All students will write a 1,000-1,500 word final paper analyzing a memoir of the
All students will write a 1,000-1,500 word final paper analyzing a memoir of their choice. In the paper, students will be expected to demonstrate their ability to identify and discuss themes from the class and make a clear and substantiated argument about how a particular memoirist addresses Jewish life in the modern era. All papers are due on Friday, December 10. Papers should be typed and submitted in OAKS. A bibliography of suggested memoirs is attached, and a sign-up sheet to get approval for your memoir can be found by clicking HERE! In this paper, explore how the memoir/document you have selected illuminates some facet of modern Jewish life that you would like to reflect on more deeply. Consider how the author(s) address a certain issue/conflict/paradox in their experience as Jews in the modern world at a particular point in time. Develop a thesis that relates to a question or questions about modern Jewish life at one point in time or another. Use the remaining few pages to develop and support your thesis throughout the remainder of your paper. Things to keep in mind: Include an introduction and conclusion. Your first paragraph should include a strong thesis. The remainder of your paper should be devoted to supporting and developing your thesis. Please avoid wasting valuable space for your argument on summation. Be cognizant of historical context. Four pages is a very short paper. Don’t try to cover the entire memoir in this space. Explore and really develop just a couple of main issues. For the memoir specifically: This paper is not a summary of the memoir. On the contrary, the objective of this paper is for you to show that you are able to take the knowledge about modern Jewish history that you acquired this semester and use it to write intelligently about a memoir by a Jew living in the modern world. You can think of this paper as a dialogue between our class (reading and lectures) and your memoir. Presumably your memoirist is telling a story about what it is like to be a Jew in the modern world. Your memoirist will inevitably illuminate some of the themes from the class on a really personal level. At the same time, you can use the knowledge you acquired from our class to help interpret what exactly your memoirist is saying about the modern Jewish experience. Either way, the materials from the class and your memoirist should interact with one another. There is no need to try and squash an entire semester’s worth of materials into this paper. For example, if you are writing about Mary Antin’s The Promised Land, then talking about the colonial origins of American Jewry, mercantilist theory, or Hasidism would not be appropriate. It is appropriate, however, to talk about how Antin experienced the dislocation from her former life in Eastern Europe, her acculturation to life in the United States, and ultimately what the United States represented to a young Jewish immigrant woman. For example, think about an incident/issue discussed in your memoir. Devote no more than a couple of sentences to recounting the story and your individual’s role in it. What is the argument this individual makes about an incident? How was it dealt with? What was at stake? What motivated the key actors to act the way they did? What can this tell us about modern Jewish history more generally? Keep in mind that memoirs are a historical document themselves, a product of the time and place in which they were written. I encourage you to think critically about the narrative your author presents and be cognizant of alternative ways of interpreting history. Your goal is to complicate the story your memoirist tells. Then think about how this tells us something about the history of Jews in the modern world.

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