The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University banner
Newsletter Faculty & Staff Graduate Undergraduate Alumni Affiliated Programs Events Resources Contact

Graduate Program



Course Offerings


Graduate Spring 2004 Courses


JS 597R: Directed Study
JS 598R: Thesis/Exam Preparation

JS 730R: The Song of Songs in the Jewish Hermeneutic Tradition
JS 730R: Ethnography of Religious Experience: A Critical Introduction
JS 730R: History of Judaic Languages


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

Back to top


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

Back to top


JS 730R-000: The Song of Songs in the Jewish Hermeneutic Tradition (same as RLHB 720V-000)
, W 7:30-10:30, MAX 20 (10 JS, 10 RLHB)

Course description: This course will consist of a close reading of selected passages from the Song of Songs, followed by a close reading from the midrash and the Zohar of those same passages. This will allow students to examine a good slice of the Jewish hermeneutical tradition and its various interpretive stances.


  • A. and H. Bloch, The Song of Songs
  • D. Blumenthal, Understanding Jewish Mysticism, vol. 1
  • M. Fishbane, The Exegetical Imagination

Particulars: Competence in Hebrew Bible required. Students will be expected to prepare and participate. Grading will be based upon class participation and one final paper, written in conversation with the instructor.

Back to top


JS 730R-00P: Ethnography of Religious Experience: A Critical Introduction (same as ANT 585-01P)
, W 9:30-12:30, MAX 12 (8 JS, 4 ANTH)

Content: "Experience" is an under-theorized concept in both anthropology and the study of religion.  This course asks how both disciplines can be transformed through the ethnographic study of religious experience in its lived contexts. What constitutes experience, and how can it be described cross-culturally? What are the strengths and limitations of ethnography as a research methodology in the study of religion? What are the theoretical as well as practical and stylistic tools needed to fashion compelling ethnographies that get to the heart of what it means to be human in different social and religious settings, from spirit possession in Northern Sudan to charismatic healing in Catholic America? What is at stake for people in these settings?

Course description: This seminar is a critical introduction to theory and methodology in the anthropology of religion. We will read full-length ethnographies that focus on a variety of religious settings, as well as William James, Clifford Geertz and at least one work of fiction. How does ethnography ask and answer questions differently than any other methodology in the study of religion? What are its strengths and limitations? And how do recent trends in the anthropology of human experience promise to transform both anthropology and the study of religion as academic disciplines? Case studies that include the ethnography of Charismatic Christian healers in America, Muslim women in Sudan and Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel will be read alongside ethnographies of Haitian spiritualists and African diviners. Films will be shown four times during the semester at an additional meeting. Students will write a critical book review of two or more books and will conduct their own mini-ethnography.

Texts Available for Purchase:

  • Maya Deren, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti
  • Janice Boddy, Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan
  • Geoffrey Lienhardt, Divinity and Experience: The Religion of the Dinka
  • Thomas Csordas, Language, Charisma and Creativity: The Ritual Life of a Religious Movement
  • Elenore Smith Bowen, Return to Laughter
  • Unni Wikan, Tomorrow, God Willing: Self Made Destinies in Cairo
  • Vincent Crapanzano, Tuhami: Portrait of a Moroccan
  • Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity
  • Gananath Obeyesekere, Medusa's Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience
  • William James, Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Robert Desjarlais, Sensory Biographies: Lives and Deaths Among Nepal's Yolmo Buddhists

Texts Available in Class:

  • Clifford Geertz, "Religion as a Cultural System" and "Thick Description," both from The Interpretation of Cultures
  • Don Seeman, Tainted Hearts: Being "Felashmura" in Israel
  • Rudolph Otto, The Holy
  • Arthur Kleinman, "Everything that Really Matters," Harvard Theological Review 1998

Particulars: This course will be run in seminar format. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions and to take turns presenting material and leading class discussions. We will average one full ethnography per week. There will be one short paper (possibly a mini-ethnography or interview assignment) and one longer paper (possibly a critical book review). Students who are currently conducting ethnographic research projects may petition to write about their own ethnography.

Back to top


JS 730R-002: History of Judaic Languages
, TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX 25 (10 MES, 5 JS, 5 LING, 5 JS)

Course description: A "Jewish Language" is a linguistic variety that arises in a certain place and is used by Jewish speakers and writers. It is customary for these varieties to use the Hebrew script, to incorporate Hebrew and Aramaic elements into the language and to make use of a special literary genre, verbatim translations of sacred Hebrew texts (such as the Bible) into the Jewish variety. These languages rose in central and Eastern Europe (Yiddish), in the Arab world (Judeo-Arabic), in Spain (Judeo-Spanish or Ladino), in Iran (Judeo-Persian), in Italy (Judeo-Italian), in North Africa (Judeo-Berber) in Kurdistan (Judeo-Neo-Aramaic) and in other places. This course explores the following issues: How have such languages arisen in different places in the world? How are they different from the related non-Jewish languages, and in what ways are they bearers of Jewish culture? How are they associated with Hebrew/Aramaic? Special emphasis will be placed on typological study of the various languages in the different places, i.e., comparative study of the phenomenon of a Jewish language.


  • Course packet with various articles on reserve
  • Herbert H. Paper [ed.], Jewish Languages: Theme and Variations (out of print, on reserve)
  • George Yule, The Study of Language

Recommended Texts:

  • Joshua Fishman [ed.], Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages
  • Benjamin Hary, Multiglossia in Judeo-Arabic, with an Edition, Translation and Grammatical Study of the Cairene Purim Scroll

Particulars: No knowledge of any specific language is required. All students are expected to attend class regularly and participate in class discussions and activities. Requirements include assignments, quizzes and fieldwork project.

Back to top


View undergraduate offerings

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

Back to top









Newsletter | Faculty & Staff | Graduate | Undergraduate | Alumni | Affiliated Programs | Events | Resources | Contact

Jewish Studies home | Emory College | Emory University

The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies | 204 Candler Library | Emory University | Atlanta, GA 30322 | Phone: 404-727-6301 | Fax: 404-727-3297

Please direct questions or comments to:
Copyright © Emory University
Last updated: August 21, 2008



JS homepage Emory homepage