Universität Wien FIND

060004 SE Persecution and Jewish Identity (2022S)

Seminar with Bachelor's paper

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Wednesday 09.03. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 16.03. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 23.03. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 30.03. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 06.04. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 27.04. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 04.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 11.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 18.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 25.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 01.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 08.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 15.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 22.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital
Wednesday 29.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

The topic of Jewish identity has many aspects. This class does not want to ask how Jews understand their Jewish identity. Rather, it deals with the question of how Jewish identities are constructed for different reasons by those who persecute Jews. For this purpose, particular reference is made to the concept of the "hermeneutical Jew" developed by Jeremy Cohen. Cohen observed for the Middle Ages that the perception of Judaism among non-Jews was shaped by religious traditions that often had little to do with the realities of Jewish life. The Jewish group identity constructed in light of these traditions, especially by antisemites, was what Cohen called a "hermeneutical Jew." In the discourse Cohen triggered, the concept of the "hermeneutical Jew" is readily restricted to Christian texts. However, the mechanism observed by Cohen, that Jewish identities are constructed in the light of inherited traditions and are not based on Jewish life, is also found outside Christianity and is not limited to the Middle Ages. It is and was, for example, equally prevalent in the world of Islam as well as among the Nazis.

Your bachelor's thesis should trace and describe the construction of a "hermeneutical Judaism" using an example of your choice. You may choose this example from any period and culture from antiquity to the present. The first sessions of this class will help you to identify topics for your BA thesis. Afterwards Students will present the results of their work several times during the term before writing their BA thesis.

Assessment and permitted materials

Regular and active participation, several presentations out of your work in class, BA thesis

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Regular and active participation, several presentations out of your work, BA thesis. In total, your individual achievements to add up to least 50% of the points to achieve a passing grade.

Grading scale:
87 - 100 % 1
75 - 86,99 % 2
63 - 74,99 % 3
50 - 62,99 % 4
0 - 49,99 % 5

Examination topics

You have to demonstrate your ability to analyze antisemitic constructions of Jewish identity based on one example.

Reading list

Jeremy Cohen, Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity (Berkely: University of California Press, 1999), especially pages 1-17.
David Nierenberg, Antijudaisms: The Western Tradition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013).

Association in the course directory

Last modified: We 22.03.2023 14:08