Jewish Studies Program

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), MacDonald Moore, Judith Weisenfeld (Religion), Tova Weitzman (Religion), Debra Zeifman (Psychology); Participating Faculty: Peter Antelyes, Pinar Batur (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), Hartley Lachter (Religion), Lynn LiDonnici (Religion), J. Bertrand Lott (Classics), Marque Miringoff (Sociology), Deborah Dash Moore, MacDonald Moore, Daniel Tanaka (German Studies), 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) two 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
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.   Vienna, Prague and Budapest: The Imperial Cities and Their Jews
From court Jews to Kafka, the cities of East Central Europe have been magnets for Jewish life and creativity since the Middle Ages. We explore the Jewish heritage of these great urban centers through the eyes of guest lecturers who utilize tools, techniques, and resources from fields as diverse as literature, geography, history architecture, sociology, and ethnography. The course includes an optional study trip to all three cities during Spring Break. Mr. Epstein.
180.   Keywords and Codewords
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 referen-cing 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
       Open only to Freshmen.

II. Intermediate

201.   Jewish Textuality: Sources and Subversions
Jews - male and female, traditional and radical, East and West - have 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
(Same as Hebrew and Religion 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.
275b.   How German Is It? Jewish Culture and Identity in Germany from Enlightenment to the Holocaust
(Same as German 275)
       Readings and discussions in English. Open to all classes.
       Two 75-minute periods.
280.   The Holocaust
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 draws upon these first-hand accounts, and others written after the war, to give voice to Jewish victims and Jewish resistance. Careful literary analysis of these texts is combined with historical investigation and the concerns of philosophy and theology in a broadly multidisciplinary approach that considers the ideologies and practices of perpetrators and bystanders in addition to its central focus upon the experience of the Jews. Mr. Bush and Ms. Höhn.
290.   Field Work
(1/2or 1)
298.   Independent Work
(1/2or 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
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
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]
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.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
340.   Classical Jewish Culture
This course considers classical Jewish culture as it existed prior to Emancipation and, in some cases, has endured into the present. Topic for 2002/03: "Messiahs, Redeemers and Heretics." Mr. Lachter.
350.   Confronting Modernity: Jews in the Jazz Age
Jews were among the architects of modern American culture, even as they struggled to articulate and perform their own American Jewish identities. The course explores how Jews responded to modernity in such realms as law and popular culture, literature, and film. It asks, for example, what connects Jewish gangsters with Jewish justices on the Supreme Court, vaudeville stars with photographers, cartoon and comic strip characters with rabbis and philosophers. Mr. Antelyes and Ms. Moore.
[385.   Unspeakable Confessions: Representing the Holocaust]
This course explores a paradox at the heart of much testimonial writing: How can words claim to speak about events that resist conscious knowledge? Some events of this kind are called "traumatic" insofar as they are registered rather than experienced. They are "missed encounters" that can only be inferred or reconstructed from certain symptoms, since the original "experience" proves too powerful to retrieve or communicate without distortion. To understand the workings (and undoing) of metaphor in narratives of "missed events" we acquaint ourselves with deconstruction, trauma theory, and contemporary debates among historians, philosophers, and cultural critics centering on the propriety and the problems involved in representing the Holocaust. Most of our discussions, however, focus on literature: memoirs (Primo Levi and Charlotte Delbo), short stories (Ida Fink), novels (Roth and Spiegelman), and poetry (Nelly Sachs, Paul Celan, Haim Gouri, and Dan Pagis). There are opportunities for students to do research in the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimony at Yale University. Ms. Brisman.
399a or b.   Advanced Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)

Approved Courses

German 275 How German is it? Jewish Culture and Identity from the Enlightenment to the Eve of the Holocaust (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 255 Western Mystical Traditions: Kabbalah (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 103 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 (1)
History 237 Germany, 1890-1990 (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 in 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
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
(Same as Jewish Studies 221)
       Prerequisite: One 100-level course in Jewish Studies or permission of instructor.

II. Intermediate

205a, 206b.   Continuing Hebrew
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.
221b.   Voices from Modern Israel
(Same as Jewish Studies and Religion 221) Ms. Weitzman.
298.   Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced Hebrew

305a.   Advanced Hebrew
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.