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Graduate Program



Course Offerings


Graduate Fall 2001 Courses


JS 541: Medieval Jewish Thought
JS 560: Approaches to Jewish History
JS 597R: Directed Study
JS 598R: Thesis/Exam Preparation
JS 599: Thesis
JS 730: Classical Jewish Biblical Interpretation
JS 730: Jewish Cultural Studies


JS 541-000: Medieval Jewish Thought: Religious Poetry
Blumenthal, W 7:30-10:30 p.m., MAX: 5

Content: TBA

Texts: TBA

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JS 560-000: Approaches to Jewish History (same as HIST 585-000)
Goldstein, Mon 1:00-4:00pm, MAX: 6

Content: This course will explore how traditional understandings of Jewish history in the ancient and medieval periods were transformed with the rise of modern Jewish historiography beginning in the early nineteenth century. Examining some of the classics of Jewish historical writing as well as some innovative new voices, we will explore how Jewish historiography of the last two hundred years has been shaped both by the demands of the secular academy and by the challenges and concerns of modern Jewish life: the quest for Jewish emancipation, the rise of Jewish nationalist consciousness, and the search for a home in the diaspora. We will end with a survey of trends in recent scholarship, focusing particularly on the impact of feminism, postmodernism and postzionism.

Texts: Possible texts include (but are not limited to): Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory; David Nirenberg, Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages; Gershom Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism; Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto: The Social Background of Jewish Emancipation, 1770-1880; Karla Goldman, Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism; Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999; Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man; selections from the writings of Jewish historians Heinrich Graetz, Shimon Dubnow and Salo W. Baron; and several articles on e-reserve.

Particulars: The course will require substantial reading (both assigned and individual), participation in weekly discussion, several short papers and a longer final project in which students will explore and analyze the historical literature on a topic of their choice.

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JS 597R-00P: Directed Study
Faculty, Time: TBA

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JS 598R-00P: Thesis/Exam Preparation
Faculty, Time: TBA

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JS 599-00P: Thesis
Faculty, Time: TBA

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JS 730-01P: Classical Jewish Biblical Interpretation
Gilders, Tues. 2:30-5:30pm, MAX: 10

Content: This course will provide an intensive introduction to pre-modern (ancient and medieval) Jewish biblical interpretation. We will explore the ways in which Jewish thinkers in a variety of social and cultural contexts attempted to identify and define the meaning(s) and message(s) of Scripture, to hear what the Text had to say to their particular circumstances. Our goal will be to arrive at a historically sensitive understanding of the modes and purposes of pre-modern Jewish biblical interpretation. We will also reflect on the relationship between these pre-modern modes and purposes and those of modern biblical exegesis in both academic and Jewish communal settings.

The course will begin with inner-biblical exegesis (biblical texts embodying the interpretation of other biblical texts). We will then look at examples of Jewish biblical interpretation in the Second Temple periods (e.g. "rewritten Bible," Dead Sea Scrolls pesher, Philo's allegorical exegesis). Most of our attention, however, will be given to rabbinic midrash and to the commentary literature of medieval Judaism. All readings will be available in English. However, students with the ability to read texts in Hebrew and Aramaic will be expected to do so. This course is open to undergraduates with permission of Professor Gilders (7-1826/

Texts: Ramban. Commentary on the Torah: Genesis (trans. Charles B. Chavel); Jacob Neusner, What is Midrash?; Barry Dov Walfish, Esther in Medieval Garb.

Particulars: Evaluation will be based on careful preparation of all readings, as demonstrated by full participation in class discussions, weekly response papers (posted to a Learnlink class conference), one class presentation, and a take-home examination.

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JS 730-00P: Jewish Cultural Studies
Peskowitz, Thurs. 6:00- 9:00pm, MAX: 10

Content: In recent years common assumptions in Jewish Studies scholarship have been challenged--assumptions about nationalism, gender, community, home, diaspora, race, exile, identity, and essentialized notions of Jewishness. The challenges have come from a group of writers who can be loosely described as engaging in "Jewish Cultural Studies"--scholarship intensely engaged with the questions of critical theory. These writers and scholars critically engage these common assumptions and their effects, and have begun producing new knowledge on other terms. In this course we will read the following works: Andre Aciman, ed. "Letters of Transit; Ammiel Alcalay, "Memories of our Future: Selected Essays 1982-1999; Sue Kahn, "Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel"; Amitav Ghosh, "In an Antique Land"; Riv Ellen Prell, "Fighting to Become American: Jewish Women and Jewish Men in Conflict"; Lawrence Silberstein, "The Postzionist Debates"; articles by Laura Levitt, Ann Pellegrini, Jonathan Boyarin, Daniel Boyarin. Ilan Stavans, Sander Gilman, Ella Shohat, Smadar Lavie, Ruth Behar, and others.

Requirements: Presentations of course readings; term paper that presents careful analysis of traditional scholarship in a Jewish Studies field and the recent challenges to it; more to be announced.

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View undergraduate offerings

For information on the M.A. in Jewish Studies, go to: Graduate Programs in Jewish Studies

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Last updated: October 6, 2008



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