Fall 2016 Courses

Comics, the Graphic Novels, and the American Jew
Paul Levitz
JDS 385

How did comic books seize upon and express the Jewish bicultural experience in twentieth century America? How did the ambitions of comics' greatest Jewish creators shape the medium's fantasy traditions and drive artistic self-expression in the graphic novel? This seminar combines literary and historical approaches to investigate the tension between comics' genre storytelling and its creators' self-expression. We will examine the evolution of the comic into its mature form, the graphic novel, through Jewish and American social, political and sexual perspectives.

Introduction to Jewish Cultures
Lital Levy
JDS 203

This introductory course focuses on the cultural syncretism and the global diversity of Jewish experience. It provides a comparative understanding of Jewish culture from antiquity to the present, examining how Jewish culture has emerged through the interaction of Jews and non-Jews, engaging a wide spectrum of cultures throughout the Jewish world, and following representations of key issues such as sexuality or the existence of God in different eras. The course's interdisciplinary approach covers Bible and Talmud, Jewish mysticism, Zionism, Jewish cinema, music, food, modern literature, and graphic arts. All readings and films are in English.

Stolen Years: Youth under the Nazis in World War II
Froma Zeitlin
JDS 362

This course examines the gendered experiences of childhood & adolescence under the Nazis in World War II as witnessed, remembered, and represented in texts and images through a variety of genres and different nationalities. We include historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), photos, and film (documentary & feature) of 1st and 2d generations. While we focus on the fate of Jewish youth, who were deliberate targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, we will also attend to others in the occupied countries. In final projects, students may elect to study other theaters of war.

Great Books of the Jewish Tradition
David Sclar
JDS 202

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including Bible, the rabbinic midrash, the Talmud, Rashi's commentary on the Torah, Mishneh Torah, the Zohar, and the Haggadah. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
Judah Kraut
JDS 302

Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible in the original language. During the semester, students will learn the script and the grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and read a selection of Biblical passages. The course is designed for beginners with little or no previous knowledge of the language. Students with extensive experience in the language should contact the instructor about course alternatives.

The Five Books of Moses
Baruch Schwartz
JDS 217

The Five Books of Moses (collectively: the Torah, or the Pentateuch), as viewed in modern, critical scholarship, are the key to understanding the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. This course will focus on the content, themes and literary features of the Pentateuch in its historical context, in light of its ancient Near Eastern background, and in its role within the canon of Scripture. Attention will be given to the process of authorship, composition, transmission and ultimate acceptance of these writings in the formative period of Judaism.

Ancient Judaism: Alexander to Islam
Martha Himmelfarb
JDS 246

This course offers an introduction to the development of ancient Judaism during the eventful millennium from the establishment of the Torah as the constitution of the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE--an event that some have seen as marking the transition from biblical religion to Judaism--to the completion of the other great canonical Jewish document, the Babylonian Talmud, in perhaps the sixth century CE.

Courses from Previous Semesters