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Undergraduate Program





Course Offerings


Undergraduate Spring 2005 Courses


JS 205: Biblical Literature
JS 250S: Archaeology and the Bible
JS 252WR: The Archaeology of Jerusalem
JS 309: Modernization of the Jews and Judaism
JS 324: History of the Holocaust
JS 370R: Yiddish Culture: From the Shtetl to the Lower East Side
JS 370RS: The Works of Maimonides
JS 371R: Jews Under Crescent and Cross
JS 375R: The Question of Zion in Modernist Poetry
JS 375R: Introduction to Freud
JS 375R: The Ruins of Memory
JS 495RWR: Honors Thesis
JS 497R: Directed Reading

JS 205-000: Biblical Literature (same as REL 205-000)
Buss, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 30 (15 REL, 15 JS)

Course description: In this course, we will seek to understand the dynamics of various parts of the Jewish Bible, called "Old Testament" by Christians. This will involve questions such as the following: What is said? How is it said? What appears to be the aim? Insofar as there can be disagreement in regard to these questions, we will look at different answers, both as they have been given by others and as they are presented by members of the class.


  • JPS, Tanakh
  • Sandmel, The Enjoyment of Scripture
  • Frymer-Kensky, Reading the Women of the Bible
  • Buss, Manuscript

Particulars: Students will bring to each class an analysis of the text studied and will be ready to discuss their analyses orally in class. Students who have to miss class more than occasionally can turn their analyses into short papers and discuss them in an individual conference (which will normally cover two or three such papers covering the topics of two or three missed classes). There will be a midterm and a final. The course fulfills General Education Requirement IV.A (Humanities).

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JS 250S-00P: Archaeology and the Bible (same as MES 250S-00P)
Borowski, TTh 1:00-2:15 (new time), MAX: 18 (10 MES, 8 JS)

Course description: An introduction to the field of Biblical Archaeology with careful examination of theory and methodology. The famous discoveries (inscriptions, architecture) and important sites (Megiddo, Hazor, Gezer, Dan) which form the historical background to some of the biblical stories will be examined as well as issues and topics such as the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), Exodus (Moses) and settlement of Canaan (Joshua), the kings of Israel and Judah, and more. Other topics that will be studied include daily life, religion and ancient art. There will be a few early evening video screenings on related topics.


  • Rast, Through the Ages in Palestinian Archaeology
  • May, Oxford Bible Atlas
  • The Bible (Recommended Oxford Study Bible)
  • Course Packet

Particulars: Weekly reports (35%), 2 papers (25%+15%); oral reports (25%). This course fulfills the methodology requirements for a Minor in Mediterranean Archaeology; it also fulfills Area V.C. of the GER. Open only to freshmen.

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JS 252WR-000: The Archaeology of Jerusalem (same as MES 252WR-000, OT 698-002)
Borowski, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 15 (5 MES, 5 JS, 5 OT)

Course description: Jerusalem, the holy city for the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, was first occupied 5,000 years ago and has been an important site for 4,000 years. The Canaanites and the Jebusites lived in Jerusalem before it was taken over by the Israelites who, under David and Solomon, turned it into their capital city. The course will deal with what is known about Jerusalem from ancient literary sources (Mari, Amarna, Bible, Josephus, etc.) and will compare this evidence with the archaeological record. Some of the topics to be covered are: Jerusalem in the First Temple period; the Return to Zion under Ezra and Nehemiah; Herod's Jerusalem and its magnificent temple; Jerusalem under the Roman and Byzantine rule.


  • The Bible
  • Course Packet

Particulars: Weekly reports (30%), oral reports (30%), paper (30%), book review (10%). Graduate students (OT 698) will have additional assignments. This course fulfills the post-freshman writing requirement and the Minor in Mediterranean Archaeology.

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JS 309-000: Modernization of the Jews and Judaism (same as REL 309-000)
Seeman, TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 30 (15 REL, 15 JS)

Course description: How have Jewish communities faced the challenges posed by modernity? This class uses literary, historical, philosophical and anthropological material to explore this question. What is the origin of the split between different Jewish religious movements (i.e. Orthodoxy and Reform)? What is the relationship between Zionism, good citizenship in America or in Europe and traditional Jewish religion? What are the special challenges facing Israeli Jewry? How has Jewish thought been influenced by the Holocaust? By feminism? This class focuses on Jewish religious and intellectual life, but always tries to relate those to the larger existential dilemmas that Jewish people have faced in modern times.

Texts: TBA

Particulars: Students are expected to attend class each week prepared to discuss that week's readings, and will be evaluated on the basis of attendance and participation (20%). There will be an in class mid-term exam (30%) and a final essay (50%) in which students write a critical essay analyzing one topic on the basis of class readings and discussions plus related newspaper articles. There will be a mandatory film and discussion night, approximately four times during the semester.

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JS 324-000: History of the Holocaust (same as REL 324-000, HIST 385-001)
Lipstadt, TTh 11:30-12:45, MAX: 90 (40 REL, 40 JS, 10 HIST)

Course description: This course will examine the history of the annihilation of European Jewry by the Nazis. We will trace the roots of European antisemitism; the rise of Nazism and Hitler’s seizure of power; the evolution of Nazi policy toward the Jews; the Nazi policy towards the disabled, mentally handicapped, and carriers of genetic diseases; Germany policy towards the Roma and Sinti; the response of the German Jewish community to the policy of persecution; the reaction of the nations of the world to Nazi antisemitism; resistance by Jews to persecution; the experience of those in the concentration and death camps; and the attempts—however feeble—to rescue Jews.


  • Dwork and van Pelt, Holocaust: A History
  • Wiesel, Night
  • Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Volumes I and II)
  • Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
  • Mahoney, In Pursuit of Justice
  • Niewyk, The Holocaust


  • Triumph of the Will
  • Healing by Killing
  • Designers of Death
  • America and the Holocaust
  • Partisans of Vilna
  • Weapons of the Spirit

Particulars: There will be two in-class exams and a final. Students will write three short reaction papers. Class participation will be taken into account in determining the final grade. You are expected to come to class fully prepared to participate in class discussion which will be based on the assigned readings.

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JS 370-000: Yiddish Culture: From the Shtetl to the Lower East Side (same as GER 460-000)
Miller, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX 35 (25 JS, 10 GER)

Course description: This course will offer a broad introduction to the subject of Yiddish culture. Utilizing both primary and secondary sources, we will examine the scope and depth of this subject from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will examine texts from a host of fields including sociology, anthropology, literature, history, folklore, theater and film. Yiddish has a rich and diverse history, dating back to its inception in the eleventh century. We will analyze the development of this culture and trace its path from its origins in Europe to its various manifestations in countries where Eastern European immigrants settled. All course materials are in English. No knowledge of Yiddish is required.

Texts: A course packet will be available at the book store.

Particulars: Students are expected to attend class on a regular basis. There will be two five-page papers (50%) and a final essay (50%).

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JS 370S-000: The Works of Maimonides (same as REL 210S-000)
Chervin, MW 2:30-3:45, MAX: 18 (13 REL, 5 JS)

Course description: Theologian, philosopher, and legal codifier Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) asked the question: Is traditional Judaism consistent with the dictates of reason and philosophy? His answer: Yes, and I can prove it! In this course, we will explore how Maimonides (also known as the Rambam) sought to answer this question, by examining excerpts from the vast corpus of his work, particularly his philosophical masterpiece The Guide of the Perplexed. We will also look at some of the influences that affected Maimonides' thinking— i.e. rabbinic Judaism, Greek philosophy, medieval Islamic philosophy—as well as the historical context, in order to better understand his work. Students will be expected to critically analyze Maimonides' thought, and evaluate its relevance to contemporary dilemmas of religious belief and faith.

Texts may include selections from:

  • Mishneh Torah
  • The Guide of the Perplexed (trans. Shlomo Pines, Univ. of Chicago Press)
  • Twersky, A Maimonides Reader
  • Minkin, The Teachings of Maimonides
  • Husik, A History of Medieval Jewish Philosophy
  • Seeskin, Maimonides: A Guide for Today's Perplexed
  • Seltzer, Jewish People, Jewish Thought
  • Hartman, Maimonides: Torah and Philosophical Quest
  • Twersky, Introduction to the Code of Maimonides

Particulars: In addition to regular attendance, class participation, and regular reading assignments, this course requires short analytic essays and critical reflection papers, as well as a mid-term exam and a final exam.

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JS 371-000: Jews under Crescent and Cross: From Constantine to the Spanish Expulsion (same as HIST 385-006)
Rustow, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 30 (15 JS, 15 HIST)

Course description: This course covers the history of the Jews under Christian and Islamic rule from late antiquity until the expulsions from Spain and Portugal. Using primary sources in translation and modern scholarly reconstructions, we will trace the development of Jewish culture, religion, society, and institutions as responses to specific historical circumstances. We will also survey poetry, philosophy, art, and other forms of cultural production in their social and material contexts. Themes include violence, social boundaries, and the vexted questions of influence and acculturation; sectarianism, heresy, and the construction and dissemination of rabbinic tradition; trade, travel, migration, and shifting centers of cultural gravity; the nature and effects of minority self-government and the Jews' relationship to governmental power.


  • Biale, The Cultures of the Jews
  • Brody, The Geonim of Babylonia
  • Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross
  • Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Students will also be asked to read several historical novels about the period and analyze them critically, including:

  • Ghosh, In an Antique Land
  • Makiya, The Rock
  • Yehoshua, A Journey to the End of the Millennium

Particulars: Short written responses to primary sources, mid-term and final examinations; and a mid-term paper (8 pages).

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JS 375-000: Question of Zion in Modernist Poetry (same as HEBR 370-000)
Yeglin, MW 3:00-4:15, MAX 15 (10 HEBR, 5 JS)

Course description: TBA

Texts: TBA

Particulars: TBA

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JS 375S-00P: Introduction to Freud: The Invention of Psychoanalysis (same as CPLT 301S-00P, IDS 350S-00P, ENG 389S-00P, REL 370S-00P)
Felman, W 3:00-6:00, MAX 16 (8 CPLT, 2 JS, 2 IDS, 2 ENGL, 2 REL)

Course description: "It was Freud's fate, as he observed not without pride, to 'agitate the sleep of mankind'", writes Freud's biographer Peter Gay: "Half a century after his death, it seems true that he succeeded far better than he expected. . . It is commonplace but true that we all speak Freud now, correctly or not. We casually refer to Oedipal conflicts and sibling rivalry, narcissism and Freudian slips. But before we can speak that way with authority, we must read his writings attentively. They repay reading, with dividends." This course will introduce Freud through close readings of some basic texts, looking together at why Freud made such an enormous impact on our times, and how his insights reinvent the practice of interpretation, and provide new tools for thought and new enabling inspirations for the humanities at large. Topics explored include: the meaning of desire, subjectivity, humanity, unconscious thinking; the relation between sleep and wakefulness, life and death, reality and dreams, religion and disillusion, sexuality and repression, narcissism and ethics.

Texts: Selection from Freud's writings, including Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis, The Interpretation of Dreams, Civilization and its Discontents.

Particulars: Two short papers in the course of the semester; active participation. Fulfills General Education Requirement under Humanities and Advanced Seminar requirement.

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JS 375-002: The Ruins of Memory: The Holocaust Inheritance in Contemporary Culture (same as CPLT 333-001)
Leshem, TTh 1-2:15, MAX 20 (13 CPLT, 7 JS)

Course description: This course will examine a wide variety of Holocaust texts including testimony, film, fiction, poetry and painting, asking at each step "how do we respond?" Although the Holocaust was a concrete historical event that transpired between 1933 and 1945, the debates surrounding its memory, history, status and place in contemporary society and consciousness continue to grow. This course will focus on the ethical implications of our present day relationship to the event and to the texts that refer to it. With primary focus on testimonial narratives and poetry written by witnesses and survivors, we will strive to articulate a relationship between ourselves (the readers) and the testifiers that will allow their voice to be heard without stifling our own response. At the same time, we will ask difficult and perhaps unanswerable questions about the wealth of material on the Holocaust, including: what types of fictional representations are appropriate to represent the events in the camps?; Can humor ever be appropriate?; Given that the United States' response to the Holocaust was ethically questionable during its occurrence, do we have an obligation to represent our role accurately to ourselves, or should we focus more on the heroic American liberators of Dachau?


  • Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
  • Langer, Art from the Ashes
  • Morgan, A Holocaust Reader: Responses to the Nazi Extermination
  • Borowski, This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
  • Appelfeld, Badenheim, 1939
  • Ozick, The Shawl
  • Various texts on Online Reserve

Particulars: class participation (25%), two 5-7 page term papers (25%), final paper (30%), and in-class oral presentations (20%).

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JS 495RWR-00P: Honors Thesis
Faculty, Time TBA

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JS 497R-00P: Directed Reading in Jewish Studies
Faculty, Time TBA

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Undergraduates may also take graduate courses.


For information on the Jewish Studies Major & Minor, go to: Undergraduate Programs in JS


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Last updated: August 20, 2008



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