Gershom Scholem: Mysticism and the Philosophy of History

Instructor: Yitzhak Lewis
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Friend to Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, and Leo Strauss, Gershom Scholem may be the best known scholar of Jewish Studies in the 20th century. Above all he is associated with launching the modern academic study of Jewish mysticism. However, Scholem’s study of mysticism was only part of his much broader, and far more engaged and systematic, thinking about questions of contemporary politics and the Jewish historical condition. An influential political thinker and social theorist, Scholem put forth a philosophy of history that gave theoretical structure to the nationalist Jewish project. His studies in mysticism certainly influenced his social and political thought, but it is equally evident that his engagement with the latter shaped his understanding of the mystic and his world.

This course will introduce students to Scholem and his broad intellectual project. We will focus on three central fields of Scholem’s inquiry that relate to, and are informed by, his study of mysticism: kabbalah, messianism, and history. Each receives a thorough theorization by Sholem, and together, they establish the central concepts around which the broad scope of his thought is organized. After introducing the biographical and intellectual-historical context of Scholem’s life and study, we will turn to his major works on these concepts and explore central questions regarding language, literature, and nationhood. Readings will include excerpts from books, lectures, articles, and interviews, as well as selections from Scholem’s correspondence with his close friend, Walter Benjamin.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
June 06 — June 27, 2024
4 weeks


Registration Open

SKU: JUN24-NY-SCHOLEM Categories: , Tag: