Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies

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Course Offerings 2016-17

HIST 221*F Jewish and World Civilization (until 1492)
Instructor:  Dr. Vassili Schedrin

A thematic-chronological history of Jews from ancient times to the beginning of the modern era: the biblical background; political, social, religious and cultural interactions with the ancient Near East, Hellenism, Rome, Christians, and Muslims; the rise of rabbinic Judaism and its opponents; communal life; gender; Diaspora cultures. The course traces continuity and change of Judaism and Jewish civilization through examination of a variety of source material: primary historical texts, historical scholarship, and works of art, including literature and film.

HIST 222*W Jewish and World Civilization (since 1492)
Instructor: Dr. Vassili Schedrin

A thematic-chronological history of Jews from the beginning of the modern era to the post World War II period: the resettlement of Jews in Europe; modernization of Jewish life and culture and resistance to it in Western and Eastern Europe, North America, Palestine, Middle East, and State of Israel; heresy, political emancipation, developments in antisemitism, enlightenment, secularization, nationalism, revolutions and radicalism, modern religious movements. The course analyzes the impact of modernity on Jewish life through examination of a variety of source material: primary historical texts, historical scholarship, and works of art, including literature and film.

HIST 240-002 FW Issues in History: Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
Instructor: Dr. William Morrow​

(No pre-requisites required - open to first year students also)
The introductory biblical Hebrew course has two purposes: to introduce students to the language of Biblical Hebrew as a medium for understanding the biblical text, and to enable students to read Biblical Hebrew prose with the aid of a dictionary. No prior knowledge of Hebrew is assumed.           

By the end of the course, students should possess the following types of knowledge and skills:
       Basic knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammar and vocabulary.
       The ability to read Genesis 1–4; 6-9 in Hebrew. 
       The ability to read many parts of a standard Jewish prayerbook (Siddur) with the aid of dictionary.

In the Fall semester, a semi-inductive method is used to learn the fundamentals of Biblical Hebrew. By the end of the first semester, the class will have read Genesis 1 in Hebrew. In the Winter semester, the focus will be on consolidation of language skills through reading most of Genesis 2–4, 6–9 in Hebrew.

HIST 294 F Arab-Israel Conflict and Regional Security
Instructor: Dr. Yakub Halabi

​"This course provides students with insight into the causes and consequences of the Arab-Israeli conflict since the late nineteenth century. We will examine the detailed history of the political tension and hostility between Israel and the Arab world in general and Israelis and Palestinians in particular. Throughout this course we will analyze the history of this conflict since the rise of Zionism in Europe, and the role of regional and international actors and will relate them to primary documents that have come to define the conflict over time. We will also explore the present-day attempts of conflict resolution or conflict management and other contemporary issues and potential solutions to the conflict."

HIST 295* F  The Holocaust
Instructor:  Dr. Gordon Dueck

This lecture course will focus on the origins of the Nazi genocide of Jews, the interlocking roles played by perpetrators and bystanders, and the various interpretations that scholars have brought to bear on the subject in an attempt to explain how and why it happened. By way of comparison, the experience of other racial minorities under Hitler's regime, e.g., Roma and Afro-Germans, will be briefly examined.

HIST 306  FW  Holocaust:  Problems and Interpretations
Instructor: Dr. Gordon Dueck

Taught in conjunction with HIST-295, the first half comprises the lecture component (described above) of the course; the second half is made up of a seminar component. Among the controversies covered latterly: Holocaust memorials and their discontents; Holocaust denial; and the intentionalist/functionalist debate.

HIST 339* W  Jews without Judaism
Instructor: Dr. Gordon Dueck

What does the secular Jew believe in? From the emergence of Baruch Spinoza—the first secular Jew—in the 17th century, to the eruption of ideology in the 19th and 20th centuries, many modern Jews lost their faith in G-d and placed it in humanity instead. Jewish involvement in modern movements (e.g., socialism, liberalism, and nationalism) will be the focus of this course.

HIST 344* W  Plural Visions: New World Jews & the Invention of Multiculturalism
Instructor: Dr. Gordon Dueck

This course studies the historical role of Jews as migrants—as strangers in a strange land—and their eventual transformation from "Outsiders" to "Insiders", as a way of understanding their currenplace in North American society. For the sake of context, readings will include comparisons with the experiences of other minority groups.

HIST 400-001* W  Topics in History:Jews and Muslims in Modern Europe: The Enlightenment Origins of Islamophobia and Antisemitism
Instructors: Dr Howard Adelman/Mehmet Karabela

During the Middle Ages, although constituting a small percentage of the European population, Muslims and Jews played a central role in Christian thought. Constituting three intertwined world views, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam relied on each other as vehicles for self-definition as they tried to establish their own boundaries through a process of conversion, apologetics, polemics, and violence.  In the process of doing so they studied each other’s texts, met with each other, and used each other as a foil.  Rather than using reason to rise above confrontations, the European Enlightenment used reason as a way to establish more permanent boundaries between Christian Europe and Jews and Muslims.   Reason and science became the foundation for racism, orientalism, and colonialism, which led European intellectuals to formulate The Jewish Question and The Eastern Question, for which Europe continues to seek solutions as it struggles with antisemitism and Islamophobia.

HIST 400-001* F  Topics in History: Palestine/Israel: One Land, Many Narratives
Instructors:  Dr. Howard Adelman/Dr. Yakub Halabi

A dialogue seminar on the geographical, historical, and cultural setting of the Land of Israel\Palestine; impact of foreign powers and ideas; its role in religious and political thought; nationalism; construction of narratives, competition for hegemony and territory; attempts to divide the land; the role of dialogue between Palestinians and Jews.

HIST 400-003*F  Topics in History:  Jews on Film: Representations in and Contributions to the N.A. Media
Instructor: Dr. Gordon Dueck

The Jewish presence in American filmmaking has long been the obsession of hate-mongers. But historians have begun to approach the matter as a legitimate subject of enquiry and have shown that it is possible to avoid the bigot-booster trap that so often plagues the study of hot-button issues such as this one. This course attempts to answer the following questions: Has Hollywood's "Jewishness" had a discernible impact on the content of cultural products? Have the changes in American society--and in the film industry--since the early 20th century had an effect on the way in which Jews and Jewish identity are represented on screen? Have Jewish images become "normalized"?

HIST 400-003 W Russian-Jewish Encounter in Imperial Russia (18th c. to 1917)
Instructor: Dr. Vassili Schedrin

The course provides a window on the exciting field of Russian Jewish history. In this seminar we will seek to answer the following principal questions: how and why the encounter between Russians and Jews re-shaped both nations and changed their histories? Russian and Jews first encountered one another on considerable scale in the late eighteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century Russia became a home to 5.2 million Jews, becoming the world's largest Jewish community. Through discussion of primary historical sources and scholarship we will see how, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jews increasingly perceived Russia their home and Russians—their countrymen. We will see how Russians increasingly perceived Jews an essential part of Russia's political, economic, and cultural landscape. We will also see how unique modern identity of a "Russian Jew" developed.

HIST 449 W Topics in Medieval Mediterranean History: Messiahs, Mystics, and Martyrs in Muslim and Jewish Religious Culture
Instructor: Dr. Adnan Husain/Dr. Howard Adelman​

This course explores the interplay or “symbiosis” between Jews and Muslims, Judaism and Islam, to understand the religious identities and cultures of both and their mutual development rom the time of Muhammad to the mysterious messiah and convert to Islam Sabbatai Zvi in the 17th century Ottoman empire.  Among the key topics discussed are religious dissent, sectarianism, conversion, polemics, politics, power, the treatment of religious minorities, and apocalyptic or messianic movements across the Medieval Mediterranean world. The course explores shared intellectual movements in philosophy, theology, and mysticism while investigating the tensions between traditional and text based authority and popular rebellious movements based on charismatic leaders.