Jewish Studies

Director: Andrew Bush (Hispanic Studies); Steering Committee: John Ahern (Italian), Peter Antelyes (English), Susan H. Brisman (English); Marc Michael Epstein (Religion), Rachel Friedman (Classics), Judith L. Goldstein (Anthropology), Luke C. Harris (Political Science), Maria Höhn (History), William Hoynes (Sociology), Deborah Dash Moore (Religion), Tova Weitzman (Religion), Debra Zerfman (Psychology);Participating Faculty: Betsy Halpern–Amaru (Religion), Peter Antelyes, Pinar Batur–Vander Lippe (Sociology), Nancy Bisaha (History), Susan H. Brisman, Andrew Bush, Miriam Cohen (History), Andrew Davison (Political Science), Marc Michael Epstein, Rachel Friedman, Judith L. Goldstein, Luke C. Harris, Maria Höhn (History), Lynn LiDonnici (Religion), J. Bertrand Lott (Classics), Marque Miringoff (Sociology), Deborah Dash Moore, MacDonald Moore, David Schalk (History), Tova Weitzman.

Jewish Studies is a multidisciplinary approach to the diversity of the history and culture of Jews in Western and non–Western societies. This approach involves the study of the creation and reproduction of cultures in Israel, the Diaspora, and multi–ethnic societies in the ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary world.

Requirements for Concentration: 12 units, including 1) Jewish Studies 101, 201, and 301, 2) 4 units of college–level Hebrew or its equivalent (no more than 4 units of Hebrew may be applied toward the concentration), 3) 2 additional courses on the 300–level, drawn from either Jewish Studies offerings or the list of approved courses (including Hebrew 305), 4) remaining units from courses, drawn from Jewish Studies offerings, approved courses, or Jewish Studies in Comparative Contexts. Students are encouraged to explore complementary courses in a variety of disciplines. After consulting with the director, students should prepare a proposal for the major in Jewish Studies to be approved by the director and the Steering Committee. Students choosing a concentration are encouraged to explore language, literature and texts, religious traditions, history, society, and culture.

No more than 3 units per semester from study away can be counted toward the concentration. Jewish Studies recommends that students interested in the Junior Year Away Program in Israel begin the study of Hebrew in the freshman year.

After declaring a concentration, no required courses may be elected NRO.

Senior–Year Requirements: Senior Seminar (Jewish Studies 301). The Senior Thesis or Project (Jewish Studies 300) is optional, but must be elected by students to be considered for Honors in the Program. The thesis or project should reflect the multidisciplinary orientation of the Program. It will be graded Distinction, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory.

Requirements for the Correlate Sequence: 6 units, including Jewish Studies 101, a 300–level seminar in Jewish Studies, and four other courses, only one of which can be Jewish Studies 290 or Jewish Studies in Comparative Contexts. At least two courses at the 300–level are required. Students are urged to complete one year of college–level study in Hebrew or the equivalent. Up to two units of Hebrew may be counted toward the correlate sequence. After consulting with the director, students should prepare a proposal for the correlate sequence in Jewish Studies to be approved by the director and the Steering Committee. Students choosing a correlate sequence are encouraged to explore language, literature and texts, religious traditions, history, society, and culture. The specific shape of a student's program should reflect student interest in a disciplinary field, such as history, literature, anthropology, religion, and should complement concentration requirements. Jewish Studies recommends that students interested in the Junior Year Away Program in Israel begin the study of Hebrew in the freshman year. No more than 2 units from study abroad can be counted toward the correlate sequence.

Course Offerings


I. Introductory

101. Jewish Identity/Jewish Politics: An Introduction to Jewish Studies (1)

Multidisciplinary introduction to the theoretical and methodological bases for the study of the diversity of Jewish culture. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of geography, gender, religious status, race and class in the construction of Jewish identity in interaction with surrounding communities, through the study of primary sources in historical context, religious culture, social life, as well as art and literature produced by and about Jews. Mr. Epstein.

110. Jerusalem Above/Jerusalem Below (1)

Jerusalem has captured the imagination of Jews, Christians and Muslims for the past three millenia. This course explores the city's fascination through classical texts, historical accounts and rereadings of the idea and ideal of Jerusalem through the eyes of guest lecturers utilizing tools, techniques, and resources from fields as diverse as literature, geography, history, architecture, sociology, and ethnography. The course includes an optional study trip to Jerusalem during Spring Break. Mr. Epstein.

180. Keywords and Codewords (1)

After the Second World War several words used primarily with reference to Jewish experiences were drawn into wider debates. Holocaust, ghetto, and diaspora became hot–buttons. Gradually they were taken up as terms of choice for referencing issues central for African Americans and post colonial emigres. We look at the ways in which terms are hitched to our trains of thought; and we examine the freight we ask such "keywords" to haul. We start with books by Raymond Williams and Gary Wills; move on to the movies Whoopee!and Blazing Saddles; and conclude with essays, religious and political speeches from the 1960's and 1980's. Mr. Moore.

[183. Ancient Mythologies] (1)

(Same as Classics 183) Ms. Friedman.

Not offered in 2001/02.


II. Intermediate

201. Jewish Textuality: Sources and Subversions (1)

Jewsmale and female, traditional and radical, East and Westhave preserved, read, reread and subverted their classical texts in a variety of ways through their various cultural and personal lenses throughout history. This course introduces specific and significant themes in Jewish thought and culture (all of which have practical and political implications today), and traces them from antiquity, through postmodernity, through study of the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, and Midrash, and modern texts drawn from a variety of disciplines. Mr. Bush.

Prerequisite: Jewish Studies 101 or by permission.

221. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as Hebrew 221) An examination of modern and postmodern Hebrew literature in English translation. The course will focus on Israeli voices of men, women, Jews, Arabs, Ashkenazim and Sephardim to investigate such topics as memory, identity, alienation, the "other," community, exile. Authors may include Dalia Ravikovitch, Zelda, Nathan Zach, Yehudah Amichai, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, David Grossman, Anton Shammas, Savion Liebrecht and Ruth Almog. Ms. Weitzman.

280. The Holocaust: Dairies (1/2)

The Shoah, or Holocaust, the systematic effort by the Nazis to exterminate the Jews of Europe, was documented from the very midst of the experience by some of those who lived through or died in it. This course concentrates on diaries written during the Shoah itselfincluding accounts in hiding, in the ghettos, and in the excruciating visibility of Nazi Germany itselfgrappling with the confusions, reflections and terrors recorded therein. The course consists of a series of lectures, including distinguished guest speakers, and discussion group meetings. Mr. Bush.

290. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)


III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all 300–level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit at the 200–level or permission of instructor.

300. Senior Thesis or Project (1)

Optional for students concentrating in the program. Must be elected for student to be considered for Honors in the program.

Permission required.

301. Senior Seminar in Jewish Studies (1)

Addressing developments in Jewish Studies, the seminar affords students the opportunity to present their own scholarly work in the field and to place modern Jewish studies in the context of other contemporary intellectual developments. Topics may vary from year to year, but will reflect program issues such as history and memory, cultural contact and conflict, practice and representation. Ms. Goldstein.

Open only to seniors.

Permission required for non–majors.

315. Jews, Jewish Identity and the Arts (1)

This course examines the relationship of Jews with the arts from ancient times through the postmodern period. Topics addressed include the definition of Jewish art and the attitude of Jewish tradition toward art, iconism and aniconism, Jews as artists, Jewish patronage, and Jewish scholarship concerning both Jewish and non–Jewish art. We discuss the role of identity politics in the artistic and art historical world, as well as self–definition, self–presentation and self–hatred among artists, patrons and scholars of art history. Mr. Epstein.

[340. Classical Jewish Culture] (1)

This course considers classical Jewish culture as it existed prior to Emancipation and, in some cases, has endured into the present. Changing yearly topics. Ms. Moore.

Not offered in 2001/02.

350. Confronting Modernity: Critical Utopias in the 1960's (1)

The agenda of the Camelot years included an explicit search for National Purpose. Briefly the path led through commune movements and idealistic civil engagement. This course examines how a group of mostly marginal Jewish intellectuals was wrestling with utopian and distopian dimensions of community and culture. The class reads material by Herbert Marcuse, a living link between the Germany of Kurt Weill and the U.S.A. of Bob Dylan. We also examine writings by other Brandeis scholars, including Lewis Coser, Maurice Stein, Abraham Maslow, Frank E. Manuel, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Mr. Moore.

399a or b. Advanced Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Approved Courses

Classics 219     The Roman Empire: From the Julio–Claudian Era through the Fall (1)

Hebrew 105–106     Elementary Hebrew (1) 
Hebrew 205a     Continuing Hebrew (1) 
Hebrew 206b     Continuing Hebrew (1) 
Hebrew 298     Independent Work in Hebrew (1) 
Hebrew 305a     Advanced Hebrew (1)

History/Religion 248     Out of the Ghetto (1) 
History/Religion 249     The Jewish Experience in the Twentieth Century (1)

Religion 225     The Hebrew Bible (1) 
Religion 245     Religion and Antisemitism (1) 
Religion 255     Western Mystical Traditions: Kabbalah (1) 
Religion 320     Studies in Sacred Texts: The Matriarchs and Their Sisters (1) 
Religion 346     Studies in Jewish Thought and History: Portraits of Biblical Women (1)

Jewish Studies in Comparative Contexts 
American Culture 275     From Melting Pot to Multiculturalism: Race and Ethnicity (1)

Classics 106     Crosscurrents: History and Culture of the Ancient Mediterranean (1)

English 326     Studies in Ethnic American Literature (1)

Hispanic Studies 226     Medieval and Early Modern Spain: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Medieval Spain (1) 
History 237     Germany, 1890–1990 (1) 
History 257     Justice (1) 
History 337     The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany (1) 
History 369     Themes in Twentieth Century Urban History: Social Reform and the Evolution of the Welfare State (1)

Political Science 237     Law of Race and Gender Antidiscrimination the United States (1) 
Political Science 247     The Politics of Difference (1) 
Political Science 256     Politics and Conflict in the Middle East (1) 
Political Science 375     The Three Religions of the Book and Political Theory (1)

Religion 150     Western Religious Traditions (1) 
Religion 220     Text and Tradition (1) 
Religion 266     Religion in America (1)

Sociology 271     Forms of Social Conflict (1) 
Sociology 272     Genocide and Social Theory (1) 
Sociology 366     Racism and Intellectuals (1)


Hebrew Language and Literature

I. Introductory

105a–106b. Elementary Hebrew (1)

Introduction to the language. Basic phonics and grammatical structures. Stress on development of reading comprehension, simple composition, and conversational skills. For Hebrew 105, no background in the language is assumed; admission to Hebrew 106 is possible with the demonstration of previous work equivalent to Hebrew 105. Ms. Weitzman.

May not be counted toward fulfillment of requirements for concentration.

Open to all students.

221b. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 221)

Prerequisite: One 100–level course or permission of instructor.


II. Intermediate

205a, 206b. Continuing Hebrew (1)

Formal study of Hebrew language with emphasis on oral practice and writing skills. Ms. Weitzman.

Prerequisite: Hebrew 105–106, or equivalent of two years in high school.

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)


III. Advanced Hebrew

305a. Advanced Hebrew (1)

Expansion of language proficiency through intensified study of cultural and literary texts, including poetry, prose, essays, newspapers, films, songs. Extensive discussion of issues related to contemporary Israel. Ms. Weitzman.

Prerequisite: Hebrew 205/206 or equivalent.