Fall 2011 Courses

JDS 202/REL 202 - Great Books of the Jewish Tradition
Peter Schäfer

Introduces students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Bible, rabbinic midrash, the Talmud, Rashi's commentary on the Torah (probably the most influential Bible commentary among Jews ever), the Zohar (the central work of Kabbalah), and the Guide for the Perplexed (Maimonides's great philosophical work). Students will consider what these works say about the relationship between revelation and interpretation in Jewish tradition and how they come to define that tradition. Two 90-minute classes.

NES 220/HIS 220/JDS 220 - Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle Ages
Mark R. Cohen

An introduction to the history and culture of the Jews in the Middle Ages (under Islam and Christendom) covering, comparatively, such topics as the interrelationship between Judaism and the other two religions, interreligious polemics, political (legal) status, economic role, communal self-government, family life, and cultural developments. Two 90-minute classes.

REL 230/JDS 230 - Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel
Naphtali Meshel

The course is a critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible in its historical, ideological and intellectual setting within the ancient Near East. Central problems in Biblical studies are discussed, such as the historical value of Biblical narrative, the documentary hypothesis, and the process of canonization; and a selection of Biblical texts are read, in translation, from a broader, comparative point of view.  Two lectures, one preceptorial.

REL 241/JDS 241 - Jewish Philosophy in the 20th Century
Michael Morgan

From 1870 to the late 20th century, Jewish thought and philosophy attempted to understand Judaism in response to the developments and crises of Jewish life in the modern world.  In this course we shall explore the responses of figures such as Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Hermann Cohen, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Joseph Soloveitchik, Emil Fackenheim, and Emmanuel Levinas.  Central topics will concern ethics and politics, faith and revelation, redemption and messianism, and the religious responses to catastrophe and atrocity.

JDS 302/NES 302/REL 302 - Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
Naphtali Meshel

Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in its original language.  During the semester, students will learn the script and grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and master the standard dictionaries while reading passages from the Bible itself.  Two 90-minute classes.

GER 306/JDS 304 -  German Intellectual History - Zionism and the Construction of a Jewish Culture
Andreas B. Kilcher

Zionism is not only a political but also, at root, a cultural movement. This is especially the case at the time of its origins circa 1900 in German-Jewish centers such as Vienna, Prague, and Berlin where there raged a controversial discourse on "Jewish culture" that led to a new, post-assimilationist concept of "Cultural Zionism" (Kulturzionismus), and simultaneously to a creative flourishing which proved to be of enormous significance for the political "renaissance" of Judaism. This course we will analyze the arguments and rhetoric of this discourse as well as its leading concepts, images, literary strategies and political semantics.

REL 340/JDS 340 - Ancient Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Martha Himmelfarb

A study of the history of Judaism in ancient Palestine from the emergence of the Torah as an authoritative document under Persian rule in the middle of the fifth century BCE through the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, with an emphasis on the critical reading of primary sources.  Much of the second half of the course is devoted to the Dead Sea Scrolls and their implications for our understanding of ancient Judaism.  Other texts to be studied include 1 Enoch, the Wisdom of Ben Sira, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Daniel, Jubilees, and 4 Ezra.  Two 90-minute classes.

HIS 359/JDS 359 - Modern Jewish History: 1750-Present
Yaacob Dweck

This course surveys the breadth of Jewish experience from the era of the Enlightenment to the contemporary period. Tracing the development of Jewish cultures and communities in Europe and the United States against the background of general history, the course focuses on themes such as the transformation of Jewish identity, the creation of modern Jewish politics, the impact of anti-Semitism, and the founding of the State of Israel. Two 90-minute classes.

COM 362/CHV 362/JDS 362 - Stolen Years: Youth under the Nazis in World War II
Froma Zeitlin

This course examines the experiences of children and childhood in World War II in Europe as recorded, recalled, & represented through a variety of means and genres in text and image/film. These include historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, drama, poetry, and fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), and film, both documentary and feature.  Although we focus on the fate of Jewish children, who were specific targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, we will also attend to others in the occupied countries as well as in Germany itself.  In final projects, however, students may elect to study other theaters of war.

PHI 511/JDS 514 - Pre-Kantian Rationalism
Daniel Garber and Oded Schechter

The course focuses on reading and discussion of the works of one or more of the major rationalist philosophers of the early modern period. Normally the course focuses on the writings of Descartes, Spinoza, and/or Leibniz.

Courses from Previous Semesters