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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

European Antisemitism from the Enlightenment to the Holocaust (3 cr)
Günther Jikeli
JSTU-J 304 Social & Historical Topics in Jewish Studies (32381) / HIST-B 315 (34557)
TR 9:25-10:40 am
CASE S&H; credit given to only one of J304 or HIST-B 315 with this topic

The History of Antisemitism before the Holocaust -- Irrational and often lethal hostility to Jews has a history of over 2000 years. Jew-hatred made its first appearance in the ancient world, later intensifying in waves in Christian Europe and, to a lesser extent, in Islamic countries. A range of antisemitic myths became deeply embedded in Western culture. Racial and genocidal antisemitism rose with 19th century nationalism and culminated in the attempt by Nazi Germany to destroy every member of the Jewish “race.”

What are the historical roots of antisemitism? What social, cultural, and political factors advanced or contained antisemitism? We will examine the most significant antisemitic myths and events in their historical and social contexts until 1933, including the image of Jews as murderers of God, usurers, and conspirators, as well as the blood libel. Students will complete the course with an increased grasp of the irrational motives involved in antisemitism. They will also come to see how antisemitism is similar to and different from other prejudices, as well as understand the multiple sources from which antisemitism derives.

The course will emphasize class discussion and include a high proportion of independent work. The goal is to deepen an understanding of antisemitism in its many facets, including some of its contemporary manifestations. Course activities include: (1) Doing the assigned readings before each class session; (2) participating in class discussions; (3) submitting short writing assignments; and (4) writing a longer paper and offering a class presentation. Students are encouraged to attend two public lectures on themes related to the subject matter of this course by visiting scholars. Extra credit will be given to students who attend these public lectures and thereafter submit brief papers in response to these presentations.