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JWM5030 - Jewish History and Jewish Memory: Writing and Reading the Jewish Past

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Paul Forgasz


Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)


This unit surveys various ways in which Jews throughout the ages have elucidated the meaning of their historical experience and traces the major themes and preoccupations of writers of Jewish history from biblical times to the present. A number of topics that are central to Jewish historiography will be explored including: causality in Jewish history; divine providence and intervention; teleology and messianic perspectives; problems of rendering judgement on the past; periodisation. Consideration will also be given to the varying emphases given to religion, nationality and culture by historians seeking to explain what has made the Jews a single people and their history a continuous one.


On completion of this unit students will be expected to:

  1. have an understanding of the different approaches and practices present within the Jewish tradition to recording and preserving the Jewish past;
  2. have an understanding of the relationship between Jewish history and collective memory and of the place of the Jewish historian within that relationship;
  3. recognise the continuities and discontinuities between classical, medieval and modern approaches to writing and reading the Jewish past
  4. have demonstrated a familiarity with the different genres and modes of Jewish historical writing;
  5. have read and analysed selected texts from the Jewish historiographical tradition;
  6. have applied the reading and interpretative skills they have learned to unseen texts Students successfully completing JWM5030 will be expected to demonstrate, in addition:
  7. advanced skills in analysing primary sources and in developing an independent position regarding the meaning and significance of these sources


Research essay (5000) : 50%
Seminar paper (1000) : 15%
Textual exercise (2000) : 25%
Preparation and participation : 10%
Level 5 students will be required to write a Research essay of 6000 words

Contact hours

1x2.5 hours lecture/seminar/ week for 12 weeks. One week during the semester will be devoted to student consultation regarding research essays. Private study (21.5 hours) will be devoted reading seminar materials, preparing and completing the research essays, and wider reading.


JWC4030, JWM4030