Spring 2012 Courses

AMS 338/ JDS 336/ HIS 450 - The Invention of the Promised Land: American Jewish History
Yaacob Dweck

Over the past three and a half centuries Jewish immigrants have described America both as "the promised land" and "the land of impurity." This course examines these conflicting descriptions as it explores developments in Jewish life in America from the mid seventeenth century through the late twentieth century.

JDS 221/ PHI 221 - Philosophy After Auschwitz
Oded Schechter

Focusing on the growing philosophical and theological literature about the Nazi concentration camps in general and about Auschwitz in particular, this seminar considers the challenges that the Nazi genocide brings to philosophy, theology, and conceptions of morality and politics. Sub topics will include: The theological questions Auschwitz poses to philosophy, Moral and political philosophy after Auschwitz, Representation and language after Auschwitz, and The concept of the Absolute after Auschwitz.

SLA 347/ JDS 337 - Jewish Topics in East European Cinema
Irena G. Gross

Selected Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian movies will serve in this interdisciplinary seminar as a basis for discussion of Jewish pre-World War II life, the extermination of Jews during the war and the difficulties of post-war Jewish life in Eastern Europe. We will address the history of Jewish life in the region, film as social medium, the difficulties of representation, the relationship between various kinds of arts (film adaptation of literature, art in film, film about art), and moral issues linked to the depiction of war and persecution.

JDS 335/ NES 335 - The Jews of the Islamic World: From Muhammad to Modernity
Elisha R. Russ-Fishbane

The current state of Jewish-Islamic relations is fraught with mutual suspicion and competing historical narratives that are manifest as much in the religious as in the political arena. In the midst of this debate, it is sometimes forgotten that Jews have for centuries been a vital presence in the Islamic world and have contributed to Islamic civilization right up to modern times. This course explores the complex historical relationship of the Jews of the Islamic world from the rise of Islam in the seventh century to the mass exodus of Middle Eastern and North African Jewry from their ancestral communities in modern times.

NES 338 / JDS 338 / HIS 349 - The Arab-Israeli Conflict
Cyrus Schayegh

This course examines the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as the development of the Zionist and Palestinian society. While linked, these themes need separate study; and as they are contentious, NES 338 stresses historiographic debates and primary sources. We study the rise of two unequally structured, yet internally stratified national societies and their mutual ties and perceptions; effects of violence and traumas; wars and peace initiatives; and economic as well as regional and global contexts. The course peaks in a war/diplomacy game, performance in which is part of your final grade.

REL 333/ JDS 333 - Jewish Mysticism and Magic in Late Antiquity
Peter Schäfer

The course traces the development of Jewish mysticism from its origins in the Bible (Ezekiel) to Merkavah mysticism, the first full-fledged mystical movement in ancient Judaism. We follow the dangerous ascent of the few initiates to the divine throne in heaven, their vision and participation in the heavenly liturgy. Since mysticism and magic are closely interrelated in antiquity, special emphasis will be put on the magical aspects of Jewish mysticism.

REL 307/ JDS 307 - Family Law in Roman Judea-Palestine
Michael Meerson

We will focus on main components of matrimonial law, such as the act of marriage, adoption, maintenance, inheritance, and guardianship. Our purpose will be the comprehension of Jewish documents composed in Roman Judea-Palestine, and of legal principles that governed the composition of these documents. We will proceed towards this goal through the diverse background of Hellenistic and Roman jurisprudence, ranging from the city-state codes to the Corpus Iuris Civilis. The course is built around case studies derived from the documents of the "Cave of the Letters" in Judean Desert and Egyptian juristic papyri as comparative material.

JDS 303/ NES 311 / REL 303 - Elementary Biblical Hebrew II
Naphtali S. Meshel

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.

ANT 221/ LAS 28 /JDS 222 - The Anthropology of Migration and Diasporas
Natasha Zaretsky

Mass flows of migration define the history of modern nations. Indeed, policies towards immigrants and refugees reflect how nations struggle to define themselves. Migrants' experience reflects these complexities--challenging borders while reaffirming the continued significance of national boundaries. We will explore migration from the perspective of anthropology and ethnographic approaches to the experience of those moving across national borders as they negotiate belonging, citizenship, and identity. We also explore key themes and frameworks in the study of migrant experience -- as diaspora, transnationalism, globalization, and sovereignty.

Previous Semester Courses