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Graduate Program



Course Offerings


Graduate Spring 2005 Courses


JS 540G: Rabbinic Judaism: Prayer and Liturgy
JS 561: Methods in Jewish Studies
JS 597R: Directed Study
JS 598R: Thesis/Exam Preparation

JS 730: Heresy and Heretical Cultures of the Medieval and Early Modern Periods


JS 540-000: Rabbinic Judaism: Prayer and Liturgy (same as REL 372-000)
Blumenthal, T 7:30-10:00 pm, MAX: 13 (10 JS, 3 REL)

Course description: Prayer is one of the main forms of Jewish spiritual and religious identity. Liturgy is the textual form that prayer takes. This course will begin by studying prayer and liturgy in the Bible. Then, substantial time will be devoted to the traditional prayerbook. This will be followed by some time in medieval Hebrew religious liturgical poetry. Finally, we will look closely at modern forms of Jewish prayer and liturgy.


  • Bible
  • Siddur
  • Mahzor
  • Blumenthal, God at the Center

Prerequisites: Ability to read and understand Hebrew. This is a course for graduate students and qualified undergraduates.

Requirements: Active class participation. Quizzes and final exam. Possible paper.

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JS 561-000: Methods in Jewish Studies
Blumenthal, M 2:00-5:00, MAX: 15

Course description: Jewish Studies is a data field; it is not a discipline. Hence, Jewish Studies can be, and is, studied in many disciplines. This course is intended to display various methods for studying the data of Jewish studies: historical, philological, exegetical, literary, theological, feminist, artistic, legal, and social scientific. We will, therefore, begin by examining several texts through which to demonstrate these methods, with special attention to the Akeda (Genesis 22). This will be followed by an orientation in library sources. The main part of the course will be devoted to reading in each of the methods and applying the basic tools of that discipline to various texts. At the end, we will reconsider what we have done and, then, apply our learning to a topic for a final paper. Students completing this course will have a good idea of the range of methods in Jewish studies and those wishing to go on to doctoral work will be able to intelligently choose one of these disciplines.


The Tanakh and translation
Blumenthal, Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest
Spiegel, The Last Trial
Peskowitz and Levitt, Judaism Since Gender
Trible, Texts of Terror
Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai
Woocher, Sacred Survival
Adler, Engendering Judaism

Particulars: Grading will be based on class participation and a final paper. We will have several guest discussants who will use part of the period.

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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: Heresy and Heretical Cultures of the Medieval and Early Modern Periods (same as HIST 585-005, ILA 790-004, RLHT 736-000)
Rustow, Th 1:00-4:00, MAX: 16 (4 JS, 4 HIST, 4 ILA, 4 RLHT)

Course description: Heretics are paradoxically among the most scrupulous of religious believers: they think about doctrine and practice seriously enough to conflict with religious authorities, or else they are coerced to do so by their inquisitors. This course, in turn, proposes to take heretics seriously as historical subjects. Avoiding studies that describe doctrinal features of religious heresy, we will instead focus on reconstructions of communities in which heresy emerged as central problems in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, from medieval Languedoc and Crusader Palestine to republican Amsterdam and Ottoman Istanbul. Our central themes will be how historians have taken advantage of texts created by the pursuit of heresy – such as inquisitorial dossiers and polemical treatises – in order to reconstruct the lives of heretics, and how understanding the faults and fissures at work in religious sectarianism sheds light on the entire society in which it emerged.


  • Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God
  • Bernard Lewis, The Assassins
  • Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou
  • Mark Pegg, The Corruption of Angels
  • Lucien Febvre, The Problem of Unbelief in the Sixteenth Century
  • Carol Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms
  • Gershom Scholem, Sabbetai Sevi
  • Works by Natalie Zemon Davis, Umberto Eco, Michel Foucault, Yosef Kaplan, David Nirenberg and Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi
  • a film by Luis Buñuel

Particulars: Students will be expected to read, summarize, and discuss a book per week and to give one presentation. Written requirements include an in-depth review of a book related to the contents of the course and a final paper of approximately 5,000 words on a topic or historiographic problem related to both the course and student research interests.

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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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