various Jewish communities in Russia and the Soviet Union from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.
Yiddish: History of the Language
The course focuses the history of Yiddish’s emergence and development as a typical Jewish language and as ideal object of sociolinguistic research.
The Traditional Art of Eastern European Jews
The course surveys various forms and genres of the traditional art of Eastern European Jews, the place of the decorative element in religious practices, and the iconography and symbolism of traditional Ashkenazi art.
History of the Study of the Architectural and Artistic Legacy of Eastern European Jews
The course familiarizes students with the history of the formation and interpretation of the concepts of “Jewish art” and the “Jewish style” in the early twentieth century in connection with the study of works of synagogue architecture and handicraft Jewish ritual objects in Eastern Europe, and with problems of current research on landmarks of synagogue architecture in Central and Eastern Europe that have been incorporated in academic Jewish studies.
The Shtetl from the Perspective of Architectural Anthropology
The course focuses on an interdisciplinary analysis of the architectural heritage of Eastern European Jews: architectural landmarks, architectural and building traditions, and the relationship of Jewish communities with their own built environments. The course examines works on ethnography, vernacular architecture, architectural history and cultural studies in which attention is paid not only to the physical form and the spatial designs and planning of architectural sites, but also their social and symbolic use.