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Graduate Program


Graduate Program

Course Offerings


Graduate Spring 2009 Courses

JS 597R: Directed Study
JS 598R: Thesis/Exam Preparation
JS 730: Heresy as a Historical Problem
JS 730: History of Modern Israel



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



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


JS 730-000: Heresy as a Historical Problem (same as HIST 585-006)
Rustow, Time: W 4:00-7:00, MAX: 12 (JS 6, HIST 6)

Course description: From the Cathars, against whom the church launched the great Inquisition of the thirteenth century, to the sixty percent of world Jewry in the seventeenth century who believed Sabbatai Sevi was the messiah, historians usually portray heresy as a kind of disease, with periods of outbreak and latency. Others, in an attempt to sound more neutral, claim that heresy is an expression of intellectual vitality or social protest. But what if we were to see heresy the way most surviving sources suggest we do—as a product of the authorities who tried to extirpate it? This course will focus not merely on the doctrinal features of religious heresy but on the communities of Jews, Christians, and Muslims for whom heresy became a central problem and on the systems of power and authority with which they came into contact. Issues will include how religions without centralized institutional structures regulate orthodoxy; how those with such structures attempt to implement it; the interpretive problems posed by texts created by the pursuit of heresy; how historians have used polemical treatises and inquisitorial dossiers to reconstruct the lives of heretics; and the problem of comparison between supposedly doctrine-centered and law-centered religions traditions.

Texts: In addition to selected articles and primary sources, books may include:

  • Miriam Bodian, Dying in the Law of Moses: Crypto-Jewish Martyrdom in the Iberian World;
  • Bodian, Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam;
  • Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism;
  • Elisheva Carlebach, The Pursuit of Heresy: Rabbi Moses Hagiz and the Sabbatian Controversies;
  • Carlebach, Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500–1750;
  • Lucien Febvre, The Problem of Unbelief in the Sixteenth Century: The Religion of Rabelais;
  • Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller;
  • R. I. Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society;
  • Mark Pegg, The Corruption of Angels: The Great Inquisition of 1245–46;
  • Pegg, A Most Holy War: The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom;
  • Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Ṣevi: The Mystical Messiah;
  • Devin Stewart, Islamic Legal Orthodoxy: Twelver Shiite Responses to the Sunni Legal System.
  • Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Particulars: Class participation and presentations; a mid-term paper (10 pages) reviewing and comparing two books on the syllabus; a final research paper (20–30 pages).

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JS 730-001: History of Modern Israel (same as HIST 585-004)
Stein, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 10 (JS 5, HIST 5)

Course description: This upper level course traces the origins and development of modern Zionism and the evolution and growth of modern Israel. From biblical connections of the Jewish people to the land of Israel until the present, the course looks at the themes, causes, ideologies, diplomacy, neighbors, and leaders that shaped the contemporary Jewish state. Five periods of study are addressed: to the 1840s, from then until 1922, the Palestine Mandate or Yishuv until after statehood, and 1949 to the present.


  • Laqueur, Walter, A History of Zionism;
  • Dowty, Alan, The Jewish State: A Century Later;
  • Hertzberg, Arthur, The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader;
  • Stein, Kenneth W., Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace;
  • Sternhell, Zev, The Founding Myths of Israel;
  • Stein, Kenneth W., Documentary Reader of Modern Israel (to be purchased from the instructor)

Particulars: There will be a one hour examination and a final examination. Students are expected to write a research paper of no more than 25 pages, using primarily library and archival sources. Graduate students will write an additional ten page paper about a Zionist or Israeli leader. All students will be expected to engage in regular class discussions. Additional readings will be provided on library reserve.


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Last updated: January 12, 2009



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