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2015-16 Courses Approved for the Jewish Studies Major/Minor

Please click here for an archive of past courses.

Click here to be re-directed to the College Catalog.

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.

Visit the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies website for a constantly updated list of courses in Jewish Studies.

JWSC 20120 (= BIBL31000; RLST 11005) Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. The course will survey the contents of all twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible, and introduce critical questions regarding its central and marginal figures, events, and ideas, its literary qualities and anomalies, the history of its composition and transmission, its relation to other artifacts from the biblical period, its place in the history and society of ancient Israel, and its relation to the larger culture of the ancient Near East. S. Chavel. Winter.

JWSC 20121 (= NEHC 20121/30121, RLST 20408) 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 20120 (Introduction to the Hebrew Bible). D. Schloen. Spring.

JWSC 20222 (= CMLT 20222, ENGL 24216, GRMN 24216, REES 27023, RLST 20222, YDDH 24216) Writing the Jewish Body: Health, Disease, Literature. This course investigates the representation of the Jewish body in twentieth-century prose. We will focus on the European, American and Israeli contexts, exploring how the figures of health and illness are mobilized as commentaries on Jewish identity. We will also consider how representations of physical strength, physiological frailty, contagion and susceptibility shift in different landscapes and in different languages, paying particular attention to such figures as the ailing shtetl dweller, the Central European Jewish patient and the Zionist “New Jew.” Readings include works by Mendele Mocher Sforim, Franz Kafka, Philip Roth and Orly Castel-Bloom in conversation with theoretical texts by Susan Sontag, Walter Benjamin and Arthur Kleinman. All readings are in English. A section may be organized for reading sources in Yiddish. S. Yudkoff. Winter.

JWSC 20223  (= HIST 23404, NEHC 20223/30223, REES 27003/37003, RLST 26623) 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. 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 critically 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 identity formation and cultural transmission through a wide array of artistic genres—a novel, short story, memoir, photograph, and illustration. The course draws on the autobiographical writings of Russian-Jewish, Polish-Jewish and American-Jewish authors such as Sholem Aleichem, Anzia Yezierska, Mary Antin, Isaac B. Singer, Eva Hoffman and others; all texts are read in English. B. Shallcross. Winter.

JWSC 20224 (= HIST 23410) Jewish Civilizations: Jewish Spaces and Places, Real and Imagined. What makes a ghetto, a ghetto? What defines a Jewish neighborhood?  What determined the architectural form of synagogues?  Making extensive use of Jewish law and customary practice, cookbooks, etiquette guides, prints, films, novels, maps, memoirs, architectural drawings and photographs, and tourist guides this course will analyze how Jews (in all their diversity) and non-Jews defined Jewish spaces and places.  The focus will be on Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, but we will also venture back into the early modern period and across the Mediterranean to Palestine/Israel and North Africa and the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the Americas.  We will study both actually existing structures  — synagogues, ritual baths, schools, kosher (and kosher-style) butcher shops, bakeries and restaurants, social and political clubs, hospitals, orphanages, old age homes, museums and memorials — but also texts and visual culture in which Jewish places and spaces are imagined or vilified.  Parallel to our work with primary sources we will read in the recent, very rich, scholarly literature on this topic.  This is not a survey course; we will undertake a series of intensive case-studies through which we will address the larger issues.  This is a limited-enrollment, discussion-based course in which both undergraduates and graduate students are welcome.  No previous knowledge of Jewish history is expected. L. Auslander. Autumn.

JWSC 20225 (= CMLT 20225, NEHC 20225) Multilingualism and Translation in Modern Jewish Literature. Covering the period roughly between 1880 and 1980, this course touches on some of the transformations and upheavals that have formed modern Jewish culture: waves of migration, modernization, and assimilation; the rise of Jewish nationalism and the foundation of the State of Israel; and the Holocaust. Our driving questions will be: How do these different revolutions and upheavals influence the dynamic relations between the different languages in which Jews speak and write? What is the role of translation in Jewish culture? What do we learn from the Jewish case about language politics more broadly? How should we theorize and describe the monolingual ideologies that are dominant in the modern West? And how should we read bilingual literature? N. Rokem. Spring.

JWSC 20229 (= NEHC 20229/30229) Israeli Cultural History, 1948–2015. The course looks at manifestations of new Israeli history and Zionist ideology in film, literature and art. We will explore how various works reflect tensions in Israeli society between secular and religious groups, Jews and Muslims, rich and poor, women and men, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim. We will likewise examine how the debates relating to LBGT rights, Palestinian rights and women’s rights affected Israeli culture. We will start with the early debates in the Israeli state about migration and integration and end with debates about militarism and the draft. O. Bashkin. Spring.

JWSC 20485 (= NEHC 20485) Jews in Graeco-Roman Egypt. S. Torallas-Tovar. Autumn.

JWSC 20687 (= NEHC 20687) Arab Responses to Fascism, Nazism, & Anti-Semitism, 1922-1945. The rise of Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany triggered a broad spectrum of reactions and attitudes in the Arab world. This range of responses was expressed on the cultural-intellectual level, as well as on the political-practical level. Many Arab intellectuals and politicians were actively involved in forming a discourse and set of practices and policies in response to the strengthening of the Fascist dictatorships in Europe. In this spectrum of responses, one can find expressions of identification and support for Nazism and Fascism, as well as sentiments of repulsion and resistance – collaboration versus rejection. The course will examine the development of Fascist and Nazi influences in the Arab Middle East. It will present voices, bodies, and forces that supported Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. In contrast, it will present voices, organizations, and movements that resisted these racist and imperialist dictatorships. Special attention will be given to the domestic Arab debates surrounding Nazism and Fascism, all this against a backdrop of the Arab national struggle for independence from British and French rule, and the profound social changes taking place in Arab societies during the period. It will attempt to show that despite the escalating anti-Colonial struggle for liberation and independence (against Britain and France), the option of support for Nazi and Fascist colonial rule was generally rejected. Visual images from the period will be presented during the course. I. Gershoni. Spring.

JWSC 24600 (= PHIL 23600, RLST 25900, PHIL 33600) Medieval Philosophy. This course involves a study of the development of philosophy in the West in the first thirteen centuries of the common era with focus on Neoplatonism. Early Christian philosophical, Islamic Kalam, Jewish philosophy, and Christian philosophical theology. Readings include works of Plotinus, Augustine, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Maimonides, Averroes, and Thomas Aquinas. PQ: PHIL 25000. J. Stern. Winter.

JWSC 25116 (= YDDH 25116/35116) Yiddish Literature Between the World Wars. This course provides an introduction to the major authors, themes, and literary styles of Yiddish prose between the two World Wars. In the wake of WWI—or “The Catastrophe” as it was known in Yiddish—writers tried to make sense of the new cultural, linguistic and political landscapes with which they were met. The result is a body of texts in which discharged soldiers, urban migrants, struggling poets, committed communists and dissolving rabbinical dynasties compete for power and attention. We will examine these issues in texts produced in the shifting centers of Yiddish modernism: Moscow, Berlin, Warsaw and New York. We begin with Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman, published as the First World War was coming to an end and we conclude with a novel by Yankev Glatshteyn, published only months after the German invasion of Poland. This discussion-based course will presume no previous knowledge of Yiddish literature or language. Taught in English. Yiddish readers will meet for an additional weekly session. S. Yudkoff. Spring.

JWSC 26251 (= RLST 25105, FNDL 25105, HIJD 35004, ISLM 35004). Readings in Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy b. Yaqzan. J. Robinson. Winter.

JWSC 27150 (= MUSI 23516/33516) Judeo-Islamic Musical Intersections. Following the inception of Islam in the early 7th century, most Jews at that time found themselves living under this new geo-political-religious power. This close multidenominational encounter continued without interruption, albeit in different numbers, until the 20th century. The interaction between Islam and Judaism at all levels of culture was intense. Music was one of major fields in which such a Judeo-Islamic exchange occurred. This course will survey different areas of Judeo-Islamic musical contacts in vast geographical areas from the Maghreb to Central Asia, in diverse genres and contexts of musical performance, such as the synagogue, religious festivals, life cycle events, folk song, courtly traditions and modern popular music. Basic issues to be addressed are the study of music in ritual contexts, music as a marker of identities, music as a medium for religious experiences, music memory and conflict, music and colonialism, and music as a constituent of modernity outside Europe. Modern and postmodern constructions of the remote past, e.g. the “convinvecia” of Jews, Muslims and Christians in medieval Spain, will be discussed a-propos music. Another topic is the fate of Jewish musical traditions from the Lands of Islam after their massive dislocations in the 20th century in genres such as musika mizrahit in Israel and the chanson franco-arabe in France. The pervasive notion (especially in the field of “World Music”) that through music contemporary Jews and Muslims can (re-)enact reconciliation will be discussed critically. Oral appreciation, analysis and interpretation of recorded and visual musical materials are the basis for this course that does not require proficiency in reading musical notation. A selection of reading assignments on the subject will supplement listening activities. Open to non-music majors. E. Seroussi. Winter.

JWSC 28800 (= CMLT 29705) Introduction to Comparative Literature II: Case Study: Davidismo. This course will examine the story of David in 1 and 2 Samuel in combination with some of its myriad literary and artistic afterlives in order to explore the nature of biblical narrative and (biblical) rewriting. The narrative’s familial drama, political intrigue, subtle characterization, and philological challenges have inspired a wide variety of reinterpretations in disparate literary traditions and historical periods, providing fertile ground for comparative analysis. Students will initially gain some of the skills and perspectives needed to approach the biblical text in translation as a literary artifact as well as an appreciation of the difficulties inherent in such a task. Subsequently, students will engage with literary reworkings of the narrative organized around issues such as gender, political power, and Jewish/Christian identity-formation and accompanied by select theoretical works treating rewriting and intertextuality. Why has this story— and David himself— had such lasting resonance? How do later works from different periods and linguistic traditions both capitalize on certain aspects of the ‘original’ and redefine it in important ways? What role do rewritings play in literature, and what does it mean to read these distinct interpretations together? The David Story offers rich opportunities for thinking through these and other comparative literary questions. Literary works will include plays and novels by Tirso de Molina, Gide, Faulkner, Heym, Weil, and Kalisky as well as selections from NBC’s critically-acclaimed 2009 drama, Kings; theorists may include Curtius, Warburg, Tynianov, Genette, Ben-Porat, and Rabau, among others. C. Blackshear. Spring.

JWSC 29500 The Holocaust Object (=HIST 23413/33413, REES 27019/37019, ANTH 23910/35035). What is the role of ordinary everyday things in the extraordinary time of war and genocide? What was their power in the brutalized and debased existence of Holocaust victims? In this multidisciplinary course, we explore and reconstruct the often overlooked, yet meaningful connections between humans and everyday things during and after WW II. Arguing for their interdependence, we read narratives which emphasize things and represent various Holocaust artifacts and material remnants as they were used, looted, amassed, photographed, displayed, and, therefore, controlled. In the next stages of our virtual tour through the memorial sites and museums located in former ghettos and extermination and concentration camps, we ask how the post-Holocaust matter and things deliver their “testimonies” and serve as tools of remembrance. We study the ways in which the post-Holocaust material world, ranging from infrastructure to detritus, has been subjected to two, often conflicting, tasks of representation and preservation, which we view through a prism of authenticity. In order to study representational strategies, we engage a textual and visual reading of museum narrations and fiction writings; to tackle with demands of preservation we apply a neo-materialist approach to analyze the diminishing post-Holocaust material world. By engaging these discourses the course tracks the impact of ever evolving memory politics and ideologies on the Holocaust remnants understood here as both the (post)human and material. The course will also equip students with salient critical tools for future research in the Holocaust studies and thing theory. No knowledge of Polish required. B. Shallcross. Spring.

Language Courses

HEBR 10101-10102-10103. Elementary Classical Hebrew I-II-III.

The purpose of this three-quarter sequence is to enable the student to read biblical Hebrew prose with a high degree of comprehension. The course is divided into two segments: (1) the first two quarters are devoted to acquiring the essentials of descriptive and historical grammar (including translation to and from Hebrew, oral exercises, and grammatical analysis); and (2) the third quarter is spent examining prose passages from the Hebrew Bible and includes a review of grammar.

HEBR 10101 (= JWSC 22000) Elementary Classical Hebrew I. Note(s): This class meets 5 times a week. S. Creason. Autumn.

HEBR 10102 (= JWSC 22100) Elementary Classical Hebrew II. Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10101 or equivalent. Note(s): This class meets 5 times a week. S. Creason. Winter.

HEBR 10103 (= JWSC 22200) Elementary Classical Hebrew III. Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10102 or equivalent. Note(s): This class meets 5 times a week. S. Creason. Spring.

HEBR 10501-10502-10503. Introductory Modern Hebrew I-II-III.

This three quarter 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 designed to their level, and write short essay.

HEBR 10501 (= JWSC 25000) Introductory Modern Hebrew I. A. Almog. Autumn.

HEBR 10502 (= JWSC 25100) Introductory Modern Hebrew II. Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10501 or equivalent. A. Almog. Winter.

HEBR 10503 (= JWSC 25200) Introductory Modern Hebrew III. Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10502 or equivalent. A. Almog. Spring.

HEBR 20104-20105-20106. Intermediate Classical Hebrew I-II-III.

A continuation of Elementary Classical Hebrew. The first quarter consists of reviewing grammar, and of reading and analyzing further prose texts. The last two quarters are devoted to an introduction to Hebrew poetry with readings from Psalms, Proverbs, and the prophets.

HEBR 20104 (= JWSC 22300). Intermediate Classical Hebrew I. PQ: HEBR 10103 or equivalent. D. Pardee. Autumn.

HEBR 20105 (= JWSC 22400). Intermediate Classical Hebrew II. PQ: HEBR 20104 or equivalent. D. Pardee. Winter.

HEBR 20106 (= JWSC 22500). Intermediate Classical Hebrew II. PQ: HEBR 20105 or equivalent. D. Pardee. Spring.

HEBR 20501-20502-20503. Intermediate Modern Hebrew I-II-III.

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.

HEBR 20501 (= JWSC 25300) Intermediate Modern Hebrew I. PQ: HEBR 10503 or equivalent. Note: The course is devised for students who have previously taken either modern or biblical Hebrew courses. A. Almog. Autumn.

HEBR 20502 (= JWSC 25400) Intermediate Modern Hebrew II. PQ: HEBR 20501 or equivalent. Note: The course is devised for students who have previously taken either modern or biblical Hebrew courses. A. Almog. Winter.

HEBR 20503 (= JWSC 25500) Intermediate Modern Hebrew III. PQ: HEBR 20502 or equivalent. Note: The course is devised for students who have previously taken either modern or biblical Hebrew courses. A. Almog. Spring.

YDDH 10100-10200-10300. Elementary Yiddish I, II, III.

The goal of this sequence is to develop proficiency in Yiddish reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Touchstones of global Yiddish culture are also introduced through song, film, and contemporary Yiddish websites.

YDDH 10100 (= JWSC 20300, LGLN 27200) Elementary Yiddish I. No auditors permitted. S. Yudkoff. Autumn.

YDDH 10200 (= JWSC 20400, LGLN 27300) Elementary Yiddish II. PQ: YDDH 10100 or instructor consent. No auditors permitted. S. Yudkoff. Winter.

YDDH 10300 (= JWSC 20500, LGLN 27400) Elementary Yiddish III. PQ: YDDH 10200 or instructor consent. No auditors permitted. S. Yudkoff. Spring.

YDDH 20100-20200 Intermediate Yiddish I, II.

This sequence combines an intensive review of grammar with the acquisition of more advanced grammatical concepts. Specific attention is paid to regional variants in grammar and orthography. Students develop their reading and writing skills by focusing their attention on the literature of the Yiddish press and the work of Abe Cahan.

YDDH 20100 (= JWSC 27301). Intermediate Yiddish I. PQ: YDDH 10300 or instructor consent. No auditors permitted. S. Yudkoff. Autumn.

YDDH 20200 (= JWSC 27401). Intermediate Yiddish II. PQ: YDDH 10300 or instructor consent. No auditors permitted. S. Yudkoff. Winter.