Spring 2011 Courses

ENG 356/JDS 365/AMS 365: Topics in American Literature: American Jewish Writers
How did American Jewish writers manage to leave a mark both on American letters and on traditions of Jewish literature? And when were they "too Jewish" for American readers and "too American" for their fellow Jews? We'll address these questions while considering the historic sweep of American Jewish writing from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Texts include mostly fiction but also poems, essays, graphic novels and films. We will consider immigration and assimilation; bilingualism; city Jews; the holocaust from afar; women breaking and revising traditions; secularity and religious observance; and the role of Jews in multicultural America.
Professor: Esther H. Schor Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 T

JDS 303/NEW 311/REL 303: 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: Naphtali S. Meshel Class C01: 9:00 - 9:50 MWF

JDS 320/REL 395: The Bible in Modern Political Thought
In this course we will discuss the Bible's status in modern political thought. The aim of the seminar is to explore the following issues: To what extent is the Bible admitted in modern political thought? What is authority of the Bible? What are the new ways of reading the Bible? Is reading and interpreting the Bible a political act? Can we speak about modern European political thought as independent of the Bible? Is the Bible a book for secular politics? We will discuss religious opposition to the Bible as a political authority.
Professor: Oded Schechter Seminar S01: 1:30 - 4:20 W

JDS 355/NES 355/HIS 356: Between Swords and Stones: Jerusalem, a History
For 3000 years the city that is holy to all three monotheistic religions has known little peace and tranquility and has been the site of wars, conquests and division. By drawing on historical, literary, religious and cinematic sources, this course will explore the history of Jerusalem from antiquity to the modern period. It will examine its place in the religious imagination of Jews, Muslims and Christians and trace the political history of a city that continues to be one of the most inflammable places on earth. The course will look at the conditions in today's 'united' Jerusalem and explore the different contingencies to bring peace to it.
Professor: Eran Kaplan Class C01 11:00 - 12:20 TTh

NES 338/JDS 338: 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 at the conflict between them. Questions include the ideological vs. 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 Lecture L01: 3:00 - 4:20 MW

NES 398/JDS 398: Clash of Civilizations? Perceptions of East and West from Medieval Period to the Contemporary World
Among the most pressing issues of our time is the perceived divide between the Islamic "East" and the European and American "West." As this course explores, the meeting of Islamicate and western civilizations has a long, complicated history. We shall examine the roots of this tension and the ways in which the two perceived one another from the Middle Ages to modernity through classic works of literature and art. The seminar will further examine the historical development of the East-West divide and the relationship between religion and culture in the formation of identity.
Professor: Elisha R. Russ-Fishbane Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 W

NES 408/JDS 408/COM 365: The Hebrew Poetry of Medieval Spain
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 and 13th century martyrdom poems from France and the Rhineland, and, in conclusion, the adoption of Romance forms, especially the sonnet, in the Hebrew poetry of Italy.
Professor: Andras P. Hamori Seminar S01 1:30-4:20 Th

REL 243/JDS 243: Purity and Sacrifice in Ancient Israel
The course will examine two interrelated topics in the study of ancient Israelite religion--purity and sacrifice--from a wide range of perspectives, including text-historical, archeological, anthropological, and cognitive. The course will try to answer such questions as: Is impurity evil? Are there universal patterns in ritual? And do rituals have meaning? Our primary sources will be the Hebrew Bible, the Qumran Scrolls, and early rabbinic literature. The value of comparative research in these fields will be demonstrated through the examination of texts on purity and sacrifice from the ancient Near East and from India.
Professor: Naphtali S. Meshel Class C 01: 11:00 - 12:20 MW

REL 246/JDS 246: Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam
This course offers an introduction to the development of ancient Judaism during the eventful millennium plus 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 BCE. The weekly lecture and assigned readings will provide historical context, but the focus of the course will be on primary texts that reflect the major developments in ancient Judaism, to be treated during a two-hour precept.
Professor: Martha Himmelfarb Lecture L01: 12:30 - 1:20 M, P01 1:30 - 3:20 W

REL 305/JDS 305: Ancient Magic in Theory and Practice
The course will examine a broad spectrum of artifacts crafted and written by practitioners-magicians in the Late Antique Mediterranean. Starting with Greek Magical Papyri and amulets, we shall discover the esoteric world of secret signs and language, and the magical use of plants and animals. We shall try to reconstruct and explain a number of magical rituals described in papyri and amulets, learning our abilities and limitations in understanding those for whom the magic was real
Professor: Michael Meerson Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 T

REL 315/AAS 316/JDS 314: Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophical, Theological, and Political Implications
This course explores the meanings and implications of claims that "Athens" and "Jerusalem" constitute the two poles of Western Civilization. Focusing on classical and pre-modern philosophical, literary, and religious texts, the first part of the course considers the history of the distinction between Athens and Jerusalem for understanding different conceptions of reason, revelation, justice, evil, and free will. The second part of the course turns to modern political appropriations of "Athens and Jerusalem" in arguments about the meanings of modernity, social justice, multiculturalism and higher education, and definitions of the "West."
Professor: Leora F. Batnitzky, Cornel R. West Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 W

SLA 318/ECS 318/JDS 318: Russian Jewish Renaissance
This course will focus on Russian Jewish visual and literary culture from the end of the 19th c. through the 20th. We will examine the ways in which it represented Jewish identity; reflected changing notions of selfhood and nationhood; and refracted anti-Semitic predispositions. Most of the course will unpack the impact of the Russian revolution and the transformation of a traditional, pious, and provincial Jewish ecosystem into an urban-dwelling, Russian-speaking secular society
Professor: Anna W. Katsnelson Seminar S01:1:30-4:20 T

WWS 482/JDS 482: Special Topics in Public Affairs - Israeli Extremism and the Search for Peace
In 1995 Israel's prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated at a peace rally by a religious student. Rabin's assassination helped derail the peace process; it also exposed deep currents of political extremism in Israel. This course explores the roots of Israeli political radicalism. It examines the impact of the Arab-Jewish conflict on Israeli politics and assesses the way the '67 War impacted political alignments in Israel. The course considers how political radicalism in Israel reacted to the peace efforts of the '90s and it looks at how in the 21st century, with the rise of fundamentalism globally, political radicalism impacts Israel.
Professor: Eran Kaplan Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 W

Courses from Previous Semesters