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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Gunther Jikeli’s
JSTU-J 304 Social & Historical Topics in Jewish Studies (12642) / INTL-I 305 Advanced Topics in Culture & Politics ( )
MW 1-2:15 (LH 035)

Online hate speech, including antisemitism, is a growing problem for communication on social media, such as Twitter.  This course covers geographical areas of Europe, the U.S., and posts in English from across the globe to ask what are prominent forms of antisemtism online?  Who are frequent disseminators and how are they linked internationally?  How does hate speech travel across the globe and what can be done about it?

Jews have been targeted directly and antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories proliferate on these platforms. The most prominent online hate groups are white supremacists, but there are also many other groups and individuals that spread hate against Jews. Some European countries have outlawed some forms of hate speech, while such measures find less support in the U.S. because of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

We will examine the most significant antisemitic myths in their historical and social contexts, including Holocaust denial, antisemitism expressed in anti-Zionism, and conspiracy theories. We will see how some older myths from the European Middle Ages, such as the image of Jews as murderers of God, usurers, and conspirators, as well as the blood libel are still relevant today and how they are reformulated and disseminated on social media.

We will also do our own original research on antisemitism in social media. Students will work alone or in teams to answer some aspects of the above research questions. We will use a large database of Tweets from an ongoing research project by IU’s Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism as well as other sources. A comparative approach that also looks at other online forms of prejudice and hatred is welcomed.