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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

The Jewish Body: Race, Science, Beauty & Ugliness (3 cr)
Mirjam Zadoff
HIST-J 300 Seminar in History #30615
M 4:00-6:30 BH 335

Why should we think that Jews are any different from others? Today Jews identify as an ethnicity, a religion or a culture – yet not as a distinct race. But during the 19th century scientists, physicians and politicians described Jews as a race, and the Jewish body as either deviant, ugly and sick – or as healthy, beautiful and noble. In any case Jews were perceived as different according to “racial science”. How did these images influence Jewish self-identity and the perception of Jews in the eyes of non-Jews – up until today? In this course we will deal with images and stereotypes of Jewish bodies in scientific discourse, popular culture, art, literature and propaganda, and the Jewish reaction to them.

Students are required to complete several short writing assignments, prepare a class presentation and write an individual paper throughout the semester.