An introduction to some of the major works of Jewish thought and literature that survive from antiquity until the early modern era. We'll closely read a wide array of primary texts in translation, from the Hebrew Bible to Spinoza, discuss the worlds in which the people who produced them lived, and consider some of the ways in which they add up to an ongoing tradition across time and space - and some of the ways in which they don't. Students with reading knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic are warmly encouraged to use them, but this is optional; nor prior knowledge of Judaism is required.
For over two centuries, Lower East Side tenements have housed immigrant and migrant families. Since 1988, the Tenement Museum has researched and told the stories of Jewish, German, Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican, Black and Chinese families, connecting individual family stories to larger historical questions. This course offers the unique opportunity to dive deeply into the research and methodology. What sources can we use to tell the story of "ordinary people," and how do those sources change over time? How do contemporary questions of American identity connect to the stories that we tell?
Jerusalem is considered a holy city to three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this course, students will learn the history of Jerusalem from its founding in pre-biblical times until the present. Over the course of the semester, we will ask: What makes space sacred and how does a city become holy? What has been at stake - religiously, theologically, politically, nationally - in the many battles over Jerusalem? Is a city that is so deeply contested doomed to endless tension or does history offer more hopeful precedents?
Modern Hebrew literature evolved as a poetic struggle over the boundaries of Israeliness, Hebrew language, and Jewish identity; it sprang up on fault lines of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, and religion. This course takes us on a journey through Hebrew literature and its relationship with Israeli society from early Jewish immigration to Palestine through the spoken word archive of contemporary Mizrahi poets. We also encounter pioneering queer authors, Palestinian-Israelis, and a Vietnamese-Israeli poet. Readings are supplemented by pivotal films. All readings and films are in English translation; knowledge of Hebrew not required.
This course attempts to understand the breadth and variety of the modern Jewish experience through the interpretation of primary and secondary sources.
An introduction to medieval Near Eastern legal cultures that focuses on the intertwined development of Jewish and Islamic law from late antiquity until the twelfth century. We consider both legal writings such as codes and responsa and evidence for practices in state and communal courts. Geared both to students interested in legal history and to students interested in using legal texts and documents for general historical research.
This course explores the long and rich tradition of Jewish image making and the history of Jewish thought on the power of images in religious life, from the Hebrew Bible through the end of antiquity. We concentrate particularly on Jewish engagement with the visual cultures of the surrounding Greek, Roman, and Christian societies. In spring 2023, we will focus on the new archaeological discoveries in the Roman village of Huqoq in the Galilee, which have transformed our understanding of the place of art in Judaism. Students who take the course will have the opportunity to participate in the Huqoq Excavation Project in summer 2023.
Trauma has become a part of our everyday lives with the pandemic, mass shootings, police brutality, etc. What is the role of researchers, reporters, filmmakers, and museum workers in mitigating the effects of trauma on individuals and communities? Throughout this course, students will learn how to conduct trauma informed interviews, interpret, and present their findings in a safe and respectful way that can facilitate healing rather than increase the pain. By the end of the course, students will be expected to develop their own interview-based research project.