Eötvös Loránd University

2012/13 Academic year, Spring

Anti-Semitism: a historical, social psychological and sociological approach

Instructor: György Csepeli (csepeli.gyorgy@gmail.com)

Aim of the course

Anti-Semitism is one of the most intriguing problems in human society. The basic aim of this course is to provide students with insights into this complex web of issues by analysis of the psychological, sociological, economic, political and last but not least historical facets separately. Special emphasize will be given to the social history of Central Europe which is the geographical place from where the unprecedented events of the Holocaust were originated. Fiction and documentary films as sources will be demonstrated.


There will be a mid-term and final exam. Students are expected to attend the lectures and participate in the discussions. A double spaced term paper, not exceeding 15 pages but not less than 10 pages, will have to be submitted at the end of the semester. The title and the outline of the paper will have to be submitted for approval before the student embarks on research and writing.


Students should consult with websites found as a result of Google search (wikipedia, anti-semitism research resources, reports on global anti-Semitism, etc.).

The Texts Used for This Course Are:

Goldstein, P. 2012. A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism. Facing History and Ourselves.

The above-listed test is available in paperback. It is strongly recommended that students equip themselves with own copies. Copies are available in the bookstore or Amazon.com. at a discount.

The texts of the assigned readings are available in electronic form.

Topics and Reading Assignments:

February 13

Introduction: The Longest Hatred

The interdisciplinary matrix of understanding the symptoms of Anti-Semitism. History, sociology, political science, social psychology, literary criticism.

Reading: Arendt. H. 1968. Antisemitism. San Diego, New York, London.  A Harvest/HBJ Book.

Presentation: Archeology of Anti-Semitism

February 20


The nature of human groups. Basic processes of group formation. Relations between large groups. Clashing group realities. Majorities and minorities.

Reading: Wistrich, R.S. 1994.Antisemitism. The Longest Hatred. New York: Shocken Books. 3-13

Presentation: Ethnocentrism

February 27

Competing Narratives of Jewish Historiography

The Portable God: The Jewish innovations (divine invisibility, written creed, sin).

Reading: Dimont, M.I. 1962. Jews, God and History. New York: Signet Book. 13-73

Presentation: Competing Narratives of Jewish Historiography

March 6

Pagan Responses to Jewish Presence

Decline of Greek antiquity and the rise of the Roman Empire. Ethnocentric misunderstanding. List of accusations against Jews. Apion and Tacitus.

Reading: Gruen, E.S. 2002. Diaspora. Jews amidst Greeks and Romans. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 15-83.


The Jews in Alexandria

The Jews is Rome

March 13

Christian anti-Judaism

Novelty of anti-Jewish perception: the metaphysical dimension. Psychological techniques of widening the divide between Jews and Christians. The role of medieval social structure in the formation of religious anti-Jewish prejudice.


Nicholls, W. 1998. Christian Antisemitism. Northavale. London. Pp.189-260.

Presentation: Christian anti-Judaism

March 20

Emergence of Modern Political Anti-Semitism

Transition from feudalism to capitalism. Rationalization, secularization and individualization. Resistance to social entropy. Modernization niches and Jewish skills. Emancipation and ressentiment.

Recommended: Ewige Jude (Youtube)

Reading: Elon, A. 2002. The Pity of It All. A History of Jews in Germany 1743-1933. New York: Metropolitan Books. 185-295.

Presentation: Emergence of Modern Political Anti-Semitism

April 3

Midterm test

April 10

The Stock of Knowledge of Modern Anti-Semitism

History of the term “Anti-Semitism.Ideology and Weltanschauung. Nation state by default on German soil. Racism. The “Jewish question”. Perverse utopia.

Reading: Sokel, W.H. “Dualistic Thinking and the Rise of Ontological Antisemitism in Nineteenth-Centrury Germany. From Schiller’s Franz Moor to Wilhelm Raabe’s Moses Freudenstein.” Ed. Gilman, S.L., Katz, S.T. 1991. Anti-Semitism in Crisis. New York: New York University Press. 154-172.

April 10

Resurfacing of the past: Modern Blood Libel

From the mid-fifteenth century to the early seventeenth century Jews were persecuted and tried for the alleged murders of Christian boys and girls. The idea of child sacrifice and blood symbolism played resurfaced in the ritual murder trial against the Jews in Hungary in 1882.

Film: Judit Elek’s Rafters

Reading: Pro-Chia Hsia, R. 1988. The Myth of the Ritual Murder. Jews and Magic in Reformation Germany. New Haven, London: Yale University Press pp. 1—13

Presentation: Resurfacing of the past: Modern Blood Libel

April 17

The culture of paradox

The position of the stranger. The Jewish intellectual in Eastern and Central Europe. Traps of assimilation. Conflicting intergroup experiences.

Reading: Gilman, S. 1986. Jewish Self-Hatred. Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews. Baltimore, London: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 139-208.

Presentation: The Culture of Paradox

April 24

Structure and Content of the Anti-Semitic Mind.

Adolf Eichmann’s presentation about the “Judenfrage” in Berlin, in 1937.

Reading: Cesarani, D. 2006. Becoming Eichmann. Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a “Desk Murderer.” Da Capo Press. pp. 61-90; Adorno, T.W. “Types and Syndroms,” in Adorno, T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J., Sanford, N.R. 1950. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: W.W. Norton. Pp. 446-385.

Presentation: Eichmann's lecture

May 8

The road to Holocaust

The trauma of modernity. Categorization, classification, exclusion, depersonalization, ghettos, transportation, selection, annihilation. The cast: Perpetrators, victims, spectators, Rescuers. Escape. Script analysis based on the database of DEGOB set in 1946 among survivors.

Reading: Roth, J.K. Berenbaum, M. (eds.)1989. Holocaust. Religious and Philosophical Implications. New York: Paragon House. pp. 99-258.

Presentation: The road to Holocaust

Presentation: The cast

Presentation: Eichmann


Coping with the Past.

Repression and recreation of memory. The problem of naming. Anti-Semitism without Jews. Israel and the new anti-Semitism.

Reading: Wistrich, R.S. 1994.Antisemitism. The Longest Hatred. New York: Shocken Books. Pp. 195-268

Presentation: Aftermath of the Holocaust