Jewish Studies Program

Director: Marc Michael Epstein (Religion and Jewish Studies); Steering Committee: Peter Antelyes (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), Agnes VetoË� (Jewish Studies), 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 and Jewish Politics] (1)

Are “the Jews” white people of East European origin, or Arabic-, Mahrathi-, and Amharic-speaking people of color from the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa? Are Jewish politics conservative and affirming of the status quo, or progressive and prophetically charged? Are Jewish gender roles and attitudes towards sex suburban and patriarchal, or queer and radical? This course is a multidisciplinary introduction to the extraordinary diversity of the Jewish people and Jewish culture, and to the ways history, geography, gender, religious status, race, and class are factors in the construction of Jewish identity, in interaction with surrounding cultures. We will study primary sources such as the Hebrew Bible and Talmud and midrash in their historical contexts, as well as art and literature produced by and about Jews. Mr. Epstein.

Open to freshmen only.

Not offered 2008/2009.

[110b. Jewish Metropolis: Paris / Berlin] (1)

From court Jews to Kafka, from Dreyfus to Chagall, Paris and Berlin have been magnets for Jewish life and creativity since the Middle Ages. We explore the Jewish heritage of these great urban centers through primary sources, secondary literature and 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 mandatory study trip to both cities during Spring Break, for which financial aid is available. Mr. Epstein.

Not offered 2008/2009.

184b. New Voices, Old Stories, New Immigrant Jewish Writers (1)

(Same as English 184b)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. Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

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 2008/09: Sex, Sexuality and Gender. Essentialist, existentialist, theoretical and practical concerns surrounding sex roles, gender definition and its attendant politics, and “normative” and “deviant” sexuality are central and important elements in Jewish law and in Jewish cultures. We explore a panoply of topics in this area from the biblical text through rabbinic literature (Talmud, Tosefta, and Midrash in translation) and through feminist and postmodern thought. The range of classical and contemporary opinion on essential definitions of masculinity and femininity and the spectrum in between them, and on relationships between and among the sexes have had profound impact on the formation of various Judaisms. Ms. VetoË�.

Prerequisite: Jewish Studies 101 or by permission.

215a. Jews and Material Culture (1)

Topic for 2008/09a: Screen Memories: Representing Jews on Film, TV and the Web. A course on Jewish culture in what German-Jewish philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin called “the age of mechanical reproduction,” concentrating on representations of Jews in the various screen media. Viewing and analysis are guided by considerations raised by Benjamin and other early Jewish film theorists (e.g., B. Balazs, S. Kracauer) and recent Jewish Studies scholarship on media (e.g., J. Shandler). The title and theoretical cornerstone of the course are derived from Freud’s discussion of “screen memories,” a process of visual projection in which one image masks another. Mr. Bush.

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 Mizrahim to investigate such topics as memory, identity, alienation, community, exile. Authors may include Yizhar, Yehoshua, Oz, Grossman, Kanafani, Almog, Katzir, Liebrecht, Ravikovitch, Zelda, Zach, Amichai, Darwish and el-Kassim. Ms. Weitzman.

222b. Psychological Perspectives on the Holocaust (1)

(Same as Psychology 222) Ms. Zeifman.

225b. The Hebrew Bible (1)

(Same as Religion 225) The Bible is one of the most important foundational documents of Western civilization. This course surveys the literature of the Hebrew Bible (Christian ‘Old Testament’) within the historical, religious and literary context of ancient Israel and its neighbors. What social and religious forces created these books, and how did they shape the lives of the ancient Israelites, their descendents, and all those they influenced for three thousand years? All texts are read in English translation. Ms. VetoË�.

Pre-requisites: Jewish Studies 101, 201, Religion 150, or consent of the instructor.

240a. The World of The Rabbis (1)

With the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, Jews found themselves at the lowest moment of their history. Yet, within a few short years a remarkably creative, versatile, portable and use-friendly culture of law and lore had developed, a culture that has sustained Jews through their application and response to it, and through their rejection of it for the past two millennia. This course examines rabbinic culture and rabbinic imagination through analysis of primary texts (Bible, Mishnah, Talmud and midrash), considering the impact of canonical literature on Jewish societies, and conversely, the effect of social change on the interpretation of canonical literature. All reading and discussion in English. Ms. Veto�.

Pre-requisites: Jewish Studies 101, 201, Religion 150, or consent of the instructor.

260b. Current Thoughts in Anthropological Theory and Method (1)

(Same as Anthropology 260b) Topic for 2008/09: The Jewish Gothic. Ms. Goldstein.

285. Jews and Other Germans: A Correspondence Course (1)

The course is organized, first, by the practices of area studies (i.e., on the model of programs like Asian Studies) and mapped in three zones meant to destabilize the notions of majority: an area where German is the majority language for Jews and others; an area where German is the native language of a minority including, but not limited to Jews; and an area where Jews and others customarily learned German as a second language of the hegemonic culture. Goethe and Arendt, Kafka and Rilke, Celan and Schulz, are among the representative figures for these areas. A second organizing principle are theoretical: the concept and practices of correspondence are considered as a means to reflect upon the relations between Jews and their neighbors in German-speaking lands. Hence, there is special attention to epistolary fiction and postal correspondences. Historically, the course investigates the period from the late eighteenth century to the present. There is some consideration of the Holocaust and its aftermath, but the focus is on earlier periods. All reading and discussion in English. Mr. Bush.

290. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

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. 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 for2008/09: 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 2008/09: 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. Women in the Classical Jewish Tradition] (1)

The issues and debates that frame contemporary Jewish women’s lives and women’s roles in Judaism have been shaped, directed and sometimes limited by religious narratives in general and Jewish law in particular. We examine both the key texts from rabbinic literature (Talmud, Tosefta, and midrash) on topics affecting women’s status and feminist critiques of these issues demonstrating how historical and contemporary interpretations of scripture, law, and cultural narratives have very real consequences for women’s lives within Jewish communities. All reading and discussion in English. Ms. VetoË�.

Pre-requisites: Jewish Studies 101, 201, Religion 150, or consent of the instructor.

Not offered in 2008/09.

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

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

Not offered in 2008/09.

350b. Confronting Modernity: Modern Jewish Thought (1)

The course is dedicated to the close reading of philosophical and literary texts and is organized by two sets of pairings. First, we will establish a dialogue between philosophical texts and, second, between those texts and a literary work. Concretely, the first philosophical pair takes up a virtual dialogue between Franz Rosenzweig’s understanding of miracles and Hannah Arendt’s political conception of the human condition. An altogether real dialogue between two Algerian-born French philosophers, Jacques Derrida and Helene Cixous, focusing on the practices of autobiography, will close the series. The bridge between them will be the work of Lithuanian-born French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, a careful reader of Rosenzweig and a major influence on Derrida. In this section, we will consider the relation between what Levinas called his philosophical and his confessional (i.e., overtly Jewish) works with regard to his understanding of havens and hostages. Each of the three philosophical dialogues will be correlated with the reading of the one of the literary texts and in Elie Wiesel’s Night Trilogy. Mr. Bush.

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

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

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 205. Continuing Hebrew (1)

Hebrew 298. Independent Work in Hebrew (1)

Hebrew 305a. Advanced Hebrew (1)

History 214b. 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)