Spring 2009 Courses



HUM 207/COM 207/ENG 390
Lecture L01:  1:30-2:50 T, Classes C01-03: 1:30-2:50 Th, Class C04: 1:30-2:50 W


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 interpretations, 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 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


ENG 365/JDS 365/AMS 365
Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 W


Topics in American Literature:  American Jewish Writers
Reading fiction, poetry, essays, and graphic novels from the 18th to 21st centuries, we will examine how American Jewish writers have left a mark both on American letters and Jewish literature.  Topics include immigration and assimilation; city Jews; Jewish feminism; secularity vs. religious observance; and the Jew in multicultural America. Texts include films, video, and song lyrics as well as Yiddish-language poetry in English translation.
Professor:  Esther Schor


JDS 345/REL 345
Class C01: 1:30-2:50 MW


The Laws of Moses
What are the laws of Moses?  What did they mean in their original context?  How do they measure against laws in the world around them?  This course will look at such laws and institutions as sacrifice, slavery, eye-for-an-eye, Sabbath, dietary laws, and more; as well as their literary representation and its significance.
Professor:  Simeon Chavel

JDS 386/REL 386
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 T


God and Creation in Ancient Judaism
This seminar will be a close study of the variety of textual sources dealing with the subject of creation and cosmology in Hellenistic and especially rabbinic Judaism, and also selected early Christian materials (with ancient Jewish sediments). Traditions will be examined exegetically, with an emphasis on comparative intra-cultural and interdisciplinary analysis.
Professors:  Michael Fishbane and Peter Schäfer



NES 408/JDS 408/COM 365
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 T


The Hebrew Poetry of Medieval Spain
This course covers 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.); and narratives in rhymed prose.  Two weeks will be 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 M


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



REL 311
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 T


Religious Existentialism
An in-depth study of existentialist philosophies of, among others, Søren Kierkegaard, Simone Weil, Martin Heidegger, Hans Jonas, and Emmanuel Levinas.  This course will focus on their respective arguments about the relations between philosophy and existence, reason and revelation, divine law and love, philosophy, religion, and politics, and Judaism and Christianity.
Professor: Leora Batnitzky  

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


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

PHI 332/JDS 332
Lecture L01:  3:30-4:20 MW, Precept P01:  TBA


Early Modern Philosophy
This course will address the work of Descartes and his critics, including Spinoza and Leibniz; readings from their major writings.
Professor:  Catherine Wilson

NES 338/JDS 338
Lecture L01: 1:30-2:50 TTh, P01: 3:30-4:30 Th


The Arab-Israeli Conflict
This course studies the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict up to 1967.  Due to its contentious theme, it stresses historiographic problems and primary sources; also, it looks at Israeli and Palestinian societies as much as the conflict between them.  Questions include the ideological vs. the practical roots of, and religious/secular elements in, Zionism and Palestinian nationalism; politico-economic links between the two societies; breaks in their social and/or ethnic composition; the effects of collective traumas and warfare on socio-political structures and gender; and the role of foreign powers and regional states.
Professor:  Cyrus Schayegh

JDS 399/NES 399
Seminar S01:  11:00-12:20 TTh


Modern Israel
This course examines the formation and development of modern Israel. The course will follow the transition in Israel from a conformist society dominated by Zionist ideology to a society seriously questioning its values, ideals, and norms. It will focus on these changes in a wide range of sources: political and diplomatic, cultural, literary, cinematic, and more. The course will focus on the ideological origins of Zionist ideology as well as on the role of the Holocaust; the Arab-Jewish conflict; the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi and secular-religious divide in the development of contemporary Israeli society.
Professor:  Eran Kaplan

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


JDS 303/REL 303/NES 311
Class C01: 11:00- 12:20 MW


Elementary Biblical Hebrew II
Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in its original language.  During the semester, students will continue studying grammar, and developing vocabulary. Upon completing the grammar textbook, students will read large passages from the Bible from all genres.
Professor: Simeon Chavel


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 T, 7:30-8:50 Th


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

HEB 402
Class C01:  1:30-4:20 F


Coexistence through Theater and Film
An advanced language and culture course in Hebrew will develop further proficiency in all skills through discussions and oral presentations of authentic materials and media.  The objective is to investigate how playwrights and filmmakers deal with socio-cultural issues of coexistence.  In addition to reading the plays, students will watch DVDs of the performances from the unique bilingual theater in Jaffa.  Lab work will also be assigned.   
Professor: Esther Robbins