I teach a broad array of courses in Jewish history, including the two-quarter History of the Jews survey, History of the Holocaust, Sex and Gender in Jewish History, Polish-Jewish Encounters, and Jewish Nationalisms. You can see my current course offerings in Western’s catalogue here.
Wilson Library at Western recently featured a display of my students’ work from the course The Holocaust and Local History. Students designed site-specific Holocaust memorials that took into account local particularities as well as the broader history of Nazi Genocide. [photos coming soon]
Courses taught (syllabi available on request):
History of the Jews
This course surveys Jewish history and culture from biblical times to the post-World-War II period. Traversing Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Modernity, we will examine the ways in which Jewish life developed internally, and the ways in which Jews interacted with and experienced other religious and intellectual systems (Christianity, Islam, the Reformation, the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Socialism, and Nationalism) across the empires and modern states in which they lived.
Throughout the course, we will ask questions around three broad (and overlapping) themes:
1) Judaism, Jewishness, and Jewish Culture
2) Jews and Governmental Authority
3) Jewish Belonging
Throughout the study of Jewish history in particular, students will be encouraged to think critically about more general questions related to religion, identity, membership, and authority.
The collapse of Communism and new revelations about Polish-Jewish relations during World War Two have sparked Jewish cultural revival in Poland, and attendant questions and revaluations of these encounters. In recent years, there has been a flood of new work on the encounters between Polish Catholics and Jews in the past 100 years. This course explores the various ways in which Polish Catholics and Jews related to each other in the realms of politics, arts and culture, and everyday relations. Rather than treating each group separately, this course presents an interactional history.
This course has two aims: to survey the social, economic, political, religious and cultural history of Polish Jewry, and to examine the history of interactions between Polish Catholics and Jews, from the thirteenth century to the post-World War II period.
We will discuss political movements, economic and political relationships, the partitions of Poland and their effects on Jewish life, the development of Jewish popular culture in Poland as well as Jewish politics, the effects of World War I on Jews in Poland, the interwar years, and the Second World War and the Holocaust. Our course will also spend significant time discussing the post-Holocaust era, including the rise of interest in Jewish topics within Poland today.
The Holocaust and Local History
This course focuses on Jewish experiences under Nazi occupation. We will look at the ways that the experience of what we have come to term “The Holocaust” differed from place to place.
We will consider local experiences by looking at factors such as Nazi directives, geography, and histories of intercommunal relations, in addition to other factors. Strong emphasis will be placed on local memory and commemoration of the holocaust. We will look at a number of different types of primary sources, including material culture sources, alongside our secondary texts.
History of the Holocaust
This course considers the broad outlines of what we have come to term “The Holocaust,” focusing on Jewish experiences in Nazi Germany and under Nazi German occupation.
We will consider the Nazi rise to power, aspects of Jewish daily life, and responses among Jews, non-Jews, and foreign powers to Nazi Germany. We will look at a number of different types of primary sources, including material culture sources, alongside our secondary texts.
Women and Gender in Jewish History
How have Jews throughout history thought about gender, and particularly about women? How can we use a gender lens to learn more about major events and themes in Jewish history? How has Jewish practice and life changed in response to women’s movements? (And men’s movements?) How have the different Jewish denominations considered women and gender?This class considers all these questions and more, with a focus on Europe and North America.
Beyond Tevye: Eastern Europe’s Jews on Film
Media representations matter. This course explores the ways in which
East European Jews represented themselves, and were represented, on
the big screen. We will examine films from Poland and the United
States as we think through the history and the memory of Jewish life
in Eastern Europe. Our course will focus on images of the shtetl and
on images of postwar “returns” to Eastern Europe.