Courses

Courses by semester

Courses for Spring 2022

Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .

Course ID Title Offered
JWST1102 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.

Full details for JWST 1102 - Elementary Modern Hebrew II

Spring.
JWST1777 Elementary Yiddish II Intended for advanced beginners. Builds further competence in reading, writing, oral comprehension, speaking and grammar. Course material is presented and discussed in the context of Ashkenazi Jewish culture.

Full details for JWST 1777 - Elementary Yiddish II

Spring.
JWST2100 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.

Full details for JWST 2100 - Intermediate Modern Hebrew

Spring.
JWST2644 Introduction to Judaism This course is an introduction to Jewish identities, values, and practices from the ancient to modern era. Organized thematically, it examines Judaism as a religious phenomenon, with a particular emphasis on its cultural and textual diversity across three millennia. Themes covered include creation, Sabbath, prayer, Jerusalem, pious customs, magic, reincarnation, revelation, among others. Throughout the semester students perform close readings of a wide selection of Jewish texts from the Bible, Talmud, kabbalah (mysticism), philosophy, liturgy, and modern Jewish thought. In what ways are these various traditions of Judaism interrelated and/or in tension with one another? In the face of the Jewish history's tremendous diversity, what is it that has unified Judaism and the Jewish people over the centuries? By exploring these types of questions, this course examines the appropriateness of defining Judaism as a religion, an ethnicity, a civilization, and/or a culture. Readings include introductory-level textbooks and essays, as well as a range of primary source materials in translation.

Full details for JWST 2644 - Introduction to Judaism

Spring.
JWST2790 Jewish Films and Filmmakers: Hollywood and Beyond What does it mean to call a film is "Jewish"? Does it have to represent Jewish life? Does it have to feature characters identifiable as Jews? If artists who identify as Jews—actors, directors, screenwriters, composers—play significant roles in a film's production does that make it Jewish? Our primary point of entry into these questions will be Hollywood, from the industry's early silent films, through the period generally considered classical, down to the present day. We will also study films produced overseas, in countries that may include Israel, Egypt, France, Italy, and Germany. Our discussions will be enriched by contextual material drawn from film studies, cultural studies, Jewish studies, American studies, and other related fields. Students will be expected to view a significant number of films outside of class—an average of one per week—and engage with them through writing and in-class discussion. The directors, screenwriters, composers, and actors whose work we will study may include: Charlie Chaplin, Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, Fanny Brice, Billy Wilder, Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Aviva Kempner, Joan Micklin Silver, the Marx Brothers, and the Coen Brothers.

Full details for JWST 2790 - Jewish Films and Filmmakers: Hollywood and Beyond

Spring.
JWST2853 The Law in Jewish History Before Jewish politics, Jewish identity and Jewish philosophy, there was Jewish law. No other institution is more important to the history of Judaism and to the Jewish way of life. In this lecture course, we will explore the ways in which legal thought and legal discourse shaped Jewish experience and expression between the biblical age and the computer age. We will discover how the cultural meaning of law changed over time, how legal concepts shaped Jewish belief and Jewish behavior, and how the study of Jewish legal sources contributed to the emergence of modern constitutional thought in the Atlantic world.

Full details for JWST 2853 - The Law in Jewish History

Spring.
JWST2958 Empires and Vampires: History of Eastern Europe In the course we will study the history of the lands, peoples, and states of Eastern Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries as an integral part of modern Europlean and global history. We will ask what the East European experience can teach us about larger questions of cause and effect, agency in history, continuties and ruptures, the interplay between institutions, states and individuals, and the relationship between culture and politics. The course will define the region broadly, to include the lands stretching from today's Ukraine to Poland and the Balkans. But given the constant flux in borders, demographics, and sovereignities of this region, we will have to continually reconsider what and where Eastern Europe was. We will survey key periods in the region's history, looking closely at cases from across Eastern Europe. We will learn about institutions, large-scale processes, personalities, events, cultural artifacts, and ideas using a combination of narrative history and literary essays, primary documents, works of fiction, and films.

Full details for JWST 2958 - Empires and Vampires: History of Eastern Europe

Spring.
JWST3102 Advanced Modern Hebrew II This is the second course in our third-year Modern Hebrew language sequence. Like its predecessor, it focuses on developing speech proficiency, reading and listening comprehension, and writing. It does this through reading of a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts; viewing of filmic works and television series selected for their social, political, and cultural relevance; class discussions; presentations and writing about everyday issues in Israel and abroad.

Full details for JWST 3102 - Advanced Modern Hebrew II

Spring.
JWST3717 Modern Sephardi and Mizrahi Identities This class examines modern articulations of identity by and about two distinct Jewish diasporas: Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. Sephardic Jews trace their origins to the Iberian Peninsula prior to the end of the 15th century. Mizrahim are Jews who lived in the Middle East and North Africa until the mid-20th century, and their descendants. We will explore Sephardic and Mizrahi identities in works of fiction, memoirs, essays, poetry and films produced from the mid-twentieth century to the present. We will trace routes of migration across generations, paying particular attention to how texts construct identity in relation to language and place. Works will be drawn from wide geographic distribution including the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and produced in Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Ladino, and Spanish.

Full details for JWST 3717 - Modern Sephardi and Mizrahi Identities

Spring.
JWST3720 Women in Biblical Israel This course focuses on how Biblical texts represent women in ancient Israel, and how the Bible's representations constitute both a fabrication and a manifestation of social life on the ground.  We will use biblical, archaeological, and ancient Near Eastern textual evidence to consider the complicated relationship between ancient society and the textual and material records from which we reconstruct it. In addition, this course will examine how women's roles in the Hebrew Bible have been understood and integrated in later Jewish and Christian thought, and how these discourses shape contemporary American attitudes towards women, sexuality, and gender.

Full details for JWST 3720 - Women in Biblical Israel

Spring.
JWST3888 Jews, Christians, and Others in Late Antiquity This course explores the interactions between Jews, Christians, and other religious groups in late antiquity, especially in Sasanian Persia circa the first through seventh century C.E. Students pay particular attention to the portrayals of Christians in Jewish rabbinic literature, including Midrash and Talmud, but also draw from early Christian, Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and other sources. There will be an emphasis on the reading of primary texts in translation in their appropriate historical contexts, and in comparison with one another. Students engage such questions as: How did Jews define themselves in relation to Christians, and vice versa? In what ways did Jews and Christians part ways with one another, as scholars often maintain, and what were the factors at play in their separation? And, lastly, what role did other religious and political groups, such as Gnostics, Zoroastrians, Romans, Mandaeans, Manichaeans, and early Muslims play in these developments?

Full details for JWST 3888 - Jews, Christians, and Others in Late Antiquity

Spring.
JWST4102 Topics in Biblical Hebrew Prose Seminar covering a topic in Biblical Hebrew prose.

Full details for JWST 4102 - Topics in Biblical Hebrew Prose

Spring.
JWST4195 Identity Politics in the Ibero-Atlantic This seminar explores the politics of identity-making by analyzing the role that identity played in the social and cultural developments that shaped the Ibero-Atlantic. Our primary focus will be on the interplay between pre-formed identities circulating in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and the construction of a politics of empire that engendered new forms of identity and socio-cultural patterns across Spanish and Portuguese realms from the fifteenth century onward. Weekly readings and discussions will draw on recent scholarly debates on the interplay of race, ethnicity, slavery, class, gender, sexuality, religion, law and cultural performance, to trace how a variety of individuals and political institutions confronted an increasingly multi-plex social landscape. And we will reflect on how the identity politics that such historical actors developed and deployed in the process ultimately gave shape to the social dynamics of the early modern Atlantic World and produced long-lasting reverberations into the era of the modern nation state.

Full details for JWST 4195 - Identity Politics in the Ibero-Atlantic

Spring.
JWST4721 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.

Full details for JWST 4721 - Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories

Spring.
JWST4742 Dying for God: Judaism, Christianity and the Meaning of Martyrdom Martyrdom is one of the most troubling legacies of monotheistic belief. The idea and the practice of martyrdom remain with us, despite the inroads of secularization into every other aspect of Judaism and Christianity. Thanks to the global reach of mass media, martyrs continually intrude upon our consciousness. The willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice inspires, enrages and terrifies us. Where did this controversial ideal originate and why has it gained such enormous cultural power? This course examines the beginnings of martyrdom in the ancient Mediterranean, the cradle of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism. Looking closely at the historical context - the intellectual, social and political developments — that gave rise to the iconic figure of the martyr in the world of late antiquity, we will explore how men and women came to embrace the opportunity of "dying for God," and why the cult of martyrdom became a public institution. Ancient people viewed the spectacle of martyrdom with an equal measure of admiration and alarm; looking closely at evidence of their ambivalence, we will gain some perspective on our own mixed feelings about this deeply disconcerting phenomenon.

Full details for JWST 4742 - Dying for God: Judaism, Christianity and the Meaning of Martyrdom

Spring.
JWST4767 Natural History of Religion How does nature and the environment shape religious traditions?   And what impacts do religious thought and practice have on the environment?   These two questions are at the heart of this seminar in which we will explore the many relationships between religion and the environment throughout history and in our present time.   Water, weather, trees, stones, fire, mountains, deserts, and animals are some of the ecological features we will discuss in connection with religious traditions across time and space.   Readings will include scriptural texts from world religions, archival sources like historical newspapers and documents, and ancient and modern poetry and fiction in dialogue with writings by eco-critics, environmental historians, and naturalists.   Material culture will also be important for our work together.

Full details for JWST 4767 - Natural History of Religion

Spring.
JWST4992 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.

Full details for JWST 4992 - Independent Study - Undergraduate

Spring.
JWST6195 Identity Politics in the Ibero-Atlantic This seminar explores the politics of identity-making by analyzing the social, cultural, and political developments that shaped the Ibero-Atlantic. Our primary focus will be on the interplay between pre-formed identities circulating in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and the construction of a politics of empire that engendered new forms of identity across Spanish and Portuguese realms from the fifteenth century onward. Weekly readings and discussions will draw on recent scholarly debates on the interplay of race, ethnicity, slavery, class, gender, sexuality, religion, law and cultural performance, to trace how political institutions and individuals confronted these layers of a complex and multi-faceted social landscape. And we will reflect on how the identity politics developed by these historical actors gave shape to the early modern Atlantic World and have had long-lasting reverberations into the era of the modern nations state.

Full details for JWST 6195 - Identity Politics in the Ibero-Atlantic

Spring.
JWST6720 Women in Biblical Israel This course focuses on how Biblical texts represent women in ancient Israel, and how the Bible's representations constitute both a fabrication and a manifestation of social life on the ground.  We will use biblical, archaeological, and ancient Near Eastern textual evidence to consider the complicated relationship between ancient society and the textual and material records from which we reconstruct it. In addition, this course will examine how women's roles in the Hebrew Bible have been understood and integrated in later Jewish and Christian thought, and how these discourses shape contemporary American attitudes towards women, sexuality, and gender. 

Full details for JWST 6720 - Women in Biblical Israel

JWST6742 Dying for God: Judaism, Christianity and the Meaning of Martyrdom Martyrdom is one of the most troubling legacies of monotheistic belief. The idea and the practice of martyrdom remain with us, despite the inroads of secularization into every other aspect of Judaism and Christianity. Thanks to the global reach of mass media, martyrs continually intrude upon our consciousness. The willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice inspires, enrages and terrifies us. Where did this controversial ideal originate and why has it gained such enormous cultural power? This course examines the beginnings of martyrdom in the ancient Mediterranean, the cradle of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism. Looking closely at the historical context - the intellectual, social and political developments — that gave rise to the iconic figure of the martyr in the world of late antiquity, we will explore how men and women came to embrace the opportunity of "dying for God," and why the cult of martyrdom became a public institution. Ancient people viewed the spectacle of martyrdom with an equal measure of admiration and alarm; looking closely at evidence of their ambivalence, we will gain some perspective on our own mixed feelings about this deeply disconcerting phenomenon.

Full details for JWST 6742 - Dying for God: Judaism, Christianity and the Meaning of Martyrdom

Spring.
JWST6767 Natural History of Religion How does nature and the environment shape religious traditions?   And what impacts do religious thought and practice have on the environment?   These two questions are at the heart of this seminar in which we will explore the many relationships between religion and the environment throughout history and in our present time.   Water, weather, trees, stones, fire, mountains, deserts, and animals are some of the ecological features we will discuss in connection with religious traditions across time and space.   Readings will include scriptural texts from world religions, archival sources like historical newspapers and documents, and ancient and modern poetry and fiction in dialogue with writings by eco-critics, environmental historians, and naturalists.   Material culture will also be important for our work together.

Full details for JWST 6767 - Natural History of Religion

Spring.
JWST6777 Modern Sephardi and Mizrahi Identities This class examines modern articulations of identity by and about two distinct Jewish diasporas: Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. Sephardic Jews trace their origins to the Iberian Peninsula prior to the end of the 15th century. Mizrahim are Jews who lived in the Middle East and North Africa until the mid-20th century, and their descendants. We will explore Sephardic and Mizrahi identities in works of fiction, memoirs, essays, poetry and films produced from the mid-twentieth century to the present. We will trace routes of migration across generations, paying particular attention to how texts construct identity in relation to language and place. Works will be drawn from wide geographic distribution including the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and produced in Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Ladino, and Spanish.

Full details for JWST 6777 - Modern Sephardi and Mizrahi Identities

Spring.
JWST6888 Jews, Christians, and Others in Late Antiquity This course explores the interactions between Jews, Christians, and other religious groups in late antiquity, especially in Sasanian Persia circa the first through seventh century C.E. Students pay particular attention to the portrayals of Christians in Jewish rabbinic literature, including Midrash and Talmud, but also draw from early Christian, Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and other sources. There will be an emphasis on the reading of primary texts in translation in their appropriate historical contexts, and in comparison with one another. Students engage such questions as: How did Jews define themselves in relation to Christians, and vice versa? In what ways did Jews and Christians part ways with one another, as scholars often maintain, and what were the factors at play in their separation? And, lastly, what role did other religious and political groups, such as Gnostics, Zoroastrians, Romans, Mandaeans, Manichaeans, and early Muslims play in these developments?

Full details for JWST 6888 - Jews, Christians, and Others in Late Antiquity

Spring.
Top