Jews in the Habsburg Lands

Winter 2022


InstructorMichael L. Miller

Central European University

MA course

2 Credits (4 ECTS Credits)


Course Description

This course explores the history of Europe’s second largest Jewish community in the modern era, with a focus on the major political, social and cultural trends that shaped Habsburg Jewry from the Josephinian reforms of the late eighteenth century until the dissolution of Austria-Hungary after World War I.  The Habsburg Empire encompassed highly diverse lands and populations, and the common political framework allows for an in-depth comparison of Jewish communities in Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, Galicia, Lower Austria and the other territories ruled by the House of Habsburg.  The course will address the enlightened absolutism of Joseph II; the emerging national movements and their impact on Jewish identity; the major religious conflicts and schisms; Jewish cultural creativity in Vienna, Budapest and Prague; and the impact of antisemitism on Jewish political and cultural choices.      


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:


ü  Critically discuss historiographical literature on Habsburg Jewry

ü  Perform nuanced readings of legal, religious and literary texts 

ü  Engage in comparative historical analysis

ü  Relate theories of nationalism to the Jews of the Habsburg lands



Course Requirements

(1)  Regular attendance and participation (20%).   Students are expected to attend all classes and participate actively.  For missed classes, students will be expected to submit a written reaction to the assigned readings.  Field trips are mandatory.


(2) In-Class Presentation (20% of the final grade).  In this 10-15-minute presentation, the student is expected to discuss the required readings and familiarize him/herself with some of the recommended readings.  S/he should raise questions that will help stimulate classroom discussion.


(3) Term Paper (60% of final grade).  12-15 pages.  In consultation with the instructor, students should select a term paper topic.  It should be related to the themes covered in the course.  Due Date: Friday, April 8, 2022