Prof. Currah's Core 3 Section

Questions on de Lange and Dinnerstein articles


Nicholas de Lange, "The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Ancient Evidence and Modern Interpretations" (CP)

Leonard Dinnerstein, "Antisemitism in Times of Crisis in the United States," (CP).


de Lange article:

Note: "Racialism," according to Kwame Anthony Appiah: "is the view...that there are heritable characteristics, possessed by members of our species, which allow us to divide them into a small set of races, in such a way that all the members of these races share certain traits and tendencies with each other that they do not share with members of any other race. These traits and tendencies characteristic of a race constitute, on the racialist view, a sort of racial essence; it is part of the content of racialism that the essential heritable characteristics of the `Races of Man' account for more than the visible morphological characteristics--skin color, hair type, facial features--on the basis of which we make our informal classifications...[R]acialism is false."  (Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 13.)

1. What is the origin of the term "anti-Semitism," according to de Lange?   What did the term mean to its inventors?

2. What is relation between racialism and anti-Semitism?  Why is the term "ancient anti-Semitism" inaccurate?

2. What are some of the examples of anti-Jewish prejudice of the Middle Ages? 

3. List the large-scale theories -- and de Lange's critiques of them -- that try to account for the emergence of anti-Jewish sentiment in antiquity.

4.  What is the Christian anti-Semitism theory?  What are its strong points and what are its weaknesses, according to de Lange?

5. De Lange praises Gager's work because it "divert[s] attention away from large-scale interpretations of the evidence towards specific treatment of particular authors and episodes" (32)."  What does de Lange imply here about the proper  relation between theory and empirical evidence?

6. De Lange suggests that, "this confusion of terminology [specifically, what "anti-Semitism" means] serves almost any interest rather than that of the pursuit of historical objectivity. It leads to a blunting of arguments, a blurring of valid and important distinctions" (22). Why is it important to be precise in our use of concepts and terms?  Give an example from de Lange's article of the problems resulting from the imprecise use of language, especially the imprecise use of concepts and terms.

Dinnerstein article:

1.  List three things you about American anti-Semitism that you didn't know before reading this article.

2.  What are some of the examples of increased antipathy toward Jews in the U.S. between the wars that Dinnerstein provides?

3. According to Dinnerstein, why did antisemitism surface as it did between the two world wars?

[Announcements] [Readings] [Questions] [Review] [Essays] [Forum]
[Description] [Texts] [Contact Info]  [Requirements] [Research Guide] [Writing Guide]

Paisley Currah
Department of Political Science
Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11210
Last Revised -- 04/27/99