Jewish Studies Program

Director: Marc Michael Epstein (Religion and Jewish Studies); Steering Committee: Peter Antelyes (English), Susan H. Brisman (English), Andrew Bush (Hispanic Studies), Marc Michael Epstein (Religion), Natalie J. Friedman (English), Rachel Friedman (Classics), Judith L. Goldstein (Anthropology), Lynn Lidonnici (Religion), Jannay Morrow (Psychology), Elliott Schreiber (German), Joshua S. Schreier (History), Tova Weitzman (Religion), Debra Zeifman (Psychology).

Jewish Studies is a multidisciplinary approach to the diversity of the history and culture of Jews in Western and non-Westem societies. This approach involves studying the creation and reproduction of Jewish culture in multi-ethnic societies in the ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary world as well as such theoretical concerns as Diaspora, Zionism and the construction of Jewish identity.

Requirements for Concentration: 12 units, including: 1) Jewish Studies 201 and 301; 2) 2 units of college-level Hebrew or Yiddish or its equivalent; 3) two additional courses at the 300-level drawn from either Jewish Studies offerings or the list of Approved Courses; 4) six remaining units drawn from Jewish Studies offerings and Approved Courses.

Students are encouraged to explore complementary courses in a variety of disciplines. After consulting with the director, students choosing a concentration are encouraged to explore language, literature, texts, religious traditions, history, society, and culture.

Jewish Studies strongly recommends that students pursue a Junior Year Abroad experience whenever possible. Many different options exist, and students are encouraged to begin discussions about this with the Program director and their professors as soon as declaration of concentration is made. No more than 3 units per semester from study away can be counted toward the concentration.

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

No more than 4 units of Hebrew, Yiddish or other study in Jewish languages may be applied toward the concentration. Hebrew 305 may be counted as one of the three 300-level courses required of majors.

Senior-Year Requirements: Jewish Studies 301, if not taken earlier. The Senior Thesis or Project (Jewish Studies 300) is optional, but must be elected by students to be considered for Honors in the Program. If elected, the thesis is taken in addition to the three 300 level courses required. The thesis or project should reflect the multidisciplinary orientation of the Program. It will be graded Distinction, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory.

Requirements for Correlate Sequence: 6 units, including Jewish Studies 201, two 300-level courses, and three other courses, only one of which can be a field work credit (Jewish Studies 290). Students electing the correlate sequence are encouraged but not required to take 301, as well as two units of college-level Hebrew or Yiddish or the equivalent. Hebrew 305 may be counted as one of the 300-level courses required for the correlate sequence. After consulting with the director, students should choose a correlate sequence program that complements concentration requirements. No more than 2 units from study abroad can be counted toward the correlate sequence.

I. Introductory

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

Multidisciplinary introduction to a variety of 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.

110b. Jewish Metropolis: Berlin, Prague and Budapest (1)

Berlin, Prague, and Budapest 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 a required study trip to all three cities during Spring Break. Mr. Epstein.

150a and b. Western Religious Traditions (1)

(Same as Religion 150) An historical comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course focuses on such themes as origins, development, sacred literature, ritual, legal, mystical, and philosophical traditions, and interactions between the three religions. Ms. Lidonnici, instructor to be announced.

181a. (Freshman Course) (1)

Title and instructor to be announced.

[184a. New Voices, Old Stories, New Immigrant Jewish Writers] (1)

American History is, in some ways, the story of immigrants, and one of the first immigrant groups to publish their stories were Jews, particularly those from Eastern Europe. American Jewish writers established the immigrant literary scene that today has become multifaceted and multicultural. In this class, we read the newest, most popular young writers to emerge from the recent Eastern European Jewish diaspora, and compare them to their classic forerunners. We examine the themes of assimilation, religious awakening, and responses to the Holocaust by members of the Second and Third Generation. New texts include Gary Shteyngart’s The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, and Lara Vapnyar’s There Are Jews in My House; older voices include those of Abraham Cahan, Henry Roth, and Anzia Yezierska. Ms. Friedman.

Open to Freshmen only.

Not offered in 2006/07.

II. Intermediate

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 2006/07: 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.

Jewish Studies 101 or by permission.

[220a. Texts and Traditions] (1)

(Same as Religion 220)

Not offered in 2006/07.

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 is Religion 225) The Hebrew Scriptures exist both in and out of time—in time as the literature of a particular people; out of time as a repository of metaphors through which much in western culture is still expressed. This course pursues both of these dimensions through a study of the religious and literary tradition of ancient Israel and the legacy of these traditions in our own modes of thought. Ms. Lidonnici.

Not offered in 2006/07.

[245. Jewish Traditions] (1)

(Same as Religion 245)

Not offered in 2006/07.

[275a. Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies] (1)

(Same as German 275) This course offers and extended analysis of one issue of the major issues in German Cultural Studies. Topics may include memory and the Holocaust, Nazi culture, issues of transparency in political culture, or lesbian and gay culture.

Not offered in 2006/07.

280a. Psychological Perspectives on the Holocaust (1)

(Same as Psychology 280) 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 altruistic differences in stress, coping 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 translating human experiences and historical events into measurable/quantifiable scientific terms are also considered. Ms. Zeifman.

Prerequisites: Psychology 105 or 106 and at least one of the following: Psychology 201, 221, 223, 231, 241, 243, 251, or 253.

282a. Psychological Perspectives on the Holocaust (1)

(Same as Psychology 282) Ms. Zeifman.

283b. The Jewish Gothic (1)

(Same as Anthropology 283) The Jewish Gothic considers the treatment of the supernatural in Jewish folklore, as well as the representation of Jews as demonic in non-Jewish sources. The course begins with nineteenth and early twentieth century folktale collections, placing the Jewish anthologies in the context of the period’s fascination with folklore. It then follows the themes of the supernatural and the use of “folk” material into the present by looking at the contemporary use of golems, ghosts and demons in art, and in ethnographic studies of possession. Ms. Goldstein.

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.

301b. Special Topics in Jewish Studies (1)

Advanced study in selected aspects of Jewish Studies, emphasizing the multidisciplinary nature of the field. The seminar gives students the opportunity to develop their own scholarly work built around the common core of the topic for that year.

Topic for 2006/07: Jewish Communities in the Middle East. This seminar explores the lived worlds of Jewish communities in the Middle East from the nineteenth century to the present. To this end, the course combines many sources and genres including: oral and written histories, novels, memoirs, ethnographies, material and visual culture. The course focuses on issues of self representation and on the cultural reproduction of community in different places and times and under varying conditions (which include contact with foreign travelers and educators, and the rise of nationalism). Ms. Goldstein.

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 2006/07: American Jewish Literature. An introduction to the American Jewish literary imagination from historical, topical, and theoretical perspectives. Texts may include works by Anzia Yezierska, Celia Dropkin, Henry Roth, Charles Reznikoff, Isaac Beshevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Grace Paley, Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz, Adrienne Rich, and Art Spiegelman. Also included are films and music, and theoretical works by such critics as Walter Benjamin and Daniel Boyarin. Topics may include: the development of immigrant modernism, the influence of Jewish interpretive traditions on contemporary literary theory, the (anti-) conventions of Jewish feminist and lesbian literature, the possibilities and limitations of a diaspora poetics, and contemporary representations of the Holocaust. Mr. Antelyes.

[340b. Classical Jewish Culture] (1)

Not offered in 2006/07.

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

(Same as Religion 346) Advanced study in selected aspects of Jewish thought and history.

Topic for 2006/07: The Great Flood. Ideas about a world-encompassing flood occur in the religious literature of several societies, as cautionary tales about human sin, as accounts of the origin of evil, and sometimes as a metaphor for perfect lives that can never be again. In this course we study the sources of the biblical account of the flood and its transformations through early Jewish and Christian interpretation, along with the myths of Atlantis and other world flood traditions. We focus both upon the ancient texts and on their role in contemporary debate about the teaching of modern scientific archeology, biology and geology, creation science, and intelligent design. Ms. Lidonnici.

[350b. Confronting Modernity: Jewish Narrative] (1)

This course examines a variety of modes and contexts in which Jews have narrated their experiences of modernity, including fiction, autobiography, historiography, ethnography and film. The geographical focus is Central and Eastern Europe, primarily in the early twentieth century, where one encounters both Yiddish works and Ashkenazi cultural productions in other European languages, but consideration of the Sephardic diaspora and other texts of modern Jewish thought helps to inform a multidisciplinary approach to the material. Among the authors under study we read Sholom Aleichem, Isaac Babel, Emil Durkheim, Sigmund Freud, Emma Goldman, Edmund James, Franz Kafka, Rosa Luxembourg and Bruno Schulz. Mr. Bush.

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

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.

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 Readings in Hebrew: Genres and Themes (1)

Expansion of language proficiency through intensified study of culture and literary texts and examination of different Israeli media. Readings are arranged according to thematic topics and course may be repeated for credit if topic changes. Ms. Weitzman.

398a. Independent Work ( 1/2, 1)


A self-instructional introductory course in Yiddish language exists. See Self-Instructional Language Program (SILP).

Approved Courses

American Culture 275b Ethnicity and Race in America (1)

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

English 326b Studies in Ethnic American Literature (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 214a (2 sections) The Roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict (1)

History 231b France and its “Others” (1)

History 237b Germany, 1918-1990 (1)

History 337a The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany (1)

History 369b Social Reform and the Evolution of the Welfare State (1)

Religion 266a Religion in America (1)