Spring 2007 Courses



REL 351/JDS 351
Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 W


Golem:  The Creation of an Artificial Man
The creation of an artificial human being has been an age-old dream of humankind.  Among its ramifications are the robot, the computer, and the clone.  The seminar will follow the Golem tradition within Judaism throughout history up to its modern offshoots.  It will deal with its origin in the Hebrew Bible, its manifestations in mysticism and magic (e.g. the Golem of Prague), in literature, in film and on stage, in art, children’s books, and the history of science.
Professor: Peter Schäfer


REL 344/JDS 344
Seminar S01  1:30-4:20 T


Jewish Political Thought
Focus on conceptual dimensions of Jewish political tradition.  Questions considered:  To what extent does Judaism have a political tradition?  What constitutes the tradition?  How do Jewish sources address such perennial political issues as authority, legitimacy, types of government, consent, power & justice?  How does the Jewish political tradition compare with other traditions such as those of Greece, Christianity, & modern traditions such as liberalism?  What is the relationship between the State of Israel and the historic Jewish political tradition?
Professor: Alan Mittleman


JDS 315/WOM 310
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 Th


The Family in Jewish Tradition
This seminar will examine the historic flexibility and variability of the Jewish family in the context of selected times and places: Biblical period, early Common Era Diaspora, 20th Century Europe, contemporary U.S. and Israel. The major emphasis in this course will be on the different protocols and forms that may collectively be called the “Jewish Family.”   Among the topics to be covered are the Biblical family, the Rabbinic period of late antiquity, the East European shtetl and subsequent immigration to America before and after World War I, the situation of the family during and after the Holocaust, the experimental family arrangements of the Kibbutz, the role of sexuality as prescribed by Jewish law, and conflicts between traditional morality and contemporary secular life. Application required; concentrators have first priority.
Professor: ( Dr.) Ruth Westheimer


HIS 382/JDS 382
Class C01: 11:00-12:20 MW


Russian-Jewish Diaspora
This course surveys the impact of transnational migration on the making of three of the largest Jewish communities in the twentieth century: in Israel, the US, and the USSR.  Forged in the aftermath of the break-up of the Russian empire and radically transformed by war, revolution, secularization, economic restructuring, and national politics; Israeli, American, and Soviet Jewries have displaced European Jewry from the cultural map.  Through a variety of primary and secondary sources, we will examine the history and contemporary legacy of this momentous shift in Jewish experience and expression.
Professor: Olga Litvak  

HUM 207/COM 207/ENG 390
Lecture L01  1:30-2:50 T, Precept P01 1:30-2:50 Th


The Bible as Literature
The Bible will be read closely in its own right and as an enduring resource for literature and commentary.  The course will cover its forms and genres, including historical narrative, uncanny tales, prophecy, lyric, lament, commandment, sacred biography and apocalypse; its pageant of weird and extraordinary characters; and its brooding intertextuality.  Students will become familiar with a wide variety of biblical interpretation, from the Rabbis to Augustine to Kafka and Kierkegaard.  Cinematic commentary will be included - Bible films, from the campy to the sublime. 
Professor:  Esther Schor 


JDS 345/REL 345
Class  C01: 11:00-12:20 TTh


“Eye-For-An-Eye”: The Nature of Law, Justice, and Legal Literature in the Bible & Ancient Near East
Historically, the law of literal retribution, “an eye for an eye,” has given the Bible a black eye. With one eye trained on ancient Near Eastern counterparts, we will examine the distinct lives this and other biblical laws — like slavery and sacrificial altars — led in literature and in practice.
Professor:  Simeon Chavel  

JDS 381/REL 381
Class  C01: 11:00-12:20 MW


The Biblical King David – Between Myth and History
Shepherd, hero; bandit, international power; musical therapist, prophetic liturgist; home-wrecker, dynastic and cultic founder — David plays the Bible’s richest role. Yet far from confirming his monumental accomplishments, archaeology barely acknowledges his very existence. We will explore these two poles and the historiographical space in between them.
Professor:  Simeon Chavel  

REL 341/JDS 341
Class  C01 3:00-4:20 MW


Judaism in the Greco-Roman Diaspora
This course studies development of Judaism in the diaspora from 33 BCE to 200 CE, including the rich body of literature produced by Egyptian Jewry, the best documented of the ancient diaspora communities, the archaeological and epigraphic evidence for Judaism in Rome and Asia Minor, and the writings of ancient non-Jews on the Jews and Judaism.
Professor:  Martha Himmelfarb

NES 329/REL 342
Class C01: 1:30-4:20 W


Religion in Culture – Culture in Religion: A History of Religion in the Ancient Near East
The geographical setting for this course is the region corresponding roughly to modern Syria, Iraq, Levant, and Turkey from the fourth through the first millennia B.C.E.  Religion represents an essential part of the cultural system of the civilization of the Ancient Near East.  We will explore the world view, cosmologies, concepts of divinity and mankind, destiny mortality, as well as official and personal cults, and the position of the king in his intermediary function between the gods and the people.  Primary sources and a range of scholarly literature will be the basis for our discussion.
Professor:  Beate Pongratz-Leisten

REL 512/JDS 512/HLS 512
Seminar  S01 1:30-4:20 Th


Studies in Greco-Roman Religions: Apocalypticism and Messianism in Rabbinic and Early Byzantine Jewish Literature
This course will consider apocalypticism and messianism in classical rabbinic literature in Hebrew and Aramaic from the Mishnah through the Babylonian Talmud, concluding with several early Byzantine works.  It will examine their relationship to apocalyptic literature from the Second Temple period, contemporary Christian literature, related rabbinic material, and hekhalot literature.
Professor:  Martha Himmelfarb and Peter Schäfer



NES 326/JDS 326/COM 365
Seminar S01: 11:00-12:20 TTh


The Hebrew Poetry of Medieval Spain
The rise of the golden age of Hebrew poetry in Muslim Spain; the Arabic literary background; lyrical, liturgical, and contemplative verse by great poets of the 11th and 13th centuries (Shmuel ha-Nagid, Ibn Gabirol, Judah Halevi, Todros Abulafia, etc.).  Narratives in rhymed prose.  Two weeks devoted to developments outside Spain: the 12th/13th c. martyrdom poems from France and the Rhineland, and, in conclusion, the adoption of Romance forms, especially the sonnet, in the Hebrew poetry of Italy.  Weekly Hebrew readings.  Taught in English.
Professor: Andras Hamori


NES 545
Seminar  S01:  1:30-4:20 Th


Problems in Near Eastern Jewish History
The topic this year is “Dhimma,” the status of Jews and other non-Muslims in Medieval Islam.  In addition to the reading of secondary literature, we will also read and discuss primary sources in class.
Professor:  Mark Cohen 


ECS 321/REL 317/JDS 317
Seminar S01: 7:30-10:20 pm W


The Enlightenment and Its Post-Modern Critics
"El sueño de la razón produce monstruos" (Goya) -- Is it the "sleep" or the "dream" of reason that produces monsters? Not even the authors of the Age of Reason were certain about the answer. They asked the same question that is raised with fresh vigor today: What is Enlightenment? What are the implications of science, universalism, tolerance? In order to develop our own approaches, we will explore key texts of the 18th century on the intertwined issues of religion, universalism and colonialism, and we will juxtapose them with the critical inquiries of the 20th century into the -- finished or unfinished?-- project of the Enlightenment. Particular attention will be paid to the voices of Jewish authors in processes of translation in which the Enlightenment has lost its monolithic traces while retaining its power to present challenging questions.
Professor: Andrea Schatz  


JDS 316/CHV 316/AMS 320
Class C01: 11:00-12:20 TTh


The Ten Commandments in Modern America
In contemporary America, few issues are as hotly debated as religion, especially when it comes to the Ten Commandments. Some citizens, claiming that the Ten Commandments are as American as apple pie, insist they should be displayed as often and as prominently as possible. Others, pointing to the separation of church and state, insist that the Ten Commandments have no place in the public square. And still other Americans are caught in the middle, torn between the Bible and the Constitution. This seminar contextualizes the current debate, which has reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Drawing on literature and the media, the arts and the law, it explores the variety of ways in which this ancient text has left its mark on America of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Professor:  Jenna Weissman Joselit 

NES 313/JDS 313
Class C01: 1:30-2:50 MW


Israeli Culture and Society
This course will examine Israel in social and cultural terms.  The hope is that this approach will help students understand this small but complex country beyond the familiar categories of the political and the strategic.  Topics to be explored include Israel’s national narrative, secular/religious issues, gender, the kibbutz, and the army.  Film, literature, art, and music will be brought to bear upon these topics.  There will be several guest speakers.
Professor:  James Diamond  

COM 362/CHV 362/JDS 362
Seminar  S01: 1:30-4:20 Th,  Films 7:00 pm M


Stolen Years: Youth Under the Nazis in World War II
This course examines the experiences of childhood and adolescence under the Nazis in World War II in Europe as witnessed, remembered, and represented through a variety of means and genres in text and image.  Among these are historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), and film (documentary and feature) of 1st and 2nd generations.  Although we focus on the fate of Jewish youth, 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, students may elect to study other theaters of war. 
Professor:  Froma Zeitlin  

WWS 466/NES 466/POL 466
Seminar  S01: 1:30-4:20 M


Special Topics in Public Affairs:  The Arab-Israeli Conflict
This course examines the history and dynamics of the struggle between the Jewish and Palestinian national movements for sovereignty and control over territory each claims as its historic homeland.  The course will review the inter-state dimension; the competition between national movements; wars and their aftermath; and diplomatic efforts to achieve peace.
Professor:  Daniel C. Kurtzer  


HEB 102
Class C01: 10:00-10:50 MTWThF


Elementary Hebrew II
Continuation of Hebrew 101 focusing on the structure, grammar, and vocabulary of the Hebrew language. We’ll be reading easy texts from Israeli newspapers and from the textbooks.  We’ll be writing more compositions and be giving presentations about various topics in Hebrew.  
Professor:  Esther Robbins


HEB 107
Class C01:  11:00-11:50 MTWThF


Intermediate Hebrew II
Completion of two-year textbook, Ha-Yesod, and reading and discussion of selected additional texts (newspapers, stories, poems, etc).  Extensive practice in conversation, writing, and reading Hebrew literature.   
Professor: Esther Robbins

HEB 302
Class C01:  1:30-2:50 TTh


Advanced Hebrew Language and Style II
Readings in Hebrew culture, exploring the underlying tensions in identity among Israeli Jews: tensions in religious identity (i.e. Ashkenazim vs. Sephardim/Ultra-Orthodox [Chareidim] vs. Secularists), political identity, age/generational identity, and personal identity.  We will analyze these issues within the context of contemporary short stories, modern poetry, newspaper articles, and cinema/theater.     
Professor: Esther Robbins