Jewish Nightlife: Student Paper Topics

 

It’s that time of the semester. Students are working on their research papers. The process was prepared by the submission, several weeks ahead of when the papers are due, of individual Abstracts, or paper proposals.

As I provided feedback to students about their abstracts, helping them in fine-tuning their sources, and choice of topics, I also tried to summarize their research topics under general headings.

This year, the focus has been on the relationship between music and ritual (by circa 50% of the students), and on the related topics of folk (mostly, paraliturgical) music, of piyyut (or the study of liturgical poetry), and of Jewish mysticism. A small but substantial group of students is instead focusing on the ever-slippery and ever-fascinating topic of “Jewish identity.”

As always, I created a simple pie chart with my summary:

Jewish Nightlife 2017 Paper Proposal Topics

As a note: if I divided the proposals by discipline, or area study, we would have a clear majority of students working on ethnography and ethnomusicology, followed by papers in anthropology, cultural history, and literature.

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Planning Research: A Summer of Student Paper Proposals

Almost all abstracts/proposals for this semester’s research papers are in (as planned according to the course syllabus). As it is often the case when empowering students to select research topics according to their interests and strengths, the variety of the subjects that will be researched by the class is stunning.

From the aesthetics of 18th-century Kabbalistic musical rituals to the development of synagogue music in South India, from the cultural origins of Israeli secular shirah be-tzibur (communal singing) in nocturnal liturgies to the roles of women in the synagogue, from comparative fieldwork in UC Berkeley Jewish and Catholic student religious gatherings to the study of (religious) nightlife in Israel, Korea, and Las Vegas, our semester seems to be producing a lot of original thinking.

In the midst of this diversity, however, are some core and consistent disciplinary approaches. As outlined since the beginning of the semester, the study of (Jewish) nightlife is necessarily a multi-disciplinary endeavor, and the approaches adopted by the students in the class seems to confirm just that. (Phew!).

Below is a graph the summarizes the disciplinary trends expressed in the abstracts submitted this week:

Jewish Nightlife 2014 Research Paper Topics

There are seven groups of papers, listed in order of magnitude:

  1. Religious studies and ethnomusicology (liturgy and piyyut)
  2. Area studies (Jewish communities in the global diaspora)
  3. Musicology (Jews and popular music in America and beyond)
  4. Musicology (Jews and art music in the synagogue, 18th-20th centuries)
  5. Comparative studies (ritual and nightlife in Jewish and non-Jewish communities)
  6. Gender studies (women in Jewish ritual)
  7. Intellectual history

Now, I guess we will have to wait for the papers to flow in to see the results of this semester’s work. Looking forward…