Courses - Spring 2019

JWST 1102 Elementary Modern Hebrew II

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 1102 : Elementary Modern Hebrew II
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 2100 Intermediate Modern Hebrew

The course is aimed at training students in exact and idiomatic Hebrew, expanding vocabulary and usage of grammatical knowledge, and acquiring facility of expression in both conversation and writing. Uses written and oral exercises built around the texts. Reading and discussion of selections from Hebrew literature and Israeli culture through the use of texts and audiovisual materials.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shalom Shoer (ss66)
Full details for JWST 2100 : Intermediate Modern Hebrew
JWST 2156 Anti-Semitism and the Making of European Jewry

Does hatred have a history? Historians insist that Europe invented a tradition of hating Jews and Judaism; some go so far as to argue that the destruction of European Jewry during the Holocaust was the culmination of a thousand-year-old prejudice against Jewish difference, cultivated not only by cranks and lunatics at the margins of European discourse, but by great luminaries with a reputation for progressive, even radical, opinions. In fact, the cultural problem of Jewish difference was implicated in both the destruction and the creation of European Jewry. In this seminar, we will examine exemplary works of Europe's famous anti-Jewish canon — such as Paul's letter to the Romans, Luther's "On the Jews and their Lies," and Marx's "On the Jewish Question" — in order to contextualize a mythology of Jewish "otherness" that enflamed the anti-Jewish imagination even when there were few Jewish "others" around to hate. We will also look at critical moments in Jewish history marked by the appropriation of anti-Jewish arguments in the name of Jewish social discipline and moral authority. Through the prism of provocative Jewish texts such as the Crusade chronicles, Mendelssohn's Jerusalem and Pinsker's "Auto-emancipation" we will explore some of the ways in which the "enabling violation" of anti-semitism both constrained Jewish existence and liberated Jewish self-consciousness, turning Europe into a home for Judaism as well as a Jewish "hell on earth."

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Olga Litvak (ol76)
Full details for JWST 2156 : Anti-Semitism and the Making of European Jewry
JWST 2575 Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia

This course will survey the cultic practices and beliefs of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, the two major civilizations of Mesopotamia. We will examine the major myths of this region, e.g., Ishtar's Descent into the Netherworld, Etana, and Gilgamesh, in light of what they reveal about Mesopotamian religion, politics, and understanding of the afterlife. We will also examine the performance of magical rituals and incantations, methods of predicting the future, and the role of sacred marriage, prostitution, and slavery in the ancient temple.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Tenney (jst229)
Full details for JWST 2575 : Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia
JWST 2580 Imagining the Holocaust

How is the memory of the Holocaust kept alive by means of the literary and visual imagination? Within the historical context of the Holocaust and how and why it occurred, we shall examine major and widely read Holocaust narratives that have shaped the way we understand and respond to the Holocaust. We also study ethical and psychological issues about how and why people behave in dire circumstances. We shall begin with first-person reminiscences—Wiesel's Night, Levi's Survival at Auschwitz, and The Diary of Anne Frank—before turning to realistic fictions such as Kineally's Schindler's List (and Spielberg's film), Kertesz's Fateless, Kosinski's The Painted Bird, and Ozick's "The Shawl." We shall also read the mythopoeic vision of Schwarz-Bart's The Last of the Just, the illuminating distortions of Epstein's King of the Jews, the Kafkaesque parable of Appelfeld's Badenheim 1939, and the fantastic cartoons of Spiegelman's Maus books.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Daniel Schwarz (drs6)
Full details for JWST 2580 : Imagining the Holocaust
JWST 2793 Middle Eastern Cinema

Film industries in the Middle East, as in much of the rest of the world, emerged out of efforts at the national level. In the Arab world and Israel, the film industries reflect upon struggles of self-determination. The Iranian film industry underwent significant changes following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. By viewing a range of films from the Arab world, including North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as from Turkey, Israel, and Iran, we will consider the significance of these national rubrics and how they have shaped the work of filmmakers throughout the Middle East.   Films also reach beyond the boundaries of the nation, and so, we will consider how these films transcend national borders. On the one hand we will consider limit factors, like censorship, and the role of language and dialect on film viewership and distribution. And, on the other hand, we will consider the influence of external forces, such as the influence of foreign film markets in Europe and North America on filmmakers in the Middle East, as well as the effects of foreign financing—both from Europe and the Gulf States.  All films will be screened with English subtitles.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for JWST 2793 : Middle Eastern Cinema
JWST 3105 Life in Israel: Aspects of Israeli Society, Language and Literature

In this advanced Hebrew course we will be reading selected and relevant articles dealing with life in Israel. Students will focus on language skills and interests while paying attention to vocabulary building, grammar review, and literary analysis of modern texts.  We also will be reading stories, poetry; view and discuss Israeli TV programs and news broadcasts. Authors may include: N. Gutman, D. Shahar, O. Kastel-Bloom, E. Keret, and A. Oz.  Poets may include: Y. Amichai, D. Avidan, D. Pagis, D. Rabikovitz, N. Zack.   In addition, we will be reading a few modern children stories and will have a discussion of present-day influences on Israeli children's literature.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Nava Scharf (ns21)
Full details for JWST 3105 : Life in Israel: Aspects of Israeli Society, Language and Literature
JWST 3588 Biblical Archaeology

The purpose of the course is to place the Bible within the context of a larger ancient world that can be explored by systematic excavation of physical remains. Students will become familiar with archaeological excavations and finds from ancient Syria-Palestine from 10,000 bce to 586 bce. We will explore this archaeological evidence on its own terms, taking into consideration factors such as archaeological method and the interpretive frameworks in which the excavators themselves work, as well as the implications of this body of evidence for understanding the complexity and diversity of biblical Israel.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lauren Monroe (lm283)
Full details for JWST 3588 : Biblical Archaeology
JWST 3655 Minorities of the Middle East

This course examines the historic diversity of the modern Middle East, exploring histories of inter-communal contact and conflict. We begin by investigating the legacy of the Ottoman Empire and the impact of its dissolution. We will focus our attention on commercial centers that fostered inter-communal relations, as well as investigating sites of strife and cases of minority repression. We will read histories, memoirs, and fiction, and view films that help us better understand inter-communal relations, tensions, and conflict. We will also interrogate the terms for exploring a range distinctions among majority and minority populations including: religious difference (Muslims, Christians, and Jews); divisions of religious rite (Sunni and Shi'a); entho-linguistic minorities (Armenians and Kurds); national identities (Israelis and Palestinians); cultures of origin (Mizrahi, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi Jews). We will explore how these divisions inform urgent current conflicts: the civil war in Syria and the refugee crisis; the civil war in Iraq and the campaign by ISIS against minorities; as well as tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Deborah Starr (das86)
Full details for JWST 3655 : Minorities of the Middle East
JWST 3719 The Jewish Life of DNA

This course will explore the relationship between DNA and Jewish life. We will conceive of Jews and Judaism broadly, in terms of religious, ethnic, and national discourses as we consider theories of kinship and nationalism, definitions of ethnicity and race, the "molecularization" of human life, the use of DNA as a spiritual metaphor, the ethics of "playing God" through biomedicine, and imaginations of utopian and dystopian futures. The entangled social, political, economic, legal, metaphorical, and theological questions that DNA has raised during the twentieth century will serve as a lens to fundamental issues in Jewish Studies and Science and Technology Studies about the nature of Jewish identity and about the social and political elements of knowledge production, respectively. Our readings will combine scholarly texts with a range of primary sources, while our classroom discussions will include guest lectures by scholars from Molecular Biology and other relevant fields to discuss the religious and social implications of their research. 

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Cara Rock-Singer (cdr92)
Full details for JWST 3719 : The Jewish Life of DNA
JWST 4102 Biblical Hebrew Prose: Genesis

From the Garden of Eden to Noah's Ark, from Abraham's journey from Haran to Joseph's coat of many colors, the book of Genesis contains stories that are at once familiar to Western readers, and foreign in their ancient Near Eastern setting.  Through reading the book of Genesis in the original Hebrew, this course will address issues such as how the Israelites understood their origins, and their relationships with their God, Yahweh, their neighbors, and the land of Canaan itself, as well as how these themes are developed in biblical myth and folklore. Close attention will be paid to matters of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary in order to develop students' skills in reading biblical Hebrew prose and to enhance their understanding of the Hebrew language itself as a window on ancient Israelite thought. Students will be expected to utilize commentaries, biblical Hebrew grammars and lexicons in their preparation of assigned texts.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lauren Monroe (lm283)
Full details for JWST 4102 : Biblical Hebrew Prose: Genesis
JWST 4410 The Holocaust in Postwar Culture (1945-1961)

There is an astonishing discrepancy between our perception of the Holocaust as a central event of the twentieth century and its marginal place in postwar culture.  It is during those years, nevertheless, that the destruction of European Jews aroused an intellectual debate whose philosophical, political, and literary contributions constitute landmarks for contemporary culture and criticism.  The course will explore the reasons for such a discrepancy, reconstructing the steps of the integration of the Holocaust into our historical consciousness.  It will analyze some of the most significant attempts to think such a trauma made by German-Jewish exiles (Arendt, Adorno, Anders), the survivors of the Nazi camps (Améry, Levi, Celan, Antelme), as well as the public intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (Sartre, Bataille, MacDonald, etc).

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Enzo Traverso (vt225)
Full details for JWST 4410 : The Holocaust in Postwar Culture (1945-1961)
JWST 4473 Messiah and Modernity

This course combines Jewish religious history with studies in the philosophy of modernity, focusing on changing conceptions of time and history.  We will interrogate possible or implicit connections between traditional Jewish notions of Messianic redemption on one hand, and post-Enlightenment conceptions of revolution and progress on the other (always bearing in mind that the dominant Christian ideology in the West also has Messianic content).  Some readings will provide historical background on Jewish Messianism.  We will explore aspects of the intellectual dialogue between Walter Benjamin, a leading European thinker on literature and the philosophy of history in the first decades of the twentieth century, and his lifelong friend Gershom Scholem, founder of the scholarly study of Jewish mysticism.  We will continue by considering how post-World War II thinkers, especially on the Continent, have responded to the critique of modern ideologies of progress inaugurated by Benjamin and his friends in the so-called "Frankfurt School."

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Boyarin (jab857)
Full details for JWST 4473 : Messiah and Modernity
JWST 4533 The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City

American Jews have frequently been touted as a "model minority." This course will take a more critical look at the historical interactions between Jewish immigration, United States industrialization, and processes of social and geographical mobility—all through the prism of New York's Lower East Side, first home for over 750,000 Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere between the mid-19th century and the 1920s.  We will compare the Jewish experience to that of other immigrants/migrants by considering social institutions as well as material and other cultural practices. We will examine interactions with the built environment —most especially the tenement—in Lower East Side culture. Special attention will be paid to immigrant labor movement politics including strikes, splits, and gender in the garment trade. From the perspective of the present, the course will examine how commemoration, heritage tourism and the selling of [immigrant] history intersect with gentrifying real estate in an "iconic" New York City neighborhood. Projects using the ILR's archives on the Triangle Fire and other topics are explicitly encouraged. This course counts as an out of college elective for B. Arch and M. Arch students.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Elissa Sampson (ejs362)
Full details for JWST 4533 : The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City
JWST 4721 Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories

This course focuses on issues of conflict, peace, and reconciliation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Both regions exemplify how issues ranging from nationalism and ethnocentrism to land, water and resource management, climate change and migration, as well as socio-psychological dynamics, can exacerbate conflicts. At the same time, these regions also exemplify how trans-border collaboration and regional integration, civilian peace building efforts, strategies for achieving historical justice, as well as science education and science diplomacy can become crucial tools for long-term peace-building, reconciliation and development. In this course we will work with and discuss issues of peace and conflict with policy-makers and local stakeholders involved in peace-building efforts.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Christine Leuenberger (cal22)
Full details for JWST 4721 : Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories
JWST 4790 Spinoza and the New Spinozism

Spinoza was excommunicated, wrote under death threats, and has remained a scandal to philosophy, psychoanalysis, politics, ethics, literature. "Every philosopher has two philosophies, his own and Spinoza's" (Bergson); and "the savage anomaly" (Negri) exerted profound influence on Marx, Nietzsche, Freud. We will introduce Spinoza and his legacy, from the "atheism controversy" in the eighteenth century to today's "New Spinozists," who have been developing anti-Kantian and anti-Hegelian formulations of burning contemporary questions. With Spinoza, we ask: "What is freedom, and whose power does it serve?" (Leo Strauss)-especially if "The new world system, the ultimate third stage of capitalism is for us the absent totality, Spinoza's God or Nature, the ultimate (indeed perhaps the only) referent, the true ground of Being in our time" (Jameson).

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Geoffrey Waite (gcw1)
Full details for JWST 4790 : Spinoza and the New Spinozism
JWST 4992 Independent Study - Undergraduate

For undergraduates who wish to obtain research experience or do extensive reading on a special topic.  Students select a topic in consultation with the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the course.

Academic Career: UG Full details for JWST 4992 : Independent Study - Undergraduate
JWST 6415 The Holocaust in Postwar Culture (1945-1961)

There is an astonishing discrepancy between our perception of the Holocaust as a central event of the twentieth century and its marginal place in postwar culture.  It is during those years, nevertheless, that the destruction of European Jews aroused an intellectual debate whose philosophical, political, and literary contributions constitute landmarks for contemporary culture and criticism.  The course will explore the reasons for such a discrepancy, reconstructing the steps of the integration of the Holocaust into our historical consciousness.  It will analyze some of the most significant attempts to think such a trauma made by German-Jewish exiles (Arendt, Adorno, Anders), the survivors of the Nazi camps (Améry, Levi, Celan, Antelme), as well as the public intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (Sartre, Bataille, MacDonald, etc).

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Enzo Traverso (vt225)
Full details for JWST 6415 : The Holocaust in Postwar Culture (1945-1961)
JWST 7473 Messiah and Modernity

This course combines Jewish religious history with studies in the philosophy of modernity, focusing on changing conceptions of time and history.  We will interrogate possible or implicit connections between traditional Jewish notions of Messianic redemption on one hand, and post-Enlightenment conceptions of revolution and progress on the other (always bearing in mind that the dominant Christian ideology in the West also has Messianic content).  Some readings will provide historical background on Jewish Messianism.  We will explore aspects of the intellectual dialogue between Walter Benjamin, a leading European thinker on literature and the philosophy of history in the first decades of the twentieth century, and his lifelong friend Gershom Scholem, founder of the scholarly study of Jewish mysticism.  We will continue by considering how post-World War II thinkers, especially on the Continent, have responded to the critique of modern ideologies of progress inaugurated by Benjamin and his friends in the so-called "Frankfurt School." 

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jonathan Boyarin (jab857)
Full details for JWST 7473 : Messiah and Modernity
JWST 7533 The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City

American Jews have frequently been touted as a "model minority." This course will take a more critical look at the historical interactions between Jewish immigration, United States industrialization, and processes of social and geographical mobility—all through the prism of New York's Lower East Side, first home for over 750,000 Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere between the mid-19th century and the 1920s.  We will compare the Jewish experience to that of other immigrants/migrants by considering social institutions as well as material and other cultural practices. We will examine interactions with the built environment —most especially the tenement—in Lower East Side culture. Special attention will be paid to immigrant labor movement politics including strikes, splits, and gender in the garment trade. From the perspective of the present, the course will examine how commemoration, heritage tourism and the selling of [immigrant] history intersect with gentrifying real estate in an "iconic" New York City neighborhood. Projects using the ILR's archives on the Triangle Fire and other topics are explicitly encouraged. This course counts as an out of college elective for B. Arch and M. Arch students.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Elissa Sampson (ejs362)
Full details for JWST 7533 : The Lower East Side: Jews and the Immigrant City