Courses - Fall 2018

JWST 1101 Elementary Modern Hebrew I

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.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shalom Shoer (ss66)
Full details for JWST 1101 : Elementary Modern Hebrew I
JWST 1103 Elementary Modern Hebrew III

Sequel to HEBRW 1101-HEBRW 1102. Continued development of reading, writing, grammar, oral comprehension, and speaking skills.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shalom Shoer (ss66)
Full details for JWST 1103 : Elementary Modern Hebrew III
JWST 1987 FWS: Jews on Film: Visible and Invisible

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.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Elliot Shapiro (ehs9)
Full details for JWST 1987 : FWS: Jews on Film: Visible and Invisible
JWST 2155 The Invention of Religion

Religion is a term with a rich history but without a precise definition. Everyone can describe a religious idea or a religious experience even though there is no agreement about what it is that makes an idea or an experience religious. How did this state of things come about? What is it that makes religion both one thing and many things? Why do we apply this concept to Christianity, Islam and Judaism and to the deep feelings we associate with secular forms of devotion and enthusiasm — for food, for love, for family, for art, for sport? In this seminar, we will discover that religion is a distinctly modern concept, developed to address the psychological and social needs of Europeans increasingly adrift from the traditional communal practices and moral commitments of their parents and grandparents. Tracing the history of "religion" — rather than the history of religions — from the age of Immanuel Kant to the age of Emmanuel Levinas, we will examine paradoxical connection between the rise of religion and the decline of faith.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Olga Litvak (ol76)
Full details for JWST 2155 : The Invention of Religion
JWST 2501 Kosher and Halal Food Regulations

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.            

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Joe Regenstein (jmr9)
Full details for JWST 2501 : Kosher and Halal Food Regulations
JWST 2601 An Introduction to the Ancient Near East

The pyramids and mummies of Egypt, the ziggurats of Babylonia, and the armies of Assyria are all part of the legacy of the ancient Near East. This course serves as a basic introduction to the history, societies, and cultures of the major civilizations of the ancient world from c. 3300-300 B.C., focusing on Egypt and Mesopotamia but including lesser-known groups such as the Hittites in Anatolia and the Elamites in Iran. Students will learn how these states were organized, how each culture related to their gods, and how they chose to be remembered, as well as many other mysteries of the ancient world.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Tenney (jst229)
Full details for JWST 2601 : An Introduction to the Ancient Near East
JWST 2644 Introduction to Judaism

Jewish communities have been established, flourished and often struggled for millennia, throughout much of the world, and in vital contact with a vast range of other peoples and cultures. This course examines the constant and dynamic tension between that which unites Jews in all these different times and places, and that which makes every Jew a person of his or her own time and place. Our whirlwind tour will take us from ancient Israel, through Babylonia and the world of early Islam, into the medieval origins of Ashkenazi Jewry, down to Ottoman North Africa, and all the way across the Indian Ocean. We will learn how Jewish and other diaspora communities overcome challenges to maintain their distinctive identities, how to engage critically with the ways contemporary scholars the records of these far-flung communities, and how to generate their own critical questions.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Olga Litvak (ol76)
Full details for JWST 2644 : Introduction to Judaism
JWST 2724 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is a repository of ancient Israelite religious, political, social, historical, and literary traditions. For the modern reader these ancient traditions are often obscured by a focus on the text as revelation. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the biblical world by reading the Hebrew Bible in translation, on its own terms, as a body of literature that evolved in an ancient Near Eastern context. The Bible itself will be the primary text for the course, but students will also be exposed to the rich and diverse textual traditions of the ancient Near East, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Moab, and Ugarit. In addition, this course will explore the impact of early biblical interpretation on shaping the monotheistic traditions inherited in the West. As participants in a secular course on the Bible, students will be challenged to question certain cultural assumptions about the composition and authorship of the Bible, and will be expected to differentiate between a text's content and its presumed meaning.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lauren Monroe (lm283)
Full details for JWST 2724 : Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
JWST 2754 Wondrous Literatures of the Near East

This course examines Near East's rich and diverse literary heritage. We will read a selection of influential and wondrous texts from ancient to modern times, spanning geographically from the Iberian peninsula to Iran. We will trace three major threads: myths of creation and destruction; travel narratives; and poetry of love and devotion. Together we will read and discuss such ancient works as the 'Epic of Gilgamesh' and 'The Song of Songs,' as well as selections from medieval works such as the 'Travels' of Ibn Battuta, the 'Shahnameh' of Ferdowsi, poetry of Yehuda HaLevi, and The Thousand and One Nights. The modern unit will include work by Egyptian Nobel Laureate, Naguib Mahfouz. Students will also have the opportunity to research and analyze primary source materials in the collections of Cornell Rare Books and Manuscript Collection, and the Johnson Art Museum. All material is in English translation.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for JWST 2754 : Wondrous Literatures of the Near East
JWST 3101 Advanced Modern Hebrew: Special Topics in Hebrew

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.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Nava Scharf (ns21)
Full details for JWST 3101 : Advanced Modern Hebrew: Special Topics in Hebrew
JWST 3104 Dynamics and Changes of Israeli Culture and Language

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.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Nava Scharf (ns21)
Full details for JWST 3104 : Dynamics and Changes of Israeli Culture and Language
JWST 3525 Palestinians in Israel

This course examines the political, intellectual, and cultural expression of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Referred to by the Arab media as "1948 Arabs" or "Arabs within" and by the Israeli media as "Israeli Arabs" or "the Arab sector," this community is marginalized and often overlooked. Our discussions will be situated within the context of the history of the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts: the events of 1948-9 (Israeli Independence, the Nakba, the first Arab-Israeli War); the transformations wrought by the 1967 Arab-Israeli war; and the impact on Palestinian-Israelis of the first and second Intifada. We will also look at the status of Palestinian citizens within Israeli civil society: from the era of military rule (1948-1966) to the present. Our primary focus will be exploring words and images produced by Palestinian-Israeli writers, intellectuals, filmmakers, and artists to understand how members of this marginalized community assert their identities as both Palestinian and Israeli. All course materials are in English.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for JWST 3525 : Palestinians in Israel
JWST 3711 Sitcom Jews: Ethnic Representation On Television and On Stage

"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.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: David Winitsky (daw2)
Full details for JWST 3711 : Sitcom Jews: Ethnic Representation On Television and On Stage
JWST 4180 The Imaginary Jew: Roots of Antisemitism in Medieval England

When did anti-Semitism begin? The medieval period invented shocking fictions about Jews—that they killed and ate Christian babies; that they desecrated the Host; that they were the murderers of Christ. In manuscripts Jews were visually compared to beasts, devils, and perverts. By law, Jews were forced to live in ghettos, wear distinctive dress, abstain from certain professions, and suffer exile. Beginning with Shakespeare's Shylock, we will work our way back through visual and literary treatments of Jews in the Middle Ages, reading texts by Chaucer, chronicles, miracle stories, crusader romances, and mystery plays. Drawing on recent theories of the other we will also consider how medieval representations of Jews and other minorities were used to construct medieval communal, religious, and political identities.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Samantha Zacher (sz66)
Full details for JWST 4180 : The Imaginary Jew: Roots of Antisemitism in Medieval England
JWST 4626 Reinventing Biblical Narrative

Narratives, particularly sacred narratives, are not static or fixed but rather infinitely flexible and malleable.   Subject to multiple retellings—elaborations, modifications, and deletions—stories take on lives of their own even after they come to be written down. What happens to sacred stories when they are heard and read by different communities of interpreters? This is the broad question at the heart of this course, which will explore the diverse interpretations of biblical narratives (e.g., stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and his disciples, Joseph and Mary) found in Jewish and Christian literature from the second century BCE through the 6th century and beyond.  Writers like the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo and the Jewish historian Josephus, Jewish and Christian pseudepigrapha and apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, gnostic literature, early rabbinic literature, and Christian patristic writers—these are some of the sources that we will study in this class.    At the conclusion of the seminar, we will explore briefly the retellings of biblical stories and use of biblical characters in the early Islamic materials, especially the Qur'an.    Throughout the semester, we will consider the historical contexts of biblical interpretation and the production, transmission, and use of texts in antiquity, including questions about literacy and orality, education, and the physical forms of ancient books.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Kim Haines-Eitzen (kjh10)
Full details for JWST 4626 : Reinventing Biblical Narrative
JWST 6180 The Imaginary Jew: Roots of Antisemitism in Medieval England

When did anti-Semitism begin? The medieval period invented shocking fictions about Jews—that they killed and ate Christian babies; that they desecrated the Host; that they were the murderers of Christ. In manuscripts Jews were visually compared to beasts, devils, and perverts. By law, Jews were forced to live in ghettos, wear distinctive dress, abstain from certain professions, and suffer exile. Beginning with Shakespeare's Shylock, we will work our way back through visual and literary treatments of Jews in the Middle Ages, reading texts by Chaucer, chronicles, miracle stories, crusader romances, and mystery plays. Drawing on recent theories of the other we will also consider how medieval representations of Jews and other minorities were used to construct medieval communal, religious, and political identities.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Samantha Zacher (sz66)
Full details for JWST 6180 : The Imaginary Jew: Roots of Antisemitism in Medieval England