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2013-14 Courses Approved for the Jewish Studies Major/Minor

Please click here for an archive of past courses.

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Interested students may also consult the graduate course page, as some graduate courses in Jewish Studies may be open to undergraduates by permission of the instructor.

Judaic Civilization 2013-2014

Two sequences of Judaic Civilization will be offered for 2013-2014, Jewish History and Society and Jewish Thought and Literature.  Both sequences meet the general education requirement in civilization studies; taking the courses in sequence is not required.

Jewish History and Society I-II-II

Students explore the role of “place” in the construction of identity, whether as a centering force or an oppositional one, as communities consolidate, disband, migrate, and encounter others. Courses focus on the constructions of place in the ancient kingdom of Judea, in the recent Jewish diasporas of East Central Europe and America, and in the modern state of Israel. Students engage a wide range of sources: ancient and modern, verbal and visual, literary and historical.

JWSC 20001 (= NEHC 20401/30401, HIST 22113, CRES 20001, RLST 20604, BIBL 31400). Jewish History and Society I. Ancient Jerusalem. The course will survey biblical, archaeological, and other early sources, as well as scholarly literature, to trace a history of ancient Jerusalem and to probe the religious significance of the city, its king, the temple that stood there, the activities that took place in and around it, and ideas that developed about it. Along the way, the course will model the modern, academic study of biblical literature, of the history and society of ancient Israel and Judea, and of religion. S. Chavel. Autumn.

JWSC 20002 (= HIST 22406, NEHC 20402/30402, CRES 20002). Jewish History and Society II. Israel Society and Jewish Cultures - Religiosity, Nation, Migration. The class will discuss the connections between Israeli history and Jewish history. We will explore the history of the state since its establishment, its intellectual elites, their cultural production, as well as the protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins organized by Israeli Jews in Israel during the years 1948-2012. The class will reflect on tensions between Israelis of different origins, Mizrahi, Ashkenazi and Ethiopian communities in particular, and will discuss whether the arrival of various communities of Jews to Israel signified a liberating exodus from an oppressive  exile; we will therefore consider different periodizations of Israeli history in which the moment of arrival to Israel of various migrants/’olim (like Holocaust survivors, Mizrahi Jews, and others) marked the beginning of a difficult journey, aimed at achieving social mobility and citizenship rights in the Jewish state. We will also look at conflicts based on religion, especially the encounters between Haredi, national-religious and secular Jews in Israel. Finally, we will explore Israel’s relations with its Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian subjects in the occupied West Bank. The class will consider instances of politicized violence in Israel, and reflect on the ways in which their analysis could inform our thinking about social identities, nationalism, and religiosity. We will try to read against, and beyond, national Zionist narratives; unpack many national silences regarding the social and economic tensions embodied in these events, and study their implications with respect to visions of pluralism, binationalism, integration, and nationalism in Israel.O. Bashkin. Winter.

JWSC 20003 (= NEHC 20403/30403, SLAV 27001/37001, POLI 27001/37001). Jewish History and Society III. Narratives of Assimilation. Engaging the concept of liminality—of a community at the threshold of radical transformation—the course analyzes how East Central European Jewry, facing economic uncertainties and dangers of modern anti-Semitism, seeks another diasporic space in America. Projected against the historical backdrop of the end of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, the immigration narratives are viewed through the lens of assimilation, its trials and failures; in particular, we investigate how the creative self reacts to the challenges of radical otherness, such as the new environment, its cultural codes and language barriers. In particular, we discuss the manifold strategies of artistic (self)-representations of the Jewish writers, many of whom came from East Central European shtetls to be confronted with assimilation to the American metropolitan space and life style. During this course, we inquire how the condition called assimilation and its attendants– secularization, acculturation, cosmopolitanism, etc.—is adapted or resisted according to the generational differences, a given historical moment or inherited strategies of survival and adaptation. We seek answers to the perennial question why some émigré writers react negatively to the social, moral and cultural values of the host country and others seize them as a creative opportunity. Students are acquainted with problems of cultural and linguistic isolation, hybrid identity formation and cultural transmission through a wide array of artistic genres—a novel, short story, memoir, painting, and illustration. Selected readings from Zygmunt Bauman, Benjamin Harshav, and Ryszard Nycz will provide students with the fundamentals of assimilation theory. The course draws on the autobiographical writings of Russian-Jewish, Polish-Jewish and American-Jewish authors such as Sholem Aleichem, Anzia Yezierska, Isaac B. Singer, Eva Hoffman and others; all texts are read in English. B. Shallcross. Spring.

 

Jewish Thought and Literature I-II-III

Students in this sequence explore Jewish thought and literature from ancient times until the modern era through a close reading of original sources. A wide variety of works is discussed, including the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and texts representative of rabbinic Judaism, medieval Jewish philosophy, and modern Jewish culture in its diverse manifestations. Texts in English.

JWSC 20004 (= BIBL 31000, RLST 11005, NEHC 20404). Jewish Thought and Literature I: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is a complex anthology of disparate texts and reflects a diversity of religious, political, and historical perspectives from ancient Israel, Judah, and Yehud. Because this collection of texts continues to play an important role in modern religions, new meanings are often imposed upon it. In this course, we will attempt to read biblical texts apart from modern preconceptions about them. We will also contextualize their ideas and goals through comparison with texts from ancient Mesopotamia, Syro-Palestine, and Egypt. Such comparisons will demonstrate that the Hebrew Bible is fully part of the cultural milieu of the Ancient Near East. To accomplish these goals, we will read a significant portion of the Hebrew Bible in English, along with representative selections from secondary literature. We will also spend some time thinking about the nature of biblical interpretation. J. Stackert. Autumn.

JWSC 20005 (= NEHC 20405/30405). Jewish Thought and Literature II: The Bible and Archaeology.  In this course we will look at how interpretation of evidence unearthed by archaeologists contributes to a historical-critical reading of the Bible, and vice versa. We will focus on the cultural background of the biblical narratives, from the stories of Creation and Flood to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans in the year 70. No prior coursework in archaeology or biblical studies is required, although it will be helpful for students to have taken JWSC 20004 (Introduction to the Hebrew Bible) in the Autumn quarter D. Schloen. Winter.

JWSC 20006. Jewish Thought and Literature III: The Jewish Interpretation of the Bible in the Middle Ages. J. Robinson. Spring.

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Other Jewish Studies Offerings

HIST 25902/35902 (= INST 25902, INRE 36000, JWSC 25902, NEHC 20996/30996). History of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. This lecture course traces the development of the Arab-Israeli conflict from its nineteenth-century origins to the present day. It examines the social and ideological roots of Zionism and Palestinian Arab nationalism, the growth of Arab-Jewish hostility in Palestine during the late Ottoman and British mandate periods, the involvement of the Arab states and the great powers, the series of Arab-Israeli wars, the two intifadas, and the efforts towards negotiated agreements between Israel and the Arab states and between Israel and the Palestinians. B. Wasserstein. Autumn. O. Bashkin. Winter.

JWSC 11000 (= ARAM 10101). Biblical Aramaic. PQ: Second-year standing and knowledge of Classical Hebrew. S. Creason. Autumn. This course will be offered in Autumn 2014 and in alternate years.

JWSC 11100 ( = ARAM 10102). Old Aramaic Inscriptions. PQ: Second-year standing and ARAM 10101. S. Creason. Spring. This course will be offered in Spring 2015 and in alternate years.

JWSC 11200 (= ARAM 10103). Imperial Aramaic. PQ: Second-year standing and ARAM 10101. S. Creason. Winter. This course will be offered in Winter 2015 and in alternate years.

JWSC 20300-20400-20500 (= YDDH 10100-10200-10300) Elementary Yiddish I, II, III. The goal of this sequence is to develop proficiency in reading, writing, listening,  and speaking skills. Touchstones of global Yiddish culture are also introduced through song, film, and contemporary Yiddish websites. S. Yudkoff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

JWSC 20910 (= RLST 20910, NEHC 20911) Prophets in Jewish and Islamic Traditions. In this course, we will study the tales of the prophets as found in the Bible, the Qur’an, and Jewish and Islamic interpretive traditions. By examining and enjoying the narratives of individual prophets, we will develop an understanding of prophecy as a broad religious phenomenon. The course offers opportunities for comparative enquiry into two sacred scriptures—the Bible and the Qur’an—and the rich interpretive literature that Jewish and Islamic communities created in order to understand them. All readings will be in English translation. Assignments include three short essays, an oral presentation, and a final exam.
J. Andruss. Winter.

JWSC 22000-22100-22200 (= HEBR 10101-10102-10103). Elementary Classical Hebrew I-II-III. The purpose of this three-quarter sequence is to enable students to read biblical Hebrew prose with a high degree of comprehension. This sequence is divided into two segments: (1) the first two quarters are devoted to acquiring the essentials of descriptive and historical grammar (e.g., translation to and from Hebrew, oral exercises, grammatical analysis); and (2) the third quarter is spent examining prose passages from the Hebrew Bible and includes a review of grammar. The class meets five times a week. S. Creason. Autumn, Winter, Spring, annually.

JWSC 22201-22302 (= HEBR 20301-20302). Tannaitic Hebrew Texts I-II. PQ: Some basic knowledge of biblical and/or modern Hebrew, and consent of instructor.  This course consists of readings in the Mishnah and Tosefta, the main corpus of legal and juridical texts assembled by the Palestinian academic masters during the second and early third centuries. Goals are to introduce: (1) views and opinions of early rabbinic scholars who flourished in the period immediately following that of the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls; (2) aspects of the material culture of the Palestinian Jews during that same period; and (3) grammar and vocabulary of what is generally called “early rabbinic Hebrew,” thereby facilitating the ability to read and understand unvocalized Hebrew texts. N. Golb. Autumn, Winter, annually.

JWSC 22300-22400-22500 (= HEBR 20104-20105-20106). Intermediate Classical Hebrew I-II-III. PQ: HEBR 10103 or equivalent. The first quarter consists of reviewing grammar and of reading and analyzing further prose texts. The last two quarters introduce Hebrew poetry, with readings from Psalms, Proverbs, and the prophets.  D. Pardee. Autumn, Winter, Spring annually.

JWSC 23000-23100-23200 (=HUMA 23000-23100-23200, NEHC 20411/30411-20412/30412-20413/30413). Medieval Jewish History I-II-III. PQ: Consent of the instructor. This three-quarter sequence deals with the history of the Jews over a wide geographical and historical range. First-quarter work is concerned with the rise of early rabbinic Judaism and development of the Jewish communities in Palestine and the Eastern and Western diasporas during the first several centuries CE. Topics include the legal status of the Jews in the Roman world, the rise of rabbinic Judaism, the rabbinic literature of Palestine in that context, the spread of rabbinic Judaism, the rise and decline of competing centers of Jewish hegemony, the introduction of Hebrew language and culture beyond the confines of their original home, and the impact of the birth of Islam on the political and cultural status of the Jews. An attempt is made to evaluate the main characteristics of Jewish belief and social concepts in the formative periods of Judaism as it developed beyond its original geographical boundaries. Second-quarter work is concerned with the Jews under Islam, both in Eastern and Western Caliphates. Third-quarter work is concerned with the Jews of Western Europe from the eleventh through the fifteenth centuries. This sequence does not meet the general education requirement in civilization studies. N. Golb. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

JWSC 23312 (=HIST 23312/33312). Jews in the Diaspora since 1945. This lecture course surveys the main features of the social and political history of the Jews in the Diaspora from 1945 to the present. Among the topics discussed will be: demographic change and migration; the long-term impact of the Shoah; Israel-Diaspora relations; the dissolution of the Jewish communities of the Muslim world; Soviet Jewry; and evolving Christian attitudes towards Jews. B. Wasserstein. Autumn.

JWSC 23509 (=HIST 23509/33509, GRMN 23514/33514). The Jews of Central and East/Central Europe during the Interwar Period. The course intends to lay the foundations for understanding the historical constellation of the Jews in Central and East-Central Europe in the inter-war period, 1919-1939. First, we consider the structural transformation from empires into nation-states as the backdrop of World War I and its aftershocks, especially the pogroms and anti-Jewish violence that accompanied the rise of ethnic nationalism in newly established nations-states. Next, we concentrate on the year 1919 and the Paris Peace Conference, with the minority-treaties as the “Jewish” theme. Finally, we focus on the dissolution of the political order, using the framework of the League of Nations and its repercussions on Jewish life in the region. The course focus will be to gain knowledge and historical awareness concerning Central and East-Central Jewish life; the course will also consider questions of methodology and theory of Jewish history in the modern age. D. Diner. Spring.

JWSC 24500 (=JWSC 24500, CHDV 27317, CRES 27317). America’s White Ethnics: Contemporary Italian- and Jewish-American Ethnic Identities. Using American Italians and Jews as case studies, this course investigates what it means to be a white “ethnic” in the contemporary American context and examines what constitutes an ethnic identity. In the mid-20th century, the long-standing ideal of an American melting-pot began to recede. The rise of racial pride, ushered in by the Civil Rights era, made way for the emergence of ethnic identity/pride movements, and multiculturalisms, more broadly, became privileged. To some extent, in the latter half of the 20th century America became a post-assimilationist society and culture, where many still strived to “fit-in,” but it was no longer necessarily the ideal to “blend-in” or lose one’s ethnic trappings. In this context, it has become not only possible, but often desirable, to be at the same time American, white, and an ethnic. Through the investigation of the Jewish and Italian examples, this discussion-style course will look at how ethnicity is manifested in, for example, class, religion, gender, nostalgia, and place, as well as how each of these categories is in turn constitutive of ethnic identity. The course will illustrate that there is no fixed endpoint of assimilation or acculturation, after which a given individual is fully “American,” but that ethnic identity, and its various constituent elements, persists and perpetually evolves, impacting individual identities and experience, and both local/group specific and larger cultural narratives even many generations after immigration. L. Shapiro. Autumn.

JWSC 25000-25100-25200 (= HEBR 10501-10502-10503). Introductory Modern Hebrew I-II-III. This course introduces students to reading, writing, and speaking modern Hebrew. All four language skills are emphasized: comprehension of written and oral materials; reading of nondiacritical text; writing of directed sentences, paragraphs, and compositions; and speaking. Students learn the Hebrew root pattern system and the seven basic verb conjugations in both the past and present tenses, as well as simple future. At the end of the year, students can conduct short conversations in Hebrew, read materials at their level, and write short essays. A. Finkelstein.  Autumn, Winter, Spring.

JWSC 25148 (=MAPS 35148, ANTH 25148/35148, NELC 25148/35148, CMES 35148). Israel in Film and Ethnography. PQ: Limited to third or fourth year undergraduate students and graduate students. Combining weekly screenings of both Israeli fiction and documentary films with readings from ethnographic and other relevant research, this seminar will explore the dynamics of ethnic and religious diversity in modern Israeli society. Some of the (often overlapping) topics to be covered in this examination of the institutional and ideological construction of Israeli identity/ies: the absorption of immigrants; ethnic, class, and religious tensions; the kibbutz; military experience; the Holocaust and other traumas; evolving attitudes about gender and sexuality; and the struggle for minorities’ rights. M. Fred. Winter, Spring.

JWSC 25300-25400-25500 (=HEBR 20501-20502-20503). Intermediate Modern Hebrew I-II-III. PQ: HEBR 10503 or equivalent. The main objective of this course is to provide students with the skills necessary to approach modern Hebrew prose, both fiction and nonfiction. In order to achieve this task, students are provided with a systematic examination of the complete verb structure. Many syntactic structures are introduced (e.g., simple clauses, coordinate and compound sentences). At this level, students not only write and speak extensively but are also required to analyze grammatically and contextually all of material assigned. A. Finkelstein.  Autumn, Winter, Spring.

JWSC 25600-25700-25800 (= HEBR 30501-30502-30503). Advanced Modern Hebrew I-II-III. PQ: HEBR 20503 or equivalent. This course assumes that students have full mastery of the grammatical and lexical content of the intermediate level. The main objective is literary fluency. The texts used in this course include both academic prose, as well as literature. Students are exposed to semantics and morphology in addition to advanced grammar. A. Finkelstein. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

JWSC 25601 (=JWSC 25601, HEBR 30601, LGLN 23001, LGLN 33001). Advanced Readings in Modern Hebrew. PQ: HEBR 20503 or equivalent. Although this course assumes that students have full mastery of the grammatical and lexical content at the intermediate level, there is a shift from a reliance on the cognitive approach to an emphasis on the expansion of various grammatical and vocabulary-related subjects. After being introduced to sophisticated and more complex syntactic constructions, students learn how to transform simple sentences into more complicated ones. The exercises address the creative efforts of students, and the reading segments are longer and more challenging in both style and content. The language of the texts reflects the literary written medium rather than the more informal spoken style, which often dominates the introductory and intermediate texts. N. Rokem. Winter.

JWSC 25902 (=NEHC 20996/30996, HIST 25902/35902, INRE 36000, INST 25902, CRES 25902). History of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. This course traces the development of the Arab-Israeli conflict from its nineteenth-century origins to the present day. It examines the social and ideological roots of Zionism and Palestinian Arab nationalism, the growth of Arab-Jewish hostility in Palestine during the late Ottoman and British mandate periods, the involvement of the Arab states and the great powers, the series of Arab-Israeli wars, the two intifadas, and the efforts towards negotiated agreements between Israel and the Arab states and between Israel and the Palestinians. O. Bashkin. Winter.

JWSC 26100 (=RLST 25110, HIJD 35200, PHIL 25110/35110). Maimonides and Hume on Religion. This course will study in alternation chapters from Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed and David Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, two major philosophical works whose literary forms are at least as important as their contents. Topics will include human knowledge of the existence and nature of God, anthropomorphism and idolatry, religious language, and the problem of evil. Time permitting, we shall also read other short works by these two authors on related themes. J. Stern. Autumn

JWSC 26700 (= PHIL 25112/35112, DVPR 35112, RLST 25112, HIJD 35112)Philosophy, Talmudic Culture, and Religious Experience: Soloveitchik. Joseph Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of religion of the twentieth-century.  Firmly rooted in the tradition of Biblical and Talmudic texts and culture, Soloveitchik elaborated a phenomenology of Jewish self-consciousness and religious experience that has significant implications for the philosophy of religion more generally.  This course will consist of a study of some of his major books and essays.  Topics to be covered may include the nature of Halakhic man and Soloveitchik’s philosophical anthropology, the problem of faith in the modern world, questions of suffering, finitude and human emotions, the nature of prayer, the idea of cleaving to God.  Soloveitchik will be studied both from within the Jewish tradition and in the context of the classical questions of the philosophy of religion.  Some previous familiarity with his thought is recommended. A. Davidson. Winter.

JWSC 29200 ( = NEHC 24302/44302, RLIT 44302). The Representation of the Holocaust in Hebrew/Israeli Literature. From the early 1940s to this very day, the mass murder of the Jews in Europe during WW11 has been a major theme in Hebrew/Israeli fiction, poetry and drama.  The many gifted individuals who have contributed to Israeli “Holocaust literature” come from different backgrounds.  Some are survivors (e.g., K. Zetnik, Aharon Appelfeld, Dan Pagis).  Others are natives of East Europe who happened to spend the War years far away from counties under Nazi occupation (e.g., Nathan Alterman, U.Z. Greenberg).  And then there are the native Israeli authors (e.g., Haim Gury, Yoram Kaniuk) who became engaged in the subject only after the war, largely in the aftermath of the Eichmann trial.  Since the 1980’s much of this literature, which is alive to this very day, has been largely produced by writers of the post-Holocaust generation (Yehoshua Sobol, Nava Semel and David Grossman). The aim of this course is to draw a broad picture of this literary-cultural phenomenon, based on selected reading of novels, short stories, poems and plays, all available in English translation.  Literary texts will be studied in the context of the complex attitude of Israeli society towards the Holocaust and in relation to the ideological and political debates in which it has been involved, both during World War 11 and after. Constant reference will be made to films, stage productions, television programs and other media of representation, related, directly and indirectly, to the literary texts. D. Laor. Spring.

JWSC 29700 Reading and Research Course. Consent of instructor and Undergraduate Program Adviser. Autumn, Winter, Spring. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.

JWSC 29800 Reading Yiddish for Research (= YDDH 29800/39800). Students must consult with the instructor the the eighth week of the preceding quarter to determine the subject of the course and the work to be done. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course form. S. Yudkoff. Winter.

JWSC 29900 BA Paper Preparation Course. PQ: Consent of instructor and Undergraduate Program Adviser. Autumn, Winter, Spring. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Required of honors candidates. May be taken for P/F grading with consent of instructor.

RUSS 26207/36207 The Transnational Subject: Jewish Writers and Russian Literature. This  course considers the experience of Jewish national subjectivity under conditions of Russian and Soviet empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While attentive to practices of physical marginalization and assimilation (the Pale of Settlement, Birobidzhan), we will focus mainly on the literary record in works by Dostoevsky, Solovyov, Kovner, Babel, An-sky, Bagritsky, Grossman, Ehrenburg, and Brodsky. The syllabus also includes works in theatre, painting and film, as well as important critical texts on subjectivity and post-colonial theory. W. Nickell. Spring.