Sociology of American Jewish Community
Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman
Brandeis University
Fall 2008

     This course explores transformations in modern American Jewish societies, first surveying Jewish social groups in historical Jewish communities and then focusing on American Jews in the second half of the 20th century. The course uses an interdisciplinary approach, analyzing material culture, literature, and film as well as sociological and social-historical texts. It is the goal of this course that students learn about the field of the social scientific study of American Jewish societies as a discipline, as well as about the societies themselves. All students are expected to do each of the required readings by the date indicated, and to be ready to participate in class discussions. A written mid-term examination, a final examination, and a major research paper (15-20 pages) will be required.

Required Texts for all Students:


Required Articles:

Graduate Students Additional Required Texts:

Schedule of Readings and Discussion Topics by Class Period

Sept. 3--Introduction
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Sept. 8 & 10—Antecedents
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Sept. 15—Immigration
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Sept. 17—Immigration—later waves
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Sept.22 & 24--Adaptation, Acculturation, and Change
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Oct. 6

Oct. 19
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Oct. 27 & 29--Marshall Sklare and the creation of the field of sociology
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Nov. 5 & 10--The varieties of American Jewish religious culture
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Nov. 12 & 17--American Jews and the world
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Nov. 19
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Nov. 24 & 26
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Dec. 1--Jewish organizations
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Dec. 3--What is American Jewish identity today?