Courses

Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2024
Everyday Writing in Medieval Egypt, 600-1500 (CD or HA)
Subject associations
NES 389 / MED 389 / JDS 389 / HIS 289

This class explores medieval Islamic history from the bottom up -- through everyday documents from Egypt used by men and women at all levels of society: state decrees, personal letters, business letters, contracts, court records, wills, and accounts. Even the smallest details of these everyday writings tell us big things about the world in which they were written. Each week examines a different topic in medieval Egyptian social history. We'll cover politics, religion among Muslims, Christians, and Jews, social class, trade, family relationships, sex, taxes, and death, among other subjects.

Instructors
Eve Krakowski
Fall 2024
Jerusalem Contested: A City's History from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives (CD or HA)
Subject associations
NES 221 / JDS 223

Jerusalem is considered a holy city to three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this course, students will learn the history of Jerusalem from its founding in pre-biblical times until the present. Over the course of the semester, we will ask: What makes space sacred and how does a city become holy? What has been at stake - religiously, theologically, politically, nationally - in the many battles over Jerusalem? Is a city that is so deeply contested doomed to endless tension or does history offer more hopeful precedents?

Instructors
Jonathan M. Gribetz
Fall 2024
Jews Across the Americas (CD or HA)
Subject associations
AMS 257 / JDS 257 / REL 205

This course examines the diversity of the American Jewish experiences in South America, North America, and the Caribbean. Moving from the early colonial era to the present, we will examine Jewish life using historical, literary, religious, and cultural evidence. This course offers an introduction to the methods of digital humanities and will culminate in each student creating an online digital exhibit using ArtSteps. Special attention will be paid to the experiences of women as well as multiracial Jews and Jews of color.

Fall 2024
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (EM or HA)
Subject associations
REL 244 / NES 244 / MED 246 / JDS 245

This course traces the emergence of the traditions we now call Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: their first communities, texts, images, and values. Students will learn to examine their histories critically, identify patterns across traditions, uncover the way these traditions shaped one another, trace the developments of beliefs and practices from their earlier forms, and analyze the social and political factors that informed these developments.

Instructors
Moulie Vidas
Fall 2024
The Bible and its Early Interpreters (HA)
Subject associations
REL 411 / JDS 412

This course offers a close encounter with biblical passages and their reception in other ancient texts (including those collected in the Bible). By tracking how stories, norms, and ideas transformed as they were read in antiquity, we will develop analytical strategies sensitive to the multiple meanings, possibilities and problems that are inherent in these passages. We will also relate the different interpretive moves to their broader historical and literary contexts, examining the interaction between the development of different readings and social, political, and cultural changes.

Instructors
Liane M. Feldman
Moulie Vidas
Fall 2024
The Bible and Modernity: Literature, Philosophy, Politics (EM)
Subject associations
REL 314 / JDS 314 / HUM 322 / COM 366

This course considers the diverse, and at times contradictory, ways in which modernity has both shaped and been shaped by the reception of the Hebrew Bible. Focusing on the books of Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, and Job, the course explores how the Bible inspired an array of modern writers, philosophers, and political theorists, from Machiavelli to Shakespeare to Melville to Kierkegaard to Camus to Baldwin to Morrison, and beyond.

Instructors
Leora F. Batnitzky
Fall 2024
The Lost World of Ancient Judaism (HA)
Subject associations
REL 246 / JDS 246 / CLA 248 / NES 246

The diverse world of ancient Judaism was "lost" for centuries. Major archaeological findings and the "discovery" of ancient Jewish works that were preserved by Christian scribes, reveal a rich mosaic of thriving Jewish communities in Egypt, Babylonia, Judea, the Galilee, and across the Mediterranean. They established temples and synagogues, created splinter groups, and fought foreign empires. They also wrote stories and philosophical works, legal contracts, and healing amulets. In this course we will examine sophisticated literary sources alongside artifacts of day-to-day life, to catch a glimpse of the lives and culture of ancient Jews.

Instructors
Yedidah Koren
Fall 2024
Zionism: Jewish Nationalism Before and Since Statehood (EM or HA)
Subject associations
NES 373 / JDS 373

Are the Jews a separate nation? Should they have their own country? Where should it be located? This course investigates why Jews and non-Jews alike began asking these questions in the late eighteenth century and explores the varieties of answers they offered. The course's focus is on those who insisted that the Jews were a nation that required a state in the Jews' historic homeland. We will try to understand why these people - known collectively as Zionists - came to these conclusions, and why many others disagreed. The final part of the course will address debates within the State of Israel about what it means to be a "Jewish state."

Instructors
Jonathan M. Gribetz