Jewish Studies Program

Director: Deborah Dash Moore (Religion); Steering Committee: John Ahern (Italian), Peter Antelyes (English), Susan H. Brisman (English), Andrew Bush (Hispanic Studies), Marc Michael Epstein (Religion), Rachel Friedman (Classics), Judith L. Goldstein (Anthropology), Luke C. Harris (Political Science), Maria Höhn (History), Hartley Lachter (Religion), Lynn LiDonnici (Religion), MacDonald Moore, Janney Morrow (Psychology), Joshua S. Schreier (History), 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, Maria Höhn, Hartley Lachter, Lynn LiDonnici, J. Bertrand Lott (Classics), Marque Miringoff (Sociology), Deborah Dash Moore, MacDonald Moore, Joshua S. Schrier, 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

101a. Jewish Identities and Jewish Politics (1)

Two centuries ago Emancipation set into motion the volatile complex of forces that have shaped the debates of modern Jewish history. This course follows the intertwined fates of words people wield to characterize themselves and others, to justify and promote their actions, to identify with great traditions, to nominate traditions to greatness. “The Jewish Problem” was on people’s lips even as they welcomed Jews into humanity. From this backhanded welcome grew the tangled conflicts dealt with in the class: assimilation and gender, nationalism and racial anti-Semitism, shtetl and ghetto, Zionism and Diaspora, and the Holocaust/Shoah. Mr. Moore.

110b. Vienna, Prague and Budapest: The Imperial Cities and Their Jews (1)

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.

131a. God ( 1/2)

(Same as Religion 131a) Whether we are furious with it, love it, or think it does not exist, the figure that Western Civilization calls “God” one of our most powerful root metaphors, an intellectual category that requires interrogation and understanding. As a literary figure, God has a personality, a biography, and a history; and, like all of us, a great deal to say (in literature) about how he has been understood and misunderstood. Through analysis of primary materials-Biblical, Ugaritic, Canaanite, and Mesopotamian, we explore this complicated figure. Ms. LiDonnici.

One 2-hour period for six weeks during the first half of the semester.

[151. 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 1960s and 1980s. Open only to freshmen. Mr. Moore.

Not offered in 2004/05.

183a. God’s Body (1)

Since the Bible, the Jewish tradition has tended to reject the notion that God has a body. Yet, even within the Bible itself, we find a striking array of images that attribute a human form to God. In this course, the class examines some of the ways that Jews have depicted God in a corporeal way, examining passages from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, Kabbalah, and Jewish philosophy. Students see how debates concerning the embodiment of God have given rise to arguments over the nature of religion and human identity. This course provides an opportunity to learn about some of the ways that Jews have asked the questions: What is a body? What is the nature of God? Mr. Lachter.

Open only to Freshmen.

I. Introductory

201b Jewish Textuality: Sources and Subversions (1)

Jewish tradition consists of a series of developments from the biblical stratum of text and practice through rabbinic interpretations and medieval, modern and postmodern revisions, reforms and even rejections of those interpretations. This course examines themes in Jewish life and thought from their biblical roots to their postmodern reinventions or reclamations.

Topic for 2004/05: Beginnings: Genesis in the Jewish Tradition. The first book of the Bible has proved endlessly fascinating to scholars and legists, poet and artists. How have the tales of the origins of the world and all that is within developed in the Jewish tradition, and what countertraditions have emerged from the interpretations? Mr. Epstein.

220a. Texts and Traditions (1)

(Same as Religion 220) Topic for 2004/05: Jewish Diversity in the Greco-Roman World. In the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman periods (300 BCE-200 CE), Jews lived many different lives-in and out of the promised land; stable and chaotic; invested in and rejecting of the world as they knew it; assimilating and “orthodox.” In this class, we study the texts and other artifacts through which the many voices from early Judaism survive until today, probing the religious, historical, literary and cultural forces that shaped the people and their texts. Readings include the so-called Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Jewish apocalyptic texts, examples from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Philo. Ms. LiDonnici.

221b. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as Hebrew 221 and Religion 221) An examination of modern and postmodern Hebrew literature in English translation. The course focuses 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 Ravikovitch, Zelda, Zach, Amichai, Darwish El-Kassin, Yehoshua, Oz, Grossman, Shammas, Liebrecht and Almog. Ms. Weitzman.

[225b. The Hebrew Bible] (1)

(Same as Religion 225) The books of the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) are about a very long and tempestuous relationship between a people and a God. But who were these people, and where did they come from? Why were they chosen and by whom? What were they chosen for? Where did the biblical books come from and why are they so influential? In this course we examine these and other questions that relate to the interpretation of one of the most important books of Western civilization. Ms. LiDonnici.

Not offered in 2004/05.

245. Jewish Traditions (1)

(Same as Religion 245)

248a. Out of the Ghetto (1)

(Same as Religion 248 and History 248) Starting in the seventeenth century, Jews gradually moved out of the physical, political, social, and religious ghettos to which Christian Europe had consigned them. This course explores the implications of such an exodus. It looks at Jewish piety and politics, individuality and community in Europe, North America and northern Africa. Topics include changing gender roles, migration, hasidism, religious reform, and antisemitism. Ms. Moore.

249a. Diaspora and Zion (1)

(Same as Religion 249 and History 249) The twentieth century shattered and transformed Jewish life throughout the world altering our understanding of evil and challenging accepted meanings of modernity. This course explores the growth of political and racial antisemitism and its culmination in the Holocaust; the growth of Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel; the transformation of Jews from a largely small-town people into a highly urbanized one. The implication of these events-what it has meant for Jews to live in a post-Holocaust world, how Jews interpret political sovereignty, Jewish responses to American life-form the second part of the course. Ms. Moore.

265a. German Film in English Translation (1)

(Same as German 265) This course offers an overview of selected historical and formal developments in German film from the silent period to the present.

Topic for 2004/05: Images of the Jew in German, European, and American Films from the Early Twenties to the Present. The image of “the Jew” has been crucial to German culture, and the advent of the German film industry provided a powerful means to explore and disseminate that image in versions that range from virulent anti-Semitism to sympathetic reflections. This course sets German film treatments of Jews in a comparative context, including Jewish constructions of Jews in Yiddish films, as well as the differing views of other European and American filmmakers. Among the topics to be considered are the ethnographic role of film; the intertwined themes of Jewish/German relations, anti-fascism, and the Holocaust; the changing responses in Germany and in the U.S. to the Holocaust in post-war popular culture. Mr. Bush and Ms. von der Emde.

Readings and discussions in English.

269b. The Holocaust (1)

(Same as Religion 260 and History 260) The Shoah, or Holocaust, signifies the systemic effort by the Nazis to exterminate the Jews of Europe. This course explores the events that constitute the Shoah/Holocaust from the perspective of Jewish history and German history. What difference does perspective make in terms of crafting an historical narrative, seeking meaningful explanations for motivations and actions, choosing to focus upon the victims or perpetrators or bystanders? How do scholars of Jewish or German history frame issues of politics and religion, responsibility and guilt, resistance and rescue? Finally, the course explores some of the responses to the Holocaust/Shoah in its immediate aftermath. Ms. Moore and Ms. Höhn.

281b. Jewish Philosophy (1)

(Same as Religion 281 and Philosophy 281) This course examines the dynamics of the Jewish encounters and struggles with philosophical speculation from antiquity to the contemporary period. The dialectical relationship between rational speculation and the Jewish tradition has had a formative impact on both the history of Jewish thought and the history of philosophical discourse. The purpose of this course is to examine how some of the key ideas in the Jewish tradition have been engaged by Jewish thinkers in a philosophical way. Topics to consider include: the nature of God, creation and ontology, metaphysics, Aristotelianism, free will, the meaning of Scripture, reason and faith, ethics, the nature of humanity, tradition, law, and gender. Mr. Lachter.

282a. Psychological Perspectives on the Holocaust (1)

(Same as Psychology 282) The Holocaust has spawned several now classic programs of psychological research. This course considers topics such as: anti-Semitism and stereotypes of Jews; the authoritarian and altruistic personalities; conformity, obedience, and dissent; humanistic and existential psychology; and individual differences in stress, copying and resiliency. The broader implications of Holocaust-inspired research are explored in terms of traditional debates within psychology such as those on the role of the individual versus the situation in producing behavior and the essence of human nature. The ethical and logical constraints involved in human experiences and historical events into measurable/quantifiable scientific terms will also be considered. Ms. Zeifman.

290. Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

298. Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)

II. Intermediate

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.

301a. Space, Memory, Form: Studies in Jewish History and Material Culture (1)

This seminar explores the lived worlds of Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East. Through a combination of genres-memoirs, autobiographies, fiction, theoretical texts and visual material-students study the ways in which memory and space have been represented in oral histories, literature, material culture, and visual representations. Issues of transmission and cultural reproduction in different places and times and under varying conditions are central to the course. The seminar gives students the opportunity to develop their own scholarly work in the multi-sited framework. Ms. Goldstein.

Open only to seniors.

Permission required for non-majors.

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

This course examines the relationship of Jews with the arts from ancient times through the postmodern period.

Topic for 2004/05: Jews and American Popular Culture. An exploration of the ways in which Jews have shaped American popular culture, and the ways they have been shaped by it. Our approaches are historical, thematic, and theoretical, focusing on the links between popular media, models of citizenship, and consumerist practices. Our primary texts are drawn from a variety of media. For example: films and the film industry (The Jazz Singer to The Producers), television (The Goldbergs to Seinfeld), comics (Betty Boop and Superman to The X-Men and Maus), music (popular song from Irving Berlin to Leiber and Stoller, klezmer from Mickey Katz to Don Byron), sports figures (Hank Greenberg and The Mighty Golem), fashion (Yiddish fashion manuals to postmodern immigrant wear), and dolls (Barbie, of course). Among the issues we consider: Jewish blackface and the popular unconscious; diasporic identity and the transformative properties of media culture; the relation between outlaw and in-law cultures; and Jews, gender, and the American body. Mr. Antelyes.

340b. Classical Jewish Culture (1)

Topic for 2004/05: Fighting over God: Jewish Debates with Islam and Christianity. Western religious traditions have come to define themselves partially through debate and theological conflict. Since antiquity, this tension has given rise to a vast literature wherein attempts are made to refute another religion. In this course we explore some of the debates that have taken place, especially in the Middle Ages, between Jews and the other western traditions. Students see how intricate arguments have been formulated on both sides of questions such as: Was Jesus the Messiah? Was Muhammad a prophet? Can there be more than one Messiah? Are the Jews a despised people? Can more than one religion be right at the same time? The class sees that the cultural phenomenon of religious debates tells us quite a bit about religious culture in western society. Mr. Lachter.

346b. Studies in Jewish Thought and History (1)

(Same as Religion 346) Topic for 2004/05: Hasidism. Distinguished in dress, language and culture, today’s Hasidic community is synonymous for most of us with “ultra-orthodox” Judaism. But surprising as it seems, the Hasidic movement was, from its very inception, the first and most revolutionary modern reform movement in Judaism. In both philosophy and practice, Hasidism and their charismatic spiritual leaders infused Jewish religious culture with new life while simultaneously undermining the structures of the religion which were previously deemed central and inviolate. In doing so, this radical movement both challenged the status quo of its times and anticipated later reforms to the Jewish tradition. Mr. Epstein.

350b. Confronting Modernity: Confronting Freud: Questions of the Jewish Body (1)

Freud, a citizen of the nineteenth century, directly confronted European modernity in many of its major aspects; secularization, including the strong bent toward science, for instance; the domestication and commodification of bourgeois women; a certain fetishization of the “primordial” (figured in Freud’s work more as the ancient than the colonized world); and, as a Jew, emancipation, assimilation and anti-Semitism. But in the wake of his founding of psychoanalysis, Freud himself has become an embodiment of the modernity that others would confront in him as a theorist and a therapist, if not to say the inventor of the modern and postmodern psyche. This course provides a close reading of some key texts by Freud, including case studies, metapsychological papers and applications of psychoanalysis in cultural areas beyond the therapeutic couch (e.g., literature, religion and the arts). Special attention is devoted to what Freud himself called “some observations on the anatomical distinctions between the sexes.” Thereafter, the course turns to readings of, reactions to, and questions for Freud, primarily as they have been articulated in France in our times, and with a focus on the Jewish body. Figures discussed include philosophers Jacques Derrida and Sarah Kofman, feminist theorist and novelist Helen Cixous, psychoanalysts Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, and literary critic Nicolas Rand. Mr. Bush.

399a or b. Advanced 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.

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 and Religion 221)

Prerequisite: One 100-level course in Jewish Studies or permission of ­instructor.

Hebrew Language and Literature

205a, 206b. Continuing Hebrews (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)

I. Introductory

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.

II. Intermediate

III. Advanced Hebrew

Approved Courses

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)

Jewish Studies in Comparative Contexts

American Culture 275 Ethnicity and Race in America (1)

Classics 103 Crosscurrents: History and Culture of the Ancient Mediterranean (1)

English 326 Studies in Ethnic American Literature (1)

History 214 The Roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict (1)

History 215 The High Middle Ages (1)

History 231 France and its “Others” (1)

History 234 Imperial France, 1830-1962 (1)

History 237 Germany, 1918-1990 (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)

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 366 Racism and Intellectuals (1)