PSCI 375
Modern Jewish Political Theory Spring 2023
Division II
Cross-listed REL 330 / JWST 492
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Class Details

By the late 19th century, Jews across Europe were faced with an urgent political problem. Amidst bourgeoning national self-consciousness throughout the continent, despite the liberatory promises of the Enlightenment, Jews remained a vulnerable, segregated, and stigmatized minority population. Jews had to decide where to pin their hopes. Should they ally themselves with the liberals or the communists? Should they embrace nationalism or cosmopolitanism? Should they, perhaps, abandon Europe altogether and re-constitute themselves elsewhere? If so, should they focus their efforts on relocation to the historical land of Israel? Or could they go anywhere? Wherever they might go, should they aspire to build a modern Jewish nation-state, a semi-autonomous Jewish community, or some other arrangement? Should this coincide with the cultivation of a distinctively Jewish modern language? If so, should it be Hebrew or Yiddish? In this course we will assess various answers to these questions proffered by Jewish political thinkers in the modern period. We will pay particular attention to the construction of “Jews” and “Judaism” in these arguments. And we will ask persistently: what constitutes a “Jewish justification” for a political claim in modern Jewish political theory? Coverage will include: Jewish liberalism, political Zionism, Yiddishist autonomism, messianic quietism, and other views. We will read mostly primary sources, including texts by: Hermann Cohen, Theodore Herzl, Chaim Zhitlowsky, Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, and many others.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 18
Class#: 3371
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: six short (1-2 pages) response papers; two 6- to 8-page papers, each analyzing a different view in depth; a final 18- to 20-page paper that incorporates the two previously submitted 6-8 page papers, but also compares the two views and adjudicates between them
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Religion majors, Jewish Studies concentrators, and Political Science students on the "Theory" track
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 330 Division II JWST 492 Division II PSCI 375 Division II
Attributes: JWST Capstone Course
JWST Core Electives

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