Spring 1999 Courses

JWS 201/HUM 223

Introduction to Judaism: Religion, History, Ethics
Starting with ancient Israel's radically new conceptions of the divine, morality, and history, this course explores the complex nature of Judaism and its development as a religion and culture over millennia -- a development marked by internal debates and external challenges to continuity and survival. Emphasis on the traditional bases of Judaism, such as religious beliefs and practices, interpretations of sacred texts, and shared communal values. Attention also to the variety of Jewish encounters with modernity, philosophy, secularism, and non-Jewish cultures.
Professor: Jacob Meskin

REL 244/JWS 244

Introduction to Rabbinic Literature
This course introduces students to the world of the talmudic rabbis, who created the classical and normative literature of Judaism. We will deal with the historical background of Rabbinic Judaism, the concept of the written and the oral Torah, and rabbinic literature proper (Midrash, Mishna, Talmud etc.) as well as with some major rabbinic concepts (God, creations, election of Israel, repentance, redemption). This course will focus on the analysis and discussion of primary sources.
Professor: Peter Schäfer

JWS 402/HUM 402

The Culture of Memory: History, Trauma, and National Identity
The cultural constructions of memory-personal, religious, national, social, and literary, specifically concerning historical trauma. Who controls the past, to what ends, and how is the notion of collective memory politically shaped? Study of personal and official history, oral testimonies, diaries, memoirs, monuments, museums, days of remembrance, and postmodern forms of "counter-memory" (contemporary photography and conceptual art).
Professor: James Young

HIS 359/JWS 359

The Jews in Early Modern Europe
An examination of the participation of European Jewry, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, in the early modern economy and especially of their interactions with the social and cultural forces which reshaped the European world between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Some of the topics: Marrano diaspora after the explusion from Spain; Jewish humanism and historiography during the Renaissance, and its converse in Christian Hebraism; Kabbalistic culture and the challenge of science; Jews in the early modern economy (Court Jews and their culture); marginal cultures of women, youth, and popular venues; the impact of the Sabbatianist movement and its aftermath. The latter part of the course will be devoted to Hasidism in its social and intellectual context, Western European Jewry between tradition and modernity, and finally, the 'Enlightenment' and its context in the 18th century. Above all, is the concern with the interplay of Jewish and European Christian cultures in periods during which each was undergoing considerable change.
Professor: Elliott Horowitz (visiting from Bar-Ilan University, Princeton '75)

HIS 459/JWS 459

Birth, Marriage, and Death: The Jewish Life-Cycle and the Modern Jewish Experience
An examination, combining historical and anthropological perspectives, of the formative moments in the lives of both Western and Oriental Jews and of the relationship between individuals, their families, and their communities as reflected in some of the dominant rites of passage. These major rites of passage are treated as pressure points reflecting the interaction between Jewish traditions, both popular and elite, and the modem world. Relevant field trips and local events will be included.
Professor: Elliott Horowitz (visiting from Bar-Ilan University, Princeton '75)

ENG 384/JWS 384

English Literature and Jewish Culture: "The Jew in English Literature"
The prominent representation of Jews in English literature reflects the cultural ambivalence of a nation that prides itself on an ethical tradition anchored in the Bible and yet is highly uneasy about accommodating all forms of otherness. We will look at degraded or idealized Jewish stereotypes in great variety of texts in order to raise questions about the moral imperatives that lead a dominant culture to single out any group marked for hatred or admiration.
Professors: Claudia Johnson and Ulrich Knoepflmacher

SOC 358/JWS 358

Jewish Communities Across Time and Space
This course will focus on Jewish communities both historical and contemporary with a view to analyzing their role in the survival of the Jewish people. From ancient Jerusalem to medieval Venice and on the special communities of the Diaspora we will explore key institutions, culture patterns, and rituals that typify a people's struggle and resilience. Sociological perspectives and community theory will provide the framework for the analysis.
Professor: Suzanne Keller

NES 210/REL 210

The Hebrew Bible as Literature (in translation): Genesis and Storytelling
Though the bible as whole is a central text in Western culture, the stories of Genesis are the stories we remember. In this course we will try to understand why this is so. Revisit the "first family"-- Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel--and the themes of sexuality and sibling rivalry; Noah's strange journey out of the Flood, and his even stranger relations with his daughters; Jacob's love for two women and Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers. We will explore the bible's minimalist style which nevertheless affords enormous psychological depth. How do we read a "sacred" text? Can we speak of an "author" of Genesis, and how does this author appear in the text: What are the bible's characteristic styles and what do they share with modem literature?
Professor: Barbara Mann

NES 310/COM 310

Modern Jewish Literature Across Cultures
An investigation of relations between modernist literature and modern Jewish identity, focusing on the ways in which Jewishness and modernity conflict and overlap. Topics include: cultural hybridity, bilingualism and the relation between language and identity, history and the place of tradition, the metropolis, universalizing of "the Jew." Students are encouraged to develop their own working definitions of the term modernism, in dialogue with readings, and with each other.
Professor: Barbara Mann

REL 230/JWS 230

Religion and Literature of the Old Testament: Through the Babylonian Exile
An opportunity to read a wide range of the literature of the anthology known as the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. Emphasis on the development of biblical religion against its historical background, including the wider context of the ancient Near East. This semester will cover the period up to and including the Babylonian exile: the formation of the traditions of the books of the Torah, league and monarchy, and prophecy up to the return.
Professor: Martha Himmelfarb

REL 347/JWS 346

Religion and Law
A critical examination of the relation between concepts of "religion" and "law," as they figure in modern Christian and Jewish thought, as well as in contemporary legal theory. If religion gives law its spirit, and law gives religion its structure, then what is their practical relation in both religious and secular life? This course explores the relation between Jewish and Christian conceptions of law, both in their ancient and modern contexts, and the relation between traditional religious and modern secular views of law.
Professor: Leora Batnitzky

NES 208/JWS 208

Jewish Culture 800-1500
Jewish culture had a great flowering between 800-1500, represented by such genres as poetry, Jewish law, midrash and folklore, Bible commentary, mysticism, liturgy, epistolography, history, philosophy, travel literature, ethical wills, drama, all of which influenced early modern and modern Jewish culture. Introduction of some of these great works.
Professor: Mark Cohen

NES 338/JWS 338

The Arab-Israeli Conflict
The couse examines the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict from the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism to the present peace efforts. The readings will concentrate on diplomacy and international relations, but we will also read a few novels and watch a number of films and documentaries.
Professor: Joshua Landis

HEB 102

Elementary Hebrew
Continuation of HEB101. Introduction to structure and vocabulary of Modern Hebrew. Reading, conversation and composition.
Professor: Edna Bryn-Noiman

HEB 107

Intermediate Hebrew
Completion of two-year textbook, Ha-Yesod, and reading and discussion of selected additional texts. (newspaper, stories, etc.) Extensive practice in conversation.
Professor: Edna Bryn-Noiman

HEB 302

Advanced Hebrew
Readings from modern Hebrew, ranging from newspaper articles to short stories and selected poems. Topics to be discussed include the changing self-image of the Israeli, and the special statues of the Hebrew language in Israeli culture. The course develops an active command of spoken and written Hebrew.
Professor: Edna Bryn-Noiman

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