Course Description

Course Catalog for JEWISH STUDIES
JWST 206
The Arab/Israeli Conflict
An examination of the dynamics of the Arab/Israeli conflict, especially since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The course will focus on the changing interests and positions of the parties involved: Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab states, and the important international players. It will also highlight contradictions within the major camps.
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 219
Israeli Film and Visual Media
Israeli film from the heroic nationalist sentiments of the 1950s to the conflicted alienation of the 21st century, offers a unique window into the history and society of the modern state. This course uses visual media to promote a wide variety of perspectives on Israeli culture and society, and assumes no previous knowledge about Israel. In addition to commercial movies and TV, assigned readings will address Israeli cinema as well as related historical and social issues.
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 220
Modern Israeli Literature and Jewish Heritage
Artists, and especially writers and poets, are the seismographs and mirrors of society, anticipating and reflecting its many forces and movements. During the past two hundred years Jewish life has been profoundly affected by such forces and movements as emancipation, the Enlightenment, assimilation, Zionism, and the Holocaust. A primary focus of modern Israeli writers is the birth of the State of Israel and its ongoing struggles, internally as well as with its Arab neighbors. One of the main ways Hebrew literature captures these significant changes is through the use of biblical themes, images and archetypes which resonate through the generations. This course will examine the ways in which modern Hebrew literature enriches and brings deeper understanding of collective Jewish experiences and detects and shapes the reality of modern Israel.
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 221
The Re/Invention of the Jewish Bible: Explorations in the History of Jewish Exegesis
An exploration of the ingenious ways in which Jewish interpreters refashioned Biblical narrative. In Judaism, the Bible is a seemingly limitless source for deriving and discovering new meaning. Ancient and medieval Jews were the inheritors and - in a significant sense - the next authors who would supplement and reshape the Bible through interpretation. Close reading in English translation of ancient and medieval interpreters will open up this central aspect of Jewish creativity. Knowledge of Hebrew is not required.
1.00 units, Seminar
JWST 222
Jewish Literature and Film
This course explores adaptation of modern Jewish literature to the motion picture. We will explore representations of Jewish life, culture, religion and history in literature and films dealing with the American experience, the Holocaust, and Israel. Mixing history and representation, we will examine how Jews and Jewish history have been represented and misrepresented in films which seek to translate literature into film. We will also explore what these changes can tell us about how Jews sought to present themselves to America, the world, and each other. We will also ask questions such as: What makes a film Jewish? What can films tell us about Jewish experience in the twentieth century and beyond? Weekly reading and film viewing are required.
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 223
American Jewish Literature Since 1865
This course begins with a question: How would one characterize or define the tradition of American Jewish literature since 1865 – the period following the Civil War that also necessarily accounts for the first and second world wars, the polio and AIDS crises in America, U.S. responses to the Holocaust, and ongoing questions about how to balance assimilation with maintaining one’s ethnic identity in U.S. cities large and small. Through close reading of the works of eight canonical American Jewish writers (two poets, two short story writers, two dramatist, and two novelists), we will consider such questions as: What makes these works Jewish? What makes these works American? What makes these works literary?
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 225
Modern Israeli Culture
As a dynamic young society with a multifaceted culture, modern Israel is distinguished by complex social relationships, evolving challenges and constant restlessness. With immigrants from all over the world, Israel is celebrating its extraordinary achievements while struggling with its history of constant external conflicts and intensifying divisions within its ethnic, religious and political groups. These cross currents will be examined using prose and poetry, films, plays, and currents from the internet. Additional topics will include physical features of the land, historical background, and the impact of the legal and political system on the daily lives of people.
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 230
Jewish Response to the Holocaust
This class explores Jewish responses to the Holocaust in an interdisciplinary manner through an examination of social, religious, theological, political, cultural, psychological, and literary responses to the Holocaust during and after WWII. Students will examine sources that reflect on the ways Jews sought to maintain religious observance under Nazi occupation, the moral and ethical dilemmas Jews confronted daily during the war, and the many forms of resistance to persecution – from armed resistance to spiritual, cultural, psychological, and philosophical forms of resistance to persecution. Class sessions will also study attempts to document the war both under occupation and in its aftermath, memorialization, the nature of psychological responses to trauma and persecution, and theological and religious explanations of the meaning of the Holocaust in its aftermath.
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 251
Exotic Exiles: Jewish Women and Memory in the Mediterranean World
In this course we will explore the uniqueness of Sephardic Jewish women's identity as we read their stories of childhood, adolescence and adulthood in places like Iran, Algeria, Israel, Latin America, France and the United States. The course is designed to expose the student to the discourse of the "other" Jew, both woman and Sephardic, to expand the notion of what it means to be Jewish in a post-colonial, post-WWII, postmodern world. We will explore how the tendency of history to be narrated by "white" (male) Europeans has also influenced and shaped the narrative of Jewish modern history, and we will challenge this view as well as seek to understand how this trend has affected various Sephardic/Mizrahi communities.
1.00 units, Lecture
JWST 261
Abraham's Children: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Middle Ages
Jews, Christians and Muslims all claimed Abraham as the founder of their particular form of monotheism. In the Middle Ages, men and women from all three groups had to negotiate relationships in war and peace. Jews lived among Christians and Muslims. Christians and Muslims fought in the Crusades, and all three groups traded with each other in the cosmopolitan cities of the Mediterranean. What kinds of worlds did these people live in? Were they worlds of prejudice and hatred or a pragmatic tolerance? How were the identities of Jews, Christians and Muslims shaped by their interactions during the Middle Ages? Are we still living with the results of those interactions?
1.00 units, Seminar
JWST 283
Gender and Identity in Jewish Experience
From circumcision to the nose job, this course will explore constructions of gender, sexuality, and the body of Judaism. We will look at the changing roles of men and women throughout Jewish history as formulated in both classic texts and their modern interpretations. By discussing topics such as God's body, purity laws, ideals of masculinity, gender stereotypes, and feminist theology, we will study the multiple meanings of gender sexuality, and the body for Jewish religion and culture.
1.00 units, Seminar
JWST 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
JWST 466
Teaching Assistant
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
JWST 497
Senior Thesis
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment in this single-semester thesis.
1.00 units, Independent Study
JWST 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment in this single-semester thesis.
2.00 units, Independent Study
JWST 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
The thesis is a year-long research project sponsored by a member of the Jewish Studies Department. Prerequisite: Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for each semester. (2 course credits are considered pending in the first semester; 2 course credits will be awarded for completion in the second semester)
2.00 units, Independent Study