HIST 434
The Meaning of Diaspora and the Jews of Europe Spring 2020
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed HIST 434 / REL 335 / JWST 434

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Dispersion, exile, migration, statelessness are all aspects of diaspora. In the study of diasporic peoples and cultures, the Jews have long figured as the archetype. As a result, Jewish political figures, intellectuals, social activists and scholars have played a central role in discussions of the meaning of diaspora, including debates about its political and social implications, economic value, and cultural significance. In the first half of the semester, in discussions of common readings, we will examine various historical interpretations of Jews┬┐ diasporic existence from the nineteenth century to the present and its implications for humanitarianism. Beginning in the first half of the semester and with greater intensity in the second half of the semester, you will conduct independent archival research on some aspect of the history of the Jewish diaspora using the digitized archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that will culminate in a twenty-plus-page paper. In the second half, the seminar will continue to meet weekly as a research colloquium, to provide a forum for you to present your research and drafts in progress and to give feedback on fellow students┬┐ work. In this seminar, we are not merely studying history; you are actually doing history. That is to say, you will be more than students of history in this course: you will become historians in your own right. Over the semester, you will learn how to pose historical questions; to engage critically with readings beyond summarizing them; to synthesize an enormous amount of source material; and to learn how to write more clearly. By the end of the semester, the goal is for each student to produce a polished research paper based on substantial engagement with archival sources and relevant secondary literature that will serve as a capstone to your coursework at Williams or as a potential jumping-off point for future research projects, including a senior thesis in History or Jewish Studies.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 10
Class#: 3288
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on class participation, several short papers, oral presentations, and a 20-page research paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History majors and Jewish Studies concentrators
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 434 Division II REL 335 Division II JWST 434 Division II
WS Notes: Students will write two drafts of their research paper before submitting the final paper for a grade. They will receive timely comments on drafts from professor and peers, to be incorporated into their final paper.
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
JWST Capstone Course
JWST Core Electives

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