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How to Write Jewish History?

Mon, December 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Beacon Hill 1 Complex

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the AJS, this roundtable will discuss the diverse geographical, cultural, and ideological factors that go into the writing of Jewish history. Echoing Paul Veyne’s famous essay from 1971, Comment on écrit l'histoire, the roundtable brings together three scholars of Jewish history who have practiced their craft from different geo-cultural sites: Israel, Europe, and North America. They will discuss their distinct approaches to writing Jewish history, including in recent synthetic volumes. Among the questions to be addressed are:

• Do the different approaches taken by the participants mean that there is no single Jewish historiography?
• What is exceptional and unexceptional about the writing of Jewish history?
• Toward what audience(s) do you aim your work?
• Do you regard your work as continuous with past historiographical trends, or as marking out a new and innovative path?
• What new trends and currents do you see in the field of Jewish history?
• How do you see the future of the field developing?

Panelists include Shmuel Feiner from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, a scholar of secularization and modernization in Jewish history, who has recently authored a volume devoted to the modern era of Jewish history, `Et hadashah; Sylvie Anne Goldberg from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, who has written on the theme of time in Jewish thought, and is preparing for publication an edited volume “How is Jewish History Written;” and David N. Myers of UCLA and the Center for Jewish History, who has published numerous books on Jewish history, including the recent Jewish History: A Short Introduction and The Stakes of History. The moderator will be Lois Dubin of Smith College, who has wide-ranging interests across periods and locales in Jewish history.

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