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 ancient, medieval, and modern phases of Jewish culture(s) by means of documents and artifacts that illuminate the rhythms of daily life in changing economic, social, and political contexts. Texts in English.
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. Jews in the Modern World. Jews under Muslim Rule. The class covers Jewish-Muslim relations from the early Islamic state to the modern period. The history of Jews in Arab lands was typically told as either as a model of a harmonious coexistence, or, conversely, as a tale of perpetual persecution. Our class will try to read beyond these modes of analysis, by looking into particular contexts and the unique historical circumstances of a variety of Jewish communities whose members lived under Muslim rule. The class will explore the ways in which Jewish culture—namely, theology, grammar, philosophy, and literature—thrived, and was transformed, in the medieval and early modern periods, as a result of its fruitful interactions with Muslim and Arab cultures. Likewise we will study how liberal and communist Jews struggled to attain equal rights in their communities, and their understanding of various concepts of citizenship. Finally, the class will study the problems faced by Jews from Muslim lands as they immigrated to Israel in the 1950s. The class will discuss such concepts as “Sephardim,” “Mizrahim,” and “Arab-Jews,” as well as “Dhimmis” and “People of the Book” and investigate how their meaning changed in various historical contexts. O. Bashkin. Winter.
JWSC 20003 (= HIST 22202, NEHC 20403/30403). Jewish History and Society III. Narratives of Assimilation. This course offers a survey of the manifold artistic strategies of (self-)representations of Jewish writers from East Central Europe from the perspective of assimilation, its trials, successes, and failures. During this course, we will inquire how the condition called assimilation and its attendants—secularization, acculturation, trans-nationalism, etc.—have been explored by Mary Antin, Anzia Yezierska, Adolf Rudnicki, Eva Hoffman, and others. Students will be acquainted with problems of cultural alienation and linguistic isolation, hybrid identity, and cultural transmission in conjunction with theoretical approaches by Zygmunt Bauman, Benjamin Harshav, Ryszard Nycz. All texts will be 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 11004). 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 (=RLST 20604). Jewish Thought and Literature III: The Jewish Interpretation of the Bible in the Middle Ages. J. Robinson. Spring.