Spring 2014 Courses

AMS/JDS 323 – America in Judaism
Lance Sussman
Although the idea of an "American Judaism" emerged in the early decades of the nineteenth century, scholars have yet to define this concept in precise terms and explain how it differs from a simpler historical understanding of "Judaism in America." Our seminar will examine the Americanization of Judaism beginning with the earliest transplanted Iberian concepts of Judaism in the "new world" to the transformation of Jewish religious life in the United States. Special attention will be paid to Jewish theology, the rabbinate, gender, denominationalism and the polity of the American synagogue.

ECS/MUS/JDS 380 – Music and European Jewry
Wendy Heller
This course examines the experience of the Jewish musician in Europe from the 17th-century through World War II. We will explore how Jewish music; which had so long isolated Jews from mainstream Christian society; would ultimately provide a path to inclusion; how anti-Semitism shaped the careers of Jewish musicians; and how notions about Jewish music fostered anti-Semitism. Topics include: Jewish musicians in early modern Italy; Sephardic Jews in 18th-century Amsterdam; Mendelssohn and the "sincere conversion"; Victorian London and her Jews; operetta, opera, and symphony in fin-de-siècle Vienna; music during and after the Holocaust.

ECS/COM/JDS 391– Holocaust Testimony
Thomas Trezise
This course focuses on major issues raised by but also extending beyond Holocaust survivor testimony, including the communication of trauma, genres of witnessing, the ethical implications of artistic representation, conflicts between history and memory, the fate of individuality in collective upheaval, the condition of survival itself, and the crucial role played by reception in enabling and transmitting survivors' speech.

JDS 213 – Israeli Literature and Film, 1948-present
Alan Mintz
Through fiction and film, the course explores the key topics in Israeli society and culture: the construction of the sabra, kibbutz and collectivist ideology, the impact of the Holocaust, military service and traumatic memory, gender and women's writing, Sephardim and Mizrahim, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the religion nationalism and ultra-Orthodoxy.

REL/JDS 246 – Ancient Judaism: Alexander to Islam
Martha Himmelfarb
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 BCE.

REL/JDS/GSS 344 – Sex in Ancient Judaism and Christianity
Moulie Vidas
Contemporary discussions about sexuality are filled with Jewish and Christian texts from antiquity. Quotations from the Bible and its ancient interpretations are continuously used to make claims about sexual behavior and sexual desire. Yet these texts themselves come from a very different world, with values, facts and passions of its own. This course examines the classical Jewish and Christian texts on sexuality within their own ancient historical context. Throughout the course, we will emphasize the diversity of positions in antiquity and the broad cultural conversations in which these positions were staked.

REL/JDS 347 – Religion and Law
Alexander Kaye
A critical examination of the relation between concepts of "religion" and "law," as they figure in the modern state. The course will survey theoretical tools for thinking about these issues and their historical development before applying them to case studies in Europe and the Middle East. With the benefit of these comparative studies, and a new historical and philosophical insights, we will then address religion, politics and law in contemporary America.

Previous Semester Courses