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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Judah Cohen
JSTU-J 359 (30688) / FOLK-F 359 (31582)
TR 9:30-10:45 (LH 030)
CASE S&H; IW; credit given for only one of J359 or FOLK-F 359; CASE DUS

When people describe what they believe, do, create, or experience as "Jewish," what do they mean? Using multiple perspectives and multiple forms of media, we will explore how different communities--from orthodox Jews to evangelical Christians--incorporate senses of Judaism into their cultural, religious, racial, ethnic, and artistic identities. Credit given for only one of J359 or FOLK-F 359.

This class will have four parts: In Part I, we will look at the question of identity from a theoretical perspective, both in a general sense and a Jewish sense. From there, we will look at how Jews define themselves in a communal sense. Part II will consist of explorations of several accepted (more or less) movements of Judaism, as well as a brief glimpse of the Jewish communal structures in New York City. In Part III, we shift perspective from communal to artistic expression: literary, visual, theatrical, musical, choreographic, and so forth. What does it mean to create "Jewish"-themed art, and how do its creators make it meaningful to the larger community? Part IV presents a set of difficult and potentially troubling case studies of communities that incorporate Judaism within starkly different environments. Though generally seen to be outside of mainstream Judaism (including by the communities themselves), their views of Jewish identity represent important perspectives constantly in dialogue with those who view themselves as central to Jewish life.