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    Vassar College
  Sep 22, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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JWST 383 - Jews and Modern Media

Semester Offered: Spring
.50 unit(s)

This course is devoted to the rise of modern media from the perspective of the considerable scholarly attention the subject has received in the field of Jewish Studies.  Whether helping to shape it, being accused of controlling it, self-censoring or banning its consumption on grounds of its perverse effects on the soul, or celebrating it as a tool of democratization, Jews have had an intimate and sometimes painful relationship to new forms of communication in the modern world.

“Jews and Modern Media” explores specific mediums of mass communication as technological innovations and how they were used to affect Jewish life in ever-evolving cultural, political, religious, and economic conditions.  Each class has been designed to explore a medium of mass communication at the time of its birth, early development, and initial experimental phase in a crowded marketplace of older forms of communication. Within each class unit, we will address how and why Jews became engaged in a particular mode of communication and how segments of the Jewish population found specific aspects of a medium vital to their needs and others saw them as dangerous to their very survival. We will identify and discuss how various media created, adopted, or altered Jewish stereotypes, and how those stereotypes changed when they spilled over into other media. At the root of the course, we will explore the following question: How has the nature of Jewish communities, political alignments, spiritual life, and religious practices changed because of the engagement with modern forms of communication? Maya Balakirsky.

One 2-hour period.

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