Fall 2014 Courses

History | Jewish Studies | Sociology | Religion | MESAAS | Yiddish/Germanic Languages and Literatures | Film Studies




HIST W4601 Jews in the Later Roman Empire

Call Number: 69052 Points: 4
Day/Time: M 2:10pm-4:00pm Location: TBD
Notes: Instructor Permission Required: See Undergrad Seminar Section of Department’s Website
Instructor: Seth R Schwartz


This course will explore the background and examine some of the manifestations of the first Jewish cultural explosion after 70 CE. Among the topics discussed: the Late Roman state and the Jews, the rise of the synagogue, the redaction of the Palestinian Talmud and midrashim, the piyyut and the Hekhalot.


HIST W3657 Medieval Jewish Cultures

Call Number: 60951 Points: 3
Day/Time: MW 11:40am-12:55pm Location: TBD
Instructor: Elisheva Carlebach


This course will survey some of the major historical, cultural, intellectual and social developments among Jews from the fourth century CE through the fifteenth. We will study Jewish cultures from the Christianization of the Roman Empire, the age of the Talmuds, the rise of Islam, the world of the Geniza, medieval Spain, to the early modern period. We will look at a rich variety of primary texts and images, including mosaics, poems, prayers, polemics, and personal letters.

HIST W3628 History of the State of Israel, 1948-Present

Call Number: 10143 Points: 3
Day/Time: TR 10:10am-11:25am Location: TBD
Instructor: Michael F Stanislawski


 The political, cultural, and social history of the State of Israel from its founding in 1948 to the present. 


HIST W4609 Marriage and Kinship in Medieval Egypt

Call Number 86533 Points: 4

Day/Time: T 11:00am-12:50pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Eve Krakowski


How distinctively “Jewish” was the social world of ordinary Jews in the Middle Ages? To what extent did medieval Jews order their lives around the norms expressed in elite religious texts? How closely did their basic social values and cultural assumptions resemble those held by their Christian and Muslim neighbors? Thanks to the documentary Cairo Geniza, a huge corpus of medieval documents preserved by chance in an Egyptian synagogue, we are better positioned to answer these questions with regard to Jews in tenth- to thirteenth-century Egypt and Syria than for any other pre-modern Jewish society.


This class will explore the everyday culture reflected in the Geniza manuscripts through the lens of kinship relations and family life. The course will introduce a range of genres of Geniza documents (court records, contracts and deeds, legal responsa, and personal letters). We will read examples of these documents alongside contemporary Jewish legal and literary works, Islamic literature, and recent work in medieval Islamic social history. Taking a comparative approach to this material, we will work to understand how the authors of these documents understood marriage, divorce, and parenthood, and how these relationships positioned individuals economically and socially within the broader communities in which they lived. In the process, you will learn how to use documents and literary sources as evidence for social history, as well as learn a great deal about Jews’ everyday life in medieval Egypt.




JWST G4250 The Jewish Polity in Mandate Palestine (the Yishuv): Economic and Social Aspects

Call Number: 12347 Points: 4

Day/Time: R 4:10pm-6:00pm Location: 513 Fayerweather

Instructor: David De Vries


The history of modern Palestine has for long been dominated by political history and the history of the national conflict. Without discarding the primacy of politics this seminar diverts attention to social and economic history, to the social bases of the Arab-Jewish conflict, and of the Zionist project in Palestine in particular. The seminar focuses on the history of the Yishuv – the Jewish polity in Palestine under British rule (1917-1947). Economic and social process, structures, social agents and ideologies are placed in Mandate Palestine's political and national-conflict contexts. Discussion begins with major themes, sources and historiography. It then focuses on developments in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, until the founding of the State of Israel. Each decade analysis mixes ideologies and perceptions, with material processes and social conflicts.


JWST G4125 The Holocaust and Its Literary Representation

Call Number: 24695 Points: 4

Day/Time: R 4:00pm - 6:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Alan Mintz


The course explores how the literary imagination has grappled with  the destruction of European Jewry. Responses to the Holocaust written within the ghettoes during the war will be compared to responses composed at different removes in time from the catastrophe. The course will follow the shaping of Holocaust memory within two distinct national settings: America and Israel. Among the writers we will read are Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, Art Spiegelman, Philip Roth, Aharon Appelfeld, Dan Pagis, David Grossman, Ida Fink and W. G. Sebald.


JWST G4610 Environment and Sustainability in Israel – Between the Local and the Regional

Call Number: 91198 Points: 4

Day/Time: R 6:10pm-8:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Shahar Sadeh


Since the establishment of the state of Israel, and even prior to it, the land has been subject to massive spatial and demographic change. Rapid development, mass immigration waves, high rates of natural growth, conflicts and wars, local and regional political processes, all created a complex web of environmental challenges and problems, as well as environmental achievements. Hence, Israel's current environmental situation and the level of environmental protection that exists in it have much to do with past political decisions. Obviously, those decisions were influenced by the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict.


By utilizing the concept of Sustainable Development the course will provide a bidirectional overview of environmental politics in Israel: We will explore the role of the environment in past and present political processes, and the way it was affected by such process. More specifically, the course will explore the relationship between the environment and Zionism as it was manifested during the nation-building process; Sustainable development in Israel; The environmental movement; Environmental education in Israel; Urbanism; The Israeli-Arab conflict and the environment; The role the environment in past peace negotiations; and the ways in which political conflicts create, sustain and escalate environmental problems.




SOCI W3930 Immigration and Ethnicity in Israel

Call Number: 29729 Points: 4
Day/Time: M 10:10am-12:00pm Location: TBD
Instructor: Yinon Cohen


This seminar will focus on migration patterns to and from Israel and their effect on the ethnic composition and cleavages in Israeli society. We will discuss Jewish immigration and emigration in the pre-state period, Arab forced migration in 1948, Jewish immigration to Israel until the 1967 war, and migration patterns from the late 1960s until the present. In addition, we will discuss Jewish emigration from Israel, which is viewed as a major social problem. The focus will be on the number of emigrants, their composition, the causes for emigration, return migration, and on the question of the brain drain from contemporary Israel.




RELI W4518 The Formation of the Talmud

Call Number: 73598 Points: 4

Day/Time: T 6:10pm-8:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Ari Bergmann


This seminar will explore the various theories about the formation of the Talmud, from the traditional view of Y. I. Halevy in Dorot Harishonim to the contemporary models of D. W. Halivni and Shamma Friedman. We will analyze their theories and their literary evidence while applying their models to the critical reading of the text. We will then explore a model which combines these theories in light of the oral matrix of the Talmud during its early phase. All texts will be read in the original but translations will be provided.


RELI W4522 The Production of Jewish Difference from Antiquity to the Present

Call Number: 06509 Points: 4

Day/Time: T 2:10pm – 4:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Beth Berkowitz


Explores how Jews from antiquity to modernity have struggled to create a distinct Jewish identity in the context of dominant non-Jewish cultures. Examines the interpretive history of Leviticus 18:3, "...and in their laws you shall not go," a verse that instructs Israel to be different from surrounding peoples. Considers Bible-reading as a means for creating identity and highlights the dynamics of negative identity definition (the self/Other binary). Emphasis is on primary texts from the Bible to modern Jewish legal responsa, but contemporary scholarship will accompany the sources.


RELI V2505 Intro to JudaismM

Call Number: 06829 Points: 3

Day/Time: MW 10:10am-11:25am Location: TBD

Instructor: Beth Berkowitz


Historical overview of Jewish belief and practice as these have crystallized and changed over the centuries.  Special attention to ritual and worship, the forms of religious literature, central concepts, religious leadership at institutions, Israel among the nations.




MDES W1510 1st Year Modern Hebrew: ELEM I

Section 001

Call Number: 72376 Points: 5

Day/Time: MTWR 11:40am-12:45pm Location: TBD


MDES W1510 1st Year Modern Hebrew: ELEM I

Section 002

Call Number: 12222 Points: 5

Day/Time: MTWR 1:10pm-2:15pm Location: TBD


MDES W1512 2nd Year Modern Hebrew: INTER I

Section 001        

Call Number: 10671 Points: 5

Day/Time: MTWR 1:10pm-2:15pm Location: TBD


MDES W1512 2nd Year Modern Hebrew: INTER I

Section 002

Call Number: 62734 Points: 5   Textbook Information

Day/Time: MTWR 11:40am-12:45pm Location: TBD


MDES W4510 3rd Year Modern Hebrew I

Section 001        

Call Number: 63675 Points: 4

Day/Time: TR 9:00am-10:50am Location: TBD

Instructor: Nehama R Bersohn


MDES W1517 Hebrew for Heritage Speakers I

Call Number: 81547 Points: 4

Day/Time: MTWR 12:00pm-12:50pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Nehama R Bersohn


MDES G6530 Dynamics of Israeli Culture: Poetry

Call Number: 68880 Points: 3

Day/Time: TBD Location: TBD

Instructor: Dan Miron


The course will survey the development of Israeli Literature within three time sections and along the evolving process of its three main genres. The time sections are those a) the birth of Israeli literature in the aftermath of the 1948 War (the 1950s); b)the maturation of Israeli literature during the 1960s and 1970s; c) Israeli Literature in the era of the peace process and the Intifadas (1980s and 1990s). The genres are those of lyrical poetry, prose fiction (mainly novels), and drama. The course will also follow the crystallization of three sets of Israeli poetics: the conservative (realistic) one, the modernist, and the post-modernist ones. All texts will be available in English translations. Participation does not depend on former knowledge of Hebrew or Israeli literature.


MDES W3542 Intro to Israeli Literature

Call Number: 80946 Points: 3  

Day/Time: MW 2:40pm-3:55pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Dan Miron


The course traces the development of Israeli literature since its inception in the 1940s to the end of the twentieth century. It ponders the why and the how of its separation from the earlier Hebrew literature, focuses the new issues it tackled and the new themes and forms in which these issues were expressed. Both major poets (Alterman, Amicahi, Zach, Ravikovich et al.), and major novelists (Yizhar, Shamir, Oz, Yehoshua, Shabtai, et al.) will be discussed. Texts can be read in the original Hebrew or in English translations.




YIDD W1101 Elementary Yiddish I

Call Number: 12098 Points: 4

Day/Time: MW 2:10pm-4:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Agnieszka Legutko


YIDD W1102 Elementary Yiddish II

Call Number: 19959 Points: 4

Day/Time: MW 2:10pm-4:00pm Location: TBD


YIDD W1201 Intermediate Yiddish I

Call Number: 62819 Points: 4

Day/Time: TR 10:10am-12:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Agnieszka Legutko


YIDD W3800 Readings in Yiddish Lit (ENG)

Call Number: 26048 Points: 3

Day/Time: M 4:10pm-6:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Jeremy Dauber

Readings in modern Yiddish literature, focusing on the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


YIDD G9502 Seminar in Yiddish Studies

Call Number: 78280 Points: 3

Day/Time: M 4:10pm-6:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor: Jeremy Dauber

Readings in modern Yiddish literature, focusing on the late 19th and early 20th centuries.



FILM W4145 Topics in World Cinema: Contemporary Israeli Film

Call Number: 78781 Points: 3

Day/Time: M 6:10pm-9:00pm Location: TBD

Instructor:  Raz Yosef


The last decade has marked the growing visibility and worldwide interest in Israeli cinema. Films such as Yossi and JaggerOrMy TreasureBeaufort , and Waltz with Bashir have been commercially and critically successful both in Europe and the United States and have won a number of prestigious international awards. The course will examine the new ideological and aesthetic trends in contemporary Israeli cinema. One of the most striking phenomena in contemporary Israeli cinema is the number and scope of films dealing with past traumatic events – events that were repressed or insufficiently mourned, such as the memory of the Holocaust, traumas from wars and terrorist attacks, and the losses entailed by the experience of immigration. Traumatic events from Israeli society’s past are represented as the private memory of distinct social groups: soldiers, immigrants, women, gays. These groups feel duty-bound to remember the past, recasting repressed memories through the cinema in order to return and to give meaning to their identity. The course will explore these issues, critically viewing contemporary Israeli films and using feminist, postmodern and trauma and memory theories.

Created by WDI