Current Course Offerings

Jewish studies offers courses in History, Gender Studies, Classics, Philosophy, Religion, and Hebrew. See below for the courses offered for the 2023-2024 academic year.

CLST 208

CLST 208 - The Levant from the Late Bronze Age to the Coming of Rome (Winter)

Social, cultural, and political history of the eastern Mediterranean littoral from the 15th to the 1st centuries BCE; particular emphasis on the problems of the early Jewish state.

HEBR 190  - Introduction to Modern Hebrew (Full Year)

HEBR 190  - Introduction to Modern Hebrew (Full Year)

For students with no (or a minimal) background in Hebrew. Introduces elements of grammar and vocabulary of modern Hebrew

HEBR 294  - Intermediate Modern Hebrew I (Winter)

HEBR 294  - Intermediate Modern Hebrew I (Fall)

An extensive grammar review with practice in speaking, writing, and translation, based on the reading of texts by modern Hebrew writers. 

HEBR 190  - Introduction to Modern Hebrew (Full Year)

HEBR 301  - Topics in Hebrew (Winter)

Specialized study, as circumstances permit, of a particular author, genre, theme, movement, literary form or some combination of these elements. 

HIST 220 - Jews on Film (Fall)

HIST 220 - Jews on Film (Winter)

A history of the film industry from a Jewish perspective. Has Hollywood’s Jewish roots had a discernible impact on content? How has antisemitism affected the way in which Jews and Jewish issues were represented on screen? Related subjects also covered in this course: radio, television, and comic books.


HIST 241 - Modern Jewish History

In this course, we will explore Jewish history from Enlightenment to the present day. The course will take in political, social, economic and cultural developments on a grand scale, exploring what modernity meant for Jewish people from Paris to Baghdad and beyond. Beginning with the emergence of new ideas on the ‘Jewish Question’ in the eighteenth century, the course will examine how these ideas of nationhood, identity, and assimilation affected Jewish communities across the modern world. We’ll explore the historical experience of Jewish people- from philosophers to merchants, refugees to soldiers- and their evolving place in broader economic, social and political systems. At the heart of the course will be the enduring narrative of the Jewish experience over the last three hundred years. We will consider how Jews have shaped the societies in which they have lived, and how they have been shaped in turn.

HIST 295 - The Holocaust (Fall)

HIST 295 - The Holocaust (Fall)

The background to and processes of the destruction of the Jews of Europe between 1933 and 1945. Themes to be covered include: modern anti-semitism, Jewish communities in the inter-war era, Nazi racial policies, the Judenrat, the organization of the death camps, the attitudes of the Christian churches, the role of collaborators, the ideology of mass murder, and the questions of ‘compliance’, ‘resistance’, and ‘silence’.

HIST 306 - Holocaust: Problems and Interpretations (Full Year)

A fall/winter course taught in conjunction with HIST-295, the first half is a lecture that gives a broad overview of the Holocaust, and the second half is a seminar in which the main themes of Holocaust historiography are examined. Subjects to be covered: the difference between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, the origins of the "Jewish problem", European nationalism in the inter-war era, Nazi racial policies before WWII, the rise of the police state, the organization of the concentration camps and death camps, and the victims, perpetrators, and by-standers of the Holocaust. 

Hist 330

HIST 330-001 - Jewish and World Civilizations (Full Year)

A thematic-chronological exploration of Jewish history from ancient times to the post World War II period. Topics to be covered include: emergence of Biblical Judaism; political, social, religious and cultural interactions of the Jews and other ancient and medieval civilizations and religions, such as Babylon, Greece, Rome, Christianity and Islam; the rise of rabbinic Judaism and Jewish communities in Diaspora; political emancipation of the Jews in Western Europe; Jewish attempts to integrate into European societies; reform and counter-reform of Judaism; rise of modern antisemitism; Holocaust; emergence of Zionism and establishment of the Jewish state. The geographic span of the course includes Western and Eastern Europe, North America, and Middle East. The seminar traces continuity and change of Judaism and Jewish civilization through examination of a variety of source material: primary historical texts, historiography, and works of art, including literature and film. 

Hist 330 - 002 Image

HIST 330-002 - Muslim and Jewish Cultures in the Medieval Mediterranean (Full Year)

This core seminar investigates the relationship between Muslim and Jewish societies in medieval Spain, spanning from the establishment of Muslim Spain (al-Andalus) in 711 to the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 after the Christian ‘reconquest’.

The course will analyze and assess the concept of ‘peaceful coexistence’ among the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities, referred to as convivencia, and explore the evolving dynamics of power and interconfessional relations between them. By examining primary sources such as historical chronicles, legal documents, literary texts, travelogues, and liturgy, students will explore various themes including religious and ethnic diversity, love and sexuality, religious conversion and acceptance, law and political authority, the notion of a ‘Golden Age’ of convivencia, intellectual encounters between Muslims and Jews, and their influence on Christian Europe. The course will analyze different historical perspectives on the past, with an emphasis on how the memory of medieval Spain’s history is utilized in contemporary popular and academic discourse. To enhance the skills of history majors in conducting historical research, writing effectively, and delivering presentations, this seminar’s assessment will include short essays analyzing primary sources and modern historical scholarship, participating in a group debate, delivering an oral presentation, and completing a research paper.



HIST 337 - Multiculturalism in the Ottoman Empire (Fall)

The roots of modern-day Turkey lie in the foundations of the Ottoman Empire. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire, a Muslim dynastic state, ruled over much of southeastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. By the end of the 16th century, the empire counted the largest cities in the Mediterranean, in which Muslims represented only a portion of the population.  Eastern and Western denominations of Christianity were also present in the empire, from the Coptic Christians of Egypt and the Armenian villagers of the Persia frontier to the Protestant visitors residing in coastal entrepots and the Catholic monks of Cyprus. There were also significant communities of Sephardic and Arab Jews in such cities as Izmir, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Edirne. This course explores how Ottoman institutions integrated such diverse populations into a single polity and the ways in which these communities adapted to living with one another in multi-faith contexts. Students will have the opportunity to analyze and interpret accounts of the Ottoman Empire by contemporary Western European visitors who commented on these multireligious settings and on Islamic principles of toleration, both of which differed radically from their experiences at home in an age of religious wars, the Inquisition, and sectarian violence. The final third of the course will be devoted to discussions concerning the late empire: the impact of 19th century reforms, nationalism, and war on an increasingly fragile political order and its multireligious and multiethnic societies.

HIST 339 - Jews without Judaism (Winter)

HIST 339 - Jews without Judaism (Fall)

This course explores the North American Jewish engagement with modern ideologies such as secularism, antisemitism, liberalism, nationalism, socialism, feminism, and neo-conservativism. Other specific topics include the secularization of universities; the recent retrenchment of Orthodox Judaism; and the resurgence of ‘popular atheism’.


HIST 402 - Topics in History: Transnational Jewish Migration

The history of the Jewish people is defined by movement: temporary or permanent, by choice or by force, to find community or to escape it. This course will explore migration in Jewish history from ancient times to the present day, considering how Jewish life was shaped by the experience of migration, and how Jewish migrants shaped the places they settled. Taking a transnational approach to the story of Jewish migration, this course will consider Jewish migration beginning with the biblical Exodus and ending with twenty-first century Jewish migrants in Germany and Israel. In between, we’ll explore exile, diaspora and flight across continents, taking in the Medieval Mediterranean, the era of mass migration to Europe and the Americas, the development of Zionism, and the Holocaust. Throughout, this course will explore the international networks of people, goods and ideas which animated the Jewish historical experience and continue to shape our world today.

PHIL 367 - Jewish Philosophy (Winter)

PHIL 367 - Jewish Philosophy (Winter)

An examination of key Jewish thought from Philo to Fackenheim, exploring such themes as the relationship between philosophy, literature, law, and religion; developments within Jewish philosophy; non-Jewish influences on Jewish thought and vice-versa. Contributions to contemporary philosophical work such as those in bioethics and postmodernism may also be considered.

POLS 349

POLS 349  - Contemporary Antisemitism: Attitudes, Beliefs, and Practices (Fall)

This course addresses key questions about contemporary antisemitism. It examines various ways antisemitism has been conceptualized and identifies its main attributes. It also examines how its contemporary manifestations are similar and different from the past, and how they are expressed in the social and political arenas, and other domains.

RELS 234 - Judaism (Fall)

RELS 131 - World Religions (Full Year)

Introduces religion in India, China and Japan; also the movements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism.

Rels 209

RELS 209 - Radical Jews (Fall)

This course examines the life and work of Jewish radical thinkers: analysts, anarchists, communists, feminists, environmentalists, and anti-nationalists. We will be interested both in the ways they created difficulties for dominant cultural and political institutions, and traditional Jewish authorities.

RELS 221

RELS 201 - Leonard Cohen and Religion (Winter)

This course will explore how Leonard Cohen’s music reflects his deep fascination with a wide range of religious and mystical concepts from Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim traditions. From his hometown of Montreal to the beautiful island of Hydra in Greece, and from a Zen Monastery in California to the vibrant streets of Mumbai in India, this course will embark on an immersive journey through Cohen’s spiritual quest that illuminates the interconnection between art, religion, and the human experience. It will delve into the themes present in Cohen’s work, such as the relationship between sexuality and the divine, the haunting questions surrounding evil and the Holocaust, the search for redemption, exploration of death and darkness, and recognition of life’s dualities. Exclusive access to archival audio-visual materials will enhance each class session while guest speakers who had personal connections with Leonard Cohen will provide unique perspectives that enrich students’ learning experience.

RELS 234 - Judaism (Fall)

RELS 398 - Jewish Cultural and Political Thought (Fall)

The development of modern Jewish thought and practice, including the Reform, Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. The consequences of the Holocaust and the establishment of the modern State of Israel.