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Graduate Program



Course Offerings


Graduate Fall 2004 Courses


JS 530: Biblical Literacy
JS 540H: Midrash
JS 597R: Directed Study
JS 598R: Thesis/Exam Preparation
JS 730R: Holocaust Memoirs
JS 730R: Ethnography of the Jews and Judaism


JS 530-000: Biblical Literacy
, W 12:00-3:00, MAX 15

Course description: The Bible in Hebrew is the foundational Text of Judaism, complexly woven into the fabric of Jewish history and culture. Thus, a good working knowledge of the Bible is of value in every area of Jewish Studies. This course is an intensive survey of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh; "Old Testament") and of modern academic biblical scholarship (focusing on the contributions of Jewish scholars). Some attention will also be given to elements of "classical" Jewish biblical interpretation (midrash and commentaries). The course is intended both for students with primary interests in biblical studies and ancient Judaism and for students whose major interests lie elsewhere. Around a basic core of common topics and readings, each student will construct an individual program of study that meets her or his specialized interests and concerns. Students will read a substantial portion of the Bible in English translation, and also several selections in Hebrew. Building and reinforcing the ability to read biblical Hebrew is a major emphasis of the course, and some prior study of Hebrew (modern or ancient) is, therefore, a prerequisite.

Undergraduate students may enroll with the professor's permission.


  • The Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation (Oxford, 2004)
  • Robert Alter, The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel
  • Israel Knohl, The Divine Symphony: The Bible's Many Voices
  • Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (Student Edition) [or any other edition of the Hebrew Bible]
  • C.L. Seow, A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (Revised ed.; Abingdon, 1995)

Particulars: Thorough and careful preparation and active, constructive classroom participation are key requirements of this course. Students will compose short (4-5 pages) response papers discussing the reading for each class meeting. They will also prepare biblical passages in Hebrew for reading and translation in class. Other graded work: several Hebrew quizzes; a "mid-term" Hebrew test (conducted as an oral interview with the professor); final examination; paper (a review of two scholarly monographs or a focused exegetical study).

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JS 540H-000: Midrash
, M 7:30-10:00, MAX 12

Course description: Midrash is the key form of biblical interpretation in rabbinic Judaism. It is also one of the main genres of rabbinic literature. This course will study closely one text: Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer. We will first read through the text in English and then concentrate on selections from the Hebrew text.


  • Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, transl. G. Friedlander
  • Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, the Hebrew text
  • Tanakh
  • Daniel Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash

Prerequisites: Ability to read and understand Hebrew. You will need to read and translate. You may use the English to prepare but you may NOT bring it to class. This is a course for graduate students and qualified undergraduates.

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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 730R-000: Holocaust Memoirs (same as ILA 790-000, CPLT 752-001)
and Bammer, W 4:00-7:00, MAX 15 (5 JS, 5 ILA, 5 CPLT)

Course description: Taking Holocaust memoirs as the material focus of our inquiry, we will examine what it means for a text about the Holocaust to be both a historical document and narrative creation at the same time. Does it make a difference whether we read a particular text as "history" or as "literature"? We will explore questions of evidence and truth; the relationship between "truth," "reality" and "realism"; and the tension between expertise and memory.


  • Helen Epstein, Where She Came From
  • Alice Kaplan, French Lessons
  • Marion Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair
  • Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness, vol. 1 and 2
  • Ruth Kluger, Still Alive
  • Sarah Kofman, Rue Ordener, Rue Labat
  • Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
  • Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor's Tale, vol. 1 and 2

Particulars: In addition to the readings, we will view a select number of films.

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JS 730R-001: Ethnography of the Jews and Judaism
, M 2:00-5:00, MAX 15

Course description: Jewish communities have existed on every continent and in many different cultural environments. Is there a common "Jewish culture" that can be described and studied through ethnography? What does ethnography bring to the table that can enrich other areas of interest in Jewish studies, including historical and textual studies? What are the political and intellectual contexts that make ethnography of Jews a relative rarity in academia today? And finally, how is the ethnography of Jews and Judaism related to broader questions in the study of culture and religion? This seminar will serve as a critical introduction to both theory and research methodology, and will provide a framework for thinking about Jews and Judaism in a new ethnographic and comparative context.

Texts: Books will be available at the Druid Hills Bookstore and on reserve at the library. Books may include:

  • Mark Zborowski and Elizabeth Herzog, Life is With People
  • Susan Kahn, Reproducing Jews
  • Susan Sered, Women as Ritual Experts
  • Kay Shelemay, Let Jasmine Rain Down: Song and Remembrance Among Syrian Jews
  • Tamar El-Or, Maybe Next Passover
  • Jerome Mintz, Hasidic People
  • Yoram Bilu and Eyal Ben-Ari, Grasping Land
  • Jonathan Boyarin, Storm from Paradise
  • Don Seeman, Tainted Hearts: Transformation and Experience Among Ethiopian Jews in Israel

Particulars: Students are expected to attend class each week prepared to discuss that week's readings, and will be evaluated on the basis of: 1. Attendance and participation (30%). Failure to attend regularly and to participate actively will be the basis for a reduced grade. There will be a mandatory film and discussion night approximately four times during the semester. 2. A mid-term mini-ethnographic project (20%). 3. A final paper or exam to be announced (50%).

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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: August 21, 2008



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