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College of Arts & Sciences
Jewish Studies Program

Jewish Studies (JSTU) Courses

Jewish Studies Courses

JSTU 230
Introduction to Judaism

Course Description: This course offers van overview of Jewish experiences, beliefs, practices from a contextual point of view.

Cross-listed with: Religious Studies RELG 230

JSTU 301 
Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

Course Description: This course is a modern study of the Hebrew Bible from historical, literary, and archeological points of view. Reading and analysis of texts in translation are included. Course content offers a critical study of the literature of the Old Testament emphasizing its historical development and meaning in the life of ancient Israel.

The Hebrew Bible is a cornerstone of Western culture, literature, and religion. For more than two thousand years, the Hebrew Bible – from its stories to laws, hymns to prophecies – has served as religious, artistic, and psychological inspiration for multitudes. This course will offer the opportunity to experience, contextualize, critique, and enjoy the Hebrew Bible in its diversity.

This course will immerse you in the diverse literary worlds of the Hebrew Bible, emphasizing how rich the multiple voices contained within the various biblical texts can be. This is an academic and not devotional course, and as we read and learn together we will be guided by the assumption that the Hebrew Bible contains different works composed in different historical contexts from a multiplicity of viewpoints.

Cross-listed with: Religious Studies RELG 301

 JSTU 373 
Literature and Film of the Holocaust

Course Description: This course offers a critical study of the literature and film related to the history and development of the Holocaust. Film, poetry and literature created in response to the Holocaust as the means for a decades long cultural discussion, in European and American societies, of the moral and religious implications of the Holocaust on our self-understandings as religious and moral beings. 

Cross-listed with: Religious Studies RELG 373

JSTU 381
Jewish History I: Late Antiquity to 1500

Course Description: This course covers the religious, cultural, social, and political conditions that shaped the Jewish experience in the Near East and Europe from Late Antiquity to 1500. The course surveys Jewish history from the Second Temple Period to 1492 and offers insights in the highly complex history of the Jews living under western Christendom and Islam. We will begin in Late Antiquity, a period that set the stage for the development of Judaism as we know it today and will move on to the medieval Jewish experience with a special emphasis on the Mediterranean and especially Iberia. We will read some of the foundational texts that determined the host society's stance vis-à-vis the Jewish communities (and vice versa) for much of the period under discussion and explore the religious, cultural, social, and political conditions that shaped the Jewish experience. We will look at the achievements of these societies in law and social organization, prophetic movements, the history of the Israelite religion and early Judaism, and ancient Hebrew and Jewish literatures. 

Our central sources are the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and Rabbinic literature, archaeological excavations in Israel and neighboring lands, and recent discoveries of ancient writings in Hebrew and related languages such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. All of these have greatly contributed to our understanding of the history of Judaism and the emergence of Christianity. Of particular interest is the early development of Israelite monotheism, which, in time, emerged as ancient Judaism, the mother religion of Christianity and Islam. All readings are in English.

Cross-listed with: Religious Studies RELG 381 & History HIST 383

JSTU 382
Jewish History II: 1500 to the Present

Course Description: This course provides case studies of Jewish history in Europe, America, and the land of Israel, 1500 to the present. The course will introduce students to the major developments in Jewish history since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. The first half of the course will explore Jewish life on the European continent and focus, among others, on the Sephardi Diaspora, on Court Jews, and on the Jewish Enlightenment (the Haskalah). We will then run our attention to the modern period and examine the quest for legal and social emancipation, the rise of the Jewish Question, and the various responses to this question on the part of the Jews, incl. acculturation, Socialism, Zionism, and large-scale emigration to the West. In the second half of the course our lens thus widens to include the American-Jewish experience.

Cross-listed with: Religious Studies RELG 382 & History HIST 384 

JSTU 387
Jews and Muslims

Course Description: This course will cover Jewish-Muslim relations in the Near East and the US. It includes an exploration of Jewish-Muslim encounters, as well as issues of religious law, politics, and radical religious ideologies. Repercussions for today’s society will also be discussed.

                                                                  Cross-listed with: Religious Studies RELG 387

JSTU 471
American Jewish History

Course Description: Examination of experiences of Jews in the United States from Colonial Period to late 20th century, especially Jewish immigration, political behavior, social mobility, religious affiliation, group identity formation, and meaning of Anti-Semitism in American and global contexts.  

Cross-listed with: Religious Studies HIST 471 

 JSTU 475
Visions of Apocalypse

Course Description: This course discusses symbolic visions, tours of heaven and hell, cosmic battles, divine judgment, messianic figures, prophecy, or other forms of revelation as found in literature, art, or social movements from diverse geographical and historical locations all involve an intensive study of special topics in Jewish Studies. Many of these course offerings will emphasize interdisciplinary themes. 

Cross-listed with: Religious Studies RELG 475 

 JSTU 491
Special Topics in Jewish Studies

Course Description: These courses all involve an intensive study of special topics in Jewish Studies. Many of these course offerings will emphasize interdisciplinary themes. 

Maybe be repeated as content varies by suffix and title. 

JSTU 492
The History of the Holocaust

Course Description: This course introduces students to Nazi Germany’s systematic mass murder of Europe’s Jews and other minorities during the Second World War. We will examine the forces that led to the Holocaust, including the emergence of scientific racism, the implementation of Nazi policy towards the Jews, and the dynamics of annihilation in a condition of war. We will explore the motivations and actions of the perpetrators and ask why citizens of a country known for its cultural and intellectual prowess could turn into mass murderers. In addition, we will consider the fate of the victims, their resistance efforts and coping mechanisms during the war, and their attempts to recover and to memorialize in the post-war period.

Cross-listed with: History HIST 380