Western Sephardi Diaspora

Saint Louis University
Department of Modern and Classical Languages
Fall 2002

SP A459-02/THA493-02
T, Th 12:45-2:00 p.m.  XH 218

This course is cross listed, Spanish and Theology, and satisfies the Cultural Diversity requirement.

Instructor: Dr. Julia R. Lieberman
Office:  RH 312  -  Office Hours:  M,W,F, 10:10-11:00 a.m. and by appointment
Phone #: 977-2457
e-mail: only through WebCT

Description and objectives of the course:
This course deals with the history of the Jews of Spain and Portugal, before and after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.  It will begin with an overview of the Iberian background of the Sephardim in the Middle Ages: from the events leading to the mass conversions of 1391 in Seville, to the expulsion from Christian Spain in 1492.  It will continue with the exiles in the lands of the Ottoman Empire, followed by the experience of those who remained in Peninsula, as conversos.   In the second part of the term, we will study the return of the former conversos to Judaism in their new settlements: Venice, Livorno, London, Bordeaux and Amsterdam.  Special emphasis will be placed on the social and intellectual world of the newly established Sephardi communities.

Some of the topics to be discussed will be:
* Jewish and Converso society in Spain and Portugal
* The Religion of the Conversos and the Conversos encounter with rabbinic Judaism
* Converso responses to normative Judaism: rejection of rabbinic Judaism (Uriel da Costa and Spinoza), apology of Judaism (Isaac Cardoso and Orobio de Castro)
* Sephardic contributions to Western Europe: Biblical Studies, Mercantilism
* The rise of secularism and modernity and the Western Sephardim
* Spinoza and the modern secular Jew

Course requirements:
2 exams: midterm and final:   30%
Book Review: ……………:   10%
Oral Presentation to Class:     10%
2 essays ………………….:    40%
Attendance and Participation: 10%

A course pack is available at:  One Stop Mailing & Copy Store
3524 Laclede Ave.
Students also need to purchase the novel: The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, by R. Zimler

Sephardi Diaspora  -  Dr. Lieberman
Calendar of classes – Fall 2002

Week 1: August 27, 29
Introduction to the course
Topic:  The Jews Of Spain in the Middle Ages
Reading:  C. Raphael, “The Sephardim of Spain,” in The Sephardi Story, pp. 67-82; 93-106.

Week 2: September 3, 5,
Topic:  Spanish Conversos: 1391 and 1492; Purity of Blood and Inquisition
A. Castro, The Structure of Spanish History, Chapt.13, “The Spanish Jews,” pp. 466-521.
Text of the Expulsion Decree, in J.S. Gerber, The Jews of Spain, pp. 285-289.

Week 3: September 10,12
Topic:  Exile.  The Sephardim in the Ottoman Empire
Reading: Joseph Hacker, “The Sephardim in the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth Century”
Video:     “Song of the Sephardi”

Week 4: September 17,19
Topic: Responses to the Expulsion and Forced Conversions
Source: S. Usque, Consolation for the Tribulations of Israel, pp. 12-17 and selections from third dialogue, pp. 198-215.
Reading: Abraham David, “The Spanish Expulsion and the Portuguese Persecution Through the Eyes of the Historian R. Gedalya Ibn Yahia,” in Sefarad (1996):45-59.

Week 5: September 24,26
Topic:  Spanish conversos.  The Religion of the Conversos
Gitlitz, Secrecy and Deceit, Chap. 1, pp. 3-27, “Conversion and Conversos through 1492.”  Chap. II, pp. 35-48, “Conversos after 1492”.   “The Religion of the Conversos,” Chap. IV, pp. 73-124.
R.L. Melammed, “Women in (Post-1492) Spanish Crypto-Jewish Society.”  In Judaism, Spring 1992, pp. 156-168.

Week 6: October 1, 3  Essay 1
Topic: Portuguese Conversos After 1497
Reading:  The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, by Richard Zimler

Week 7: October 8, 10
Topic: Portuguese Conversos After 1497 (cont.)
Reading: The Last Kabbalist

Week 8: October 15,17
Mid-term exam: Th. 17

Week 9: October 22,24 (T, 22, Fall Break; Th, 24, Class)
Topic: The return of the conversos to Judaism.  Italy
Readings:  Ravid, “An Introduction to the Economic History of the Iberian Diaspora in the Mediterranean”, in Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Mediterranean World After 1692, ed. A.M.Ginio, pp. 268-285.
J. Lieberman, “Between Tradition and Modernity: The Sephardim of Livorno”, in The Most Ancient of Minorities.  The Jews of Italy, ed. E.G. Pugliese, pp. 67-76.

Week 10: October 29, 31  Book Review
Topic:   Amsterdam, The New Jerusalem of the North
Readings: Y. Kaplan, “The Intellectual Ferment in the Spanish-Portuguese Community of 17th century Amsterdam,” in The Sephardi Legacy, pp. 288-314
S. Bayme,  “The Marrano Phenomenon,” in Understanding Jewish History, pp. 212-222
Source: Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise, in Harbingers of Cultural and Ideological Change, pp. 54-60
D’Acosta, “Thesis Against the [Jewish] Tradition”

Week 11:  November 5,7
Topic:  The New Christians in France: Bordeaux
Reading: G. Nahon, “From New Christians to the Portuguese Jewish Nation in France.” In The Sephardi Legacy, pp. 336-359.

Week 12: November 12,14
Topic:  England
Source:  Menasseh ben Israel, “How Profitable the Nation of the Jews are (1655),” in The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 8-13 (read also the Introd., “Harbingers of…Change”

Week 13: November 19,21
Oral Presentations

Week 14: November 26,28 (Th. 28, Thanksgiving break)  Essay 2
Oral Presentations (cont.)

Week 15: December 3,5 (Th. Dec. 5, last day of classes)

Week 16: FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 12:00-1:50 p.m.