Current Courses

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JWST 1101 : Elementary Modern Hebrew I
Crosslisted as: HEBRW 1101, HEBRW 1101 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Shalom Shoer
Intended for beginners. Provides a thorough grounding in reading, writing, grammar, oral comprehension, and speaking. Students who complete the course are able to function in basic situations in a Hebrew-speaking environment.
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JWST 1103 : Elementary Modern Hebrew III
Crosslisted as: HEBRW 1103 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Shalom Shoer
Sequel to HEBRW 1101-HEBRW 1102. Continued development of reading, writing, grammar, oral comprehension, and speaking skills.
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JWST 1776 : Elementary Yiddish
Crosslisted as: NES 1776 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Provides an introduction to reading, writing, aural comprehension, speaking and grammar, as well as to some of the basic elements of Ashkenazi Jewish culture.
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JWST 1987 : FWS: Jews on Film: Visible and Invisible
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Elliot Shapiro
Why were Jews virtually invisible in films produced during the Hollywood's "golden age"? Is this a surprise, given the leading role played by American Jews in founding the studio system? Writing about the films studied in this course will help students situate and interpret the presence (and absence) of characters identifiable as Jews in Hollywood films released from the silent era through the present. We will view approximately six films in their entirety and study excerpts from others. Films to be studied in whole or part may include: The Immigrant, The Jazz Singer, The Great Dictator, Casablanca, The Apartment, Funny Girl, Annie Hall, Barton Fink, and A Serious Man. Students will write film analyses, review essays, reflective responses, and explorations of contextual material. Readings from film studies and popular journalism will situate these films within the historical, cultural, and industrial contexts in which they were produced.
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JWST 2271 : Yiddish Linguistics
Crosslisted as: LING 2241 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Molly Diesing
Yiddish language and linguistics, including aspects of its morphology, syntax, and phonology. Also the history of the Yiddish language, and sociolinguistic topics.
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JWST 2501 : Kosher and Halal Food Regulations
Crosslisted as: FDSC 2500 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Joe Regenstein
This course explores kosher and halal food practices as a way to understand how the global food industry accommodates diverse and competing religious, cultural, and scientific approaches to food. The essential online component of the course introduces Jewish and Islamic religious law and modern religious food supervision. From diverse presenters, you'll learn about how we celebrate and struggle with food through various religious traditions, conflicting scientific claims, secular public policy choices, and cultural and spiritual practices. We'll discuss how food and eating are used for inclusion as well as exclusion by individuals, families, and groups in private and public settings where food is handled and consumed.            
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JWST 2523 : Islamophobia and Judeophobia
Crosslisted as: COML 2523, GOVT 2523, NES 2523, RELST 2523 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Ross Brann
Islamophobia and Judeophobia are ideas and like all ideas they have a history of their own. Although today many might think of Islamophobia or Judeophobia as unchangeable---fear of and hatred for Islam and Muslims or Judaism and Jews---these ideas and the social and political practices informed by them have varied greatly over time and place. They even intersected during the Middle Age and in Ottoman times when "the Jew" was frequently represented as allied with "The Muslim". The first part of this course traces the history, trajectory, and political agency of Judeophobia and Islamophobia in texts and other forms of culture from late antiquity through the present. The second part of the course is devoted to modernity and the present especially in Europe and the United States focusing on representational practices---how Muslims/Islam and Jews/Judaism are portrayed in various discourses including the media, film and on the internet. We will investigate how these figures (the Muslim, the Jew) serve as a prism through which we can understand various social, political and cultural processes and the interests of those who produce and consume them.
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JWST 2666 : Jerusalem the Holy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Crosslisted as: ARKEO 2666, NES 2666, RELST 2666 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Jeff Zorn
Jerusalem is a holy city to the adherents of the three great monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For most of its existence it has also been a national capital or major provincial center for the many states and empires which vied for control of the vital land bridge connecting Africa, Europe and Asia. Thus many of the pivotal events which shaped western civilization were played out in the streets and structures of Jerusalem. This class will explore the history, archaeology, natural topography and role of Jerusalem throughout its long life, from its earliest remains in the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4000 B.C.E.) to the 19th century, including Jebusite Jerusalem, Jerusalem as the capital of the Davidic dynasty, the Roman era city of Herod and Jesus, the Crusaders and medieval Jerusalem, and Ottoman Jerusalem as the city entered the modern era. Students will examine the original historical sources (e.g. the Bible, Josephus, the Madeba map, etc.) which pertain to Jerusalem. PowerPoint lectures will be used to illustrate the natural features, man-made monuments, and artifacts which flesh out the textual material, providing a fuller image of the world's most prominent spiritual and secular capital.
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JWST 2851 : Sex and Power in Jewish History
Crosslisted as: HIST 2851, RELST 2851 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Olga Litvak
Jewish men and women in early modern Europe lived their lives within a gendered social order inherited from the Talmudic period. The relationship between sex and power remained fundamental to Jewish communal discipline until the eighteenth century. The explosion of vernacular publishing, increasing economic and geographic mobility and the coming of emancipation challenged existing gender norms and liberated Jewish desire - well, almost. As we will see, modernity has an ambiguous effect on Jewish sexual expression and Jewish sexual politics. It is not clear that the emancipation of Jewish men had the same emancipatory effect on Jewish women. Jewish patriarchy proved unexpectedly resilient. In this course, we will explore why - despite Judaism's reputation for liberal attitudes to sex - neither most Jewish men nor many Jewish women embraced the possibilities of personal liberation from a reproductive regime of rigid self-control and near compulsory heterosexual monogamy.
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JWST 3101 : Advanced Modern Hebrew: Hebrew in a Changing World
Crosslisted as: HEBRW 3101 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Nava Scharf
Advanced study of the Hebrew Language both orally and through the analysis of mostly unedited texts of social, political, and cultural relevance with less emphasis on the study of grammar. Students are introduced to articles published in Israeli newspapers, magazines, works by authors and movies. Students develop composition and advanced writing skills by studying language structure, idioms, and various registers of style.
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JWST 3108 : Dynamics and Changes of Israeli Culture Through Language and Literature
Crosslisted as: HEBRW 3108 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Nava Scharf
This course focuses and explores the development and changes of Modern Hebrew in all aspects of Israeli and Jewish culture. The course is intended to continue the development of all aspects of the language. Emphasis, however, will be placed on speaking skills and understanding by using text material: fiction, drama in their cultural and historical context relevant to Israeli contemporary society. The instructor will be sensitive to individual student needs.
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JWST 3625 : Ancient Iraq: Cities, Migrations, and Kings
Crosslisted as: NES 3625, NES 6625 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Jonathan Tenney
This course surveys the history and cultures of ancient Mesopotamia (e.g., Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria) from the beginnings of civilization to the death of Alexander the Great. It will be taught from an interdisciplinary perspective and will rely on approaches and evidence drawn from branches of history, archaeology, world literature, and ethno-historical comparisons. Discussion centers on a number of recurrent themes: urban versus nonurban residence, population dynamics and cultural interaction, the birth of literature, and centralizing versus decentralizing political forces.
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JWST 3639 : Cultural History of the Jews of Spain
Crosslisted as: MEDVL 3639, NES 3639, RELST 3639, SPAN 3639 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Ross Brann
This course is intended to provide a survey of the cultural history of the Jews in Spain from the late Visigothic period until the converso crisis of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and the expulsion. It will focus on the interaction of Jewish with Muslim and Christian cultures and the stable yet evolving sense of a Sephardic identity. The course will establish historical and literary-critical frames for reading primary sources in translation, including secular and synagogal poetry, philosophy and kabbalah, biblical hermeneutics, historiography and polemics.
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JWST 3711 : Sitcom Jews: Ethnic Representation On Television and On Stage
Crosslisted as: AMST 3717, PMA 3711 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
David Winitsky
"Sitcom Jews" uses close media analysis, theoretical discussion, and student performances or media projects to examine the representation of Jews on television and on the Broadway stage from 1948-2017. We'll ask whether study of performed Jewish identity can serve as a locus for discussion of cultural representation at large, including African American, Latinx, Asian American and LGBT communities on screen and onstage. Starting with classic sitcoms ("The Goldbergs" (1948), "All in the Family", and "Bridget Loves Bernie"), and continuing through current Jewish TV shows ("The Marvelous Ms. Maisel", "Transparent", "Curb Your Enthusiasm"), as well as major theater landmarks ("Fiddler on the Roof", "Cabaret", "Bad Jews", "Indecent"), we will compare these constructed media images to concurrent political, historical and cultural trends.
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JWST 3805 : Israeli Politics
Crosslisted as: GOVT 3805, NES 3805 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
We are all the living dead – alive but bound to die, and know it. In this course we will learn how existential fears and anxieties shape our politics, partly through moral meaning-making. While the politics of fear is on the rise worldwide, Israel has seen it long ago. Throughout its existence, Israel has grown strong, but its existential fears have not subsided. Israel, moreover, can teach us about the role of freedom and morality in politics. Israel's existential fears, alongside the realization of choice, has prompted Zionists to seek existential legitimation. In recent years, however, a growing frustration at attainting such legitimacy has fostered "bad faith politics," substituting freedom with a sense of "no choice."
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JWST 4365 : Ethnonational Communities and Conflicts
Crosslisted as: GOVT 4365, NES 4365 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Throughout human history, and its modern incarnation, communities have clashed just as often as states. This course sheds light on ethnic communities and conflicts, explicating their historical dynamics and social intricacies. What are ethnic identities and how do they emerge? What distinguishes ethnic identity from other social identities, such as religious and ideological identities? When does ethnicity mature into ethnonationalism, and why and how does it propel conflict and political violence? What are the possible ways to prevent, manage, transform and resolve ethnic conflicts? We shall address these and related questions drawing on key insights from various disciplines, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, probing the resonance and dissonance of key theoretical arguments with the reality of that clash and of comparative conflicts.
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JWST 4468 : Jewish Ethnography: Jewish Communities Yesterday and Today
Crosslisted as: ANTHR 4468, ANTHR 7468, JWST 7468, NES 4468, NES 7468 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Jonathan Boyarin
The anthropology of Jews, Jewishness and Judaism is a wonderful laboratory for studying vital issues in the study of culture and society: textuality and orality; gender, reproduction and the cycle of generations; tradition, modernity and postmodernity; diaspora and the state; genetics and the politics of identity; forms of difference in the metropole and in colonialism. Until recent decades, there were almost no serious ethnographies of Jewish communities. Today there is a rich new literature in this field.  We will read widely to become familiar with this new literature, exploring the politics of ethnography; memoir as an ethnographic source; reflexive and auto-Jewish ethnographies; traditionalist and modernist communities; and communities spread widely through Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East.  
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JWST 6112 : Medieval Hebrew Poetry
Crosslisted as: NES 6112 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Ross Brann
Critical readings in medieval Hebrew lyrical and liturgical poetry and imaginative rhymed prose from tenth-century Islamic Spain to Renaissance and Baroque Italy.
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JWST 7468 : Jewish Ethnography: Jewish Communities Yesterday and Today
Crosslisted as: ANTHR 4468, ANTHR 7468, JWST 4468, NES 4468, NES 7468 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Jonathan Boyarin
The anthropology of Jews, Jewishness and Judaism is a wonderful laboratory for studying vital issues in the study of culture and society: textuality and orality; gender, reproduction and the cycle of generations; tradition, modernity and postmodernity; diaspora and the state; genetics and the politics of identity; forms of difference in the metropole and in colonialism. Until recent decades, there were almost no serious ethnographies of Jewish communities. Today there is a rich new literature in this field.  We will read widely to become familiar with this new literature, exploring the politics of ethnography; memoir as an ethnographic source; reflexive and auto-Jewish ethnographies; traditionalist and modernist communities; and communities spread widely through Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East.  
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