Jews of Europe Final Exam (Paper) questions
This is what your course syllabus says about the exam:
You will have a Final Exam paper instead on an in-class exam. In Week 13 of the semester, I will give you a set of questions for your final paper. These will require that you think about the relationship between Samuel D. Kassow’s book Who Will Write Our History?: Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto (Bloomington, 2007) and other books that we have read this semester. You will pick one of these questions and write an essay that answers the question in 10-15 pages, not counting endnote citations.
I will base your grade primarily on your essay's accuracy, clarity, logic, and use of evidence. But I will also take into consideration such "technical" matters as grammar and use of proper citation form.
The term paper is due at our scheduled final exam time.
Here are two questions. Answer ONE of these in a 10-15 page essay (see above).
1) We began this course with the question "what is a Jew." If you recall, during our first class session we briefly discussed ways that different groups have defined "Jewishness" (as distinct from Judaism) during different time periods--for example, definitions based on religion, on race, on national identity, and on cultural identity.
Using Kassow's book, explain the alternate visions of what it meant to be a Jew--of what factors united Jews as a community and what factors were most essential to the nature of that community--as enunciated by Emanuel Ringelblum and other Polish-Jewish political and social activists between 1914 and 1942. Be sure to consider the viewpoints of people from different political and social movements.
Then, explain how those various conceptions of "Jewishness" related to concepts of Jewishness that we encountered in our other readings. When doing this, be sure that you attend to specifics! Present and explain specific examples and "ground" those examples in specific times and places. (For example, in the 1820s Mr. X, a Jewish activist in Paris, argued that....")
Finally, how do various historians we have read this semester (the authors of the books and chapters we have read together) seem to understand the definition of "Jewishness"?
2) Emanuel Ringelblum was a historian as well as a social activist, and Kassow devotes a good deal of attention both to Ringelblum's development as a historian and to the relationship between Ringelblum's viewsof Jewish history and those of other prominent Jewish historians of his era.
Using Kassow's book, explain Ringelbaum's view of Jewish history--and especially his view of the "big picture" (the "meta-narrative") of Jewish history--and compare that to the views of other Jewish historians in the late 1800s and 1900s (to the 1940s) as discussed by Kassow.
Then, relate these competing views of Jewish history to various other views of Jewish history that we encountered in our other readings (focus here on the people who were subjects of our other readings, not on the authors of those readings). When doing this, be sure that you attend to specifics! Present and explain specific examples and "ground" those examples in specific times and places. (For example, in the 1820s Mr. X, a Jewish activist in Paris, argued that....")
Finally, how do various historians we have read this semester (the authors of the books and chapters we have read together) understand the "big picture" of Jewish history?