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Course Information

Instructor Info:Zachary Schulman
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Yiddish Book Center YBC
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Yiddish Book Center YBC
Description: In this course we will examine the history and culture of the Jews of the Soviet Union, once one of the largest and most diverse Jewish communities in the world. Beginning with the Bolshevik Revolution, we will explore the dramatic transformations of daily life in the world's first socialist state, and investigate the changing contours of Jewish identity in the region through the eras of Stalinism, Stagnation, perestroika and up to the present day. How is Jewishness defined in a state where the practice of Judaism is officially discouraged? How do historians understand a society under surveillance, where the reliability of the documents left behind is always in question? To better understand these paradoxes, we will consider the following themes in particular: the place of Jews as a minority in Soviet society; anti-Semitism; the interplay of ideology and everyday life; Russian and Yiddish culture; the survival of religion in an officially atheist state; migration; memory, nostalgia, and the longing for home. Special emphasis will be placed on innovative primary source analysis, as students engage with a variety of rich and sometimes unusual research materials including: fiction, film, memoirs, secret diaries, propaganda, oral histories, music, digital exhibits, and other texts. All readings in English.