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Jewish Historiography: Israel's New or Post-Zionist Historians and Artists


Admission requirements

Introduction to Judaism and Cultural History of the Jews.


In the 1980s dossiers of the Israeli military forces were made public. This disclosure led to a demythification and radical reinterpretation of Zionist history, the practitioners of which are denoted by the term New Historians or sometimes Post-Zionist or even anti-Zionist historians. By the 1990s a visible and vocal number of Israeli artists expressed their disenchantment with the political situation in provocative ways. In this course the older and newer forms of Zionist history writing and its artistic counterparts will be reviewed.

Course objectives

As in any course on historiography, the students will learn that there are many possible ways to interpret history, including that of Zionism. Furthermore, these interpretations are rarely neutral but rather politically or otherwise motivated. Moreover, the student will learn to interpret works of art by situating them in their historical context.
Because the Sjo’a features so prominently in both Zionist and post-Zionist history and art, the student will become acquainted with theories on forgiveness (e.g. Derrida) and artistic representation (e.g. Adorno) in the post-Holocaust era.rators. They will then apply these theories to the works under discussion.


See time table

Mode of instruction

Lectures, presentation of art works, excursions if relevant.

Assessment method

Each students will present the work of one historian or artist during one of the classes. A final paper on one or more of the historians/artists introduced during classes or in the litertature will be submitted.


Weekly schedule, topics and readings will be made available on blackboard.

Reading list

Capita selecta from:
Michael Brenner, Prophets of the Past. Interpreters of Jewish History, Princeton University Press 2010
Andreas Gotzmann and Christian Wiese (eds), Modern Judaism and Historical Consciousness. Identities, Encounters, Perspectives, Brill 2007
Steven Kepnes (ed), Interpreting Judaism in a Postmodern Age, New York University Press 1996
Norman Kleeblatt (ed), Mirroring Evil. Nazi Imagery/Recent Art, The Jewish Museum of Newy York & Rutgers University Press 2002
Stephane Bauer (Ed), WonderYears: New Reflections on the Shoah and Nazism in Israeli Society, NGBK Berlin 2003
Susan Tumarkin Goodman et al. (eds), Dateline Israel: New Photography and Video Art, The Jewish Museum of New York 2007
Various (chapters from) works by Zionist and so-called post-Zionist historians


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof.dr. Judith Frishman, course coordinator, may be consulted by email: Prof.dr. J.Frishman


This course will be of interest to students of Hebrew and Jewish studies, history, art history, political science and philosophy.