The Jewish Studies Program: Courses

Hebrew language courses are in the Language and Culture section.

Klezmer Ensemble
SOA 1510
Refer to Music Courses Open to Students in All Disciplines (Conservatory of Music) for description.

The Ancient Middle East
JST 2035
/ 4 credits / Every year
Explores the ancient civilizations of the Middle East, including those of Egypt, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. Students examine cultural, social, and political movements using texts as well as archaeology as sources. Also offered as HIS 2035.

Jewish Culture and Civilization
JST 2040
/ 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Examines how early Jewish interactions with various cultures affected the development of Judaism. Interactions with Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Christian, and Muslim cultures are explored. Topics include conflicts with external powers, exile, and diaspora. Also offered as HIS 2040.

The Bible
LIT 2530
Refer to Literature Courses 1000–2999 for description.

Issues in the Study of the Holocaust
JST 2815
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
How was the Holocaust possible in the 20th century? This course responds to the question by examining specific issues: German anti-Semitism; Hitler’s rise to power; the genocide process; responses to Nazism and the news of the Holocaust in Jewish and international communities; resistance and collaboration; and theological and moral questions. Also offered as HIS 2815.

Israeli Literature
JST 2855
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
In this literature-in-translation course, literary texts are used to explore concerns that have been prevalent in Israeli culture and society from the inception of the state to the present. Themes may include Zionism, conflict between generations, religious and secular impulses, and the complex relationships between Jews and Arabs. Also offered as LIT 2855.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
JST 2871
/ 3 credits / Every year
Considers the profound influence Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have exerted on the social, cultural, and political history of the East and the West. This course examines the historical developments, tenets, and scriptures of the three religions. Also offered as HIS 2870.

The Golden Land: American Jewish Literature and Film
JST 2873
Refer to LIT 2872 in Literature Courses: 1000–2999 for description.

Literature of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
JST 3037
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
What kinds of storytelling techniques do Israeli and Palestinian writers employ when they write about the conflict that has plagued their lands for generations? What commonalities and differences emerge when Israeli and Palestinian narratives are read together? Authors include Emile Habiby, Ghassan Kanafani, David Grossman, and Dahlia Ravikovitch. Hebrew and Arabic works are read in translation. Also offered as LIT 3037.

Jews in American Society and Culture
JST 3209
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
A survey of American Jewry from the 1650s to the present, with emphasis on immigration patterns, economic accomplishment, interaction with non-Jews, and the Americanization of Judaism. Also offered as HIS 3209.

The Bible and Modern Thought
JST 3210
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
This course addresses some of the ways in which biblical topics are relevant within the context of the modern world. For instance, the prophetic Book of Amos addresses such topics as social justice, doom vs. the possibility of redemption, ritual vs. ethics, and universalism vs. particularism. Students examine these issues as presented in the Bible and discuss how they are germane to the present time.

Women in the Biblical/Ancient World
JST 3235
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
An exploration of gender issues in the ancient world. Beginning with the ancient Near East and the biblical world in particular, students discuss portrayals of women, as well as their actual roles in society. Using textual and archaeological evidence, the course branches out to the related cultures of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Also offered as HIS 3235 and GND 3235.

Modern European Jewish History
JST 3240
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Focuses on the forces that profoundly transformed Jewish life after 1650. Topics include Hasidism, emancipation, the Jewish Enlightenment, life under the Czar, modern racial anti-Semitism, and the rise of Nazism. Also offered as HIS 3240.

The Land of Israel: Ancient to Modern
JST 3245
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
An exploration of the peoples, religions, cultures, places, and monuments of the land of Israel. Home to three major world religions, the land has been embraced, fought over, and conquered repeatedly throughout history. Why? Students explore the reasons for Israel’s prominence and discover how its position and importance in the worldview is constantly being reinvented. Also offered as HIS 3245.

Biblical History 1200–200 B.C.
JST 3255
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
The historicity of the Hebrew Bible is explored, from the protohistory of the Israelites as related through the Pentateuch and early prophetic works, through the period of the Monarchies, to the 6th-century B.C. exile, the birth of early Judaism, and the books of prophets and writings. Issues relating to historiography and biblical criticism are essential elements in this course. Also offered as HIS 3255.

Travelers to the Holy Land
JST 3295
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Explores the phenomenon of Westerners traveling to Palestine as explorers and pilgrims. Students concentrate on the journeys and their perils, the cultural and religious clashes they embodied, and the motivations of the individual travelers, including religion, politics, and personal gain. The course begins with travelers of the Middle Ages and quickly moves toward the 19th century. Also offered as HIS 3295.

Encounter and Conflict: History of Jewish-Christian Relations
JST 3325
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
The historical relationship of Judaism and Christianity and the encounter of the Jewish and Christian communities from ancient to contemporary times are examined. Topics include the split between the two religions in late antiquity, medieval disputations, and the challenges of the modern period. Students also examine the varying ways in which texts can be interpreted. Also offered as HIS 3325.

Modern Jewish Philosophy
JST 3330
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Can there be such a thing as a Jewish philosophy or a philosophy of Judaism? How have Jewish traditions participated in philosophical questioning? What is the relationship of religion or theology to philosophy (revelation vs. reason)? This course emphasizes 20th-century considerations of these questions, with readings of Buber, Rosenzweig, Heschel, Fackenheim, Kaplan, Solveitchik, and Levinas, among others. Also offered as PHI 3330.

The Archaeology of Ancient Israel
JST 3335
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Covers the archaeology of the land of Israel from the Neolithic Period to the end of the Iron Age, marked by the destruction of the first Jewish temple. This long period witnessed major events in the history of ancient Israel. This course uses archaeological and other forms of evidence, focusing on how that evidence is analyzed and treated. Also offered as HIS 3335.

Politics and Archaeology
JST 3337
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Explores the relationship between politics and archaeology. Topics include who owns antiquities; fakes, forgeries, and the manipulating of history; presentations of archaeology to the public; buying, selling, and auctioning of antiquities; and archaeology in wartime. The geographic range of topics includes Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Syria, and other countries in region, as well as Greece and Rome. Also offered as HIS 3337.

Music and Cultural Expression in the Middle East
JST 3405
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Examines the interrelations of musical practice and sociocultural processes in the Middle East. Through the study of Middle Eastern pop, indigenous, religious, and classical art music, students explore music and religion, contemporary politics, and gender formations as well as composition and improvisation techniques. Also offered as MUS 3405.

Archaeological Issues in the Southern Levant
JST 3455
/ 4 credits / Summer (offered in Israel)
The remains of architecture, ceramics, and other material culture are explored in this survey of the archaeology of the Southern Levant (ancient Canaan, Israel, Judah, Transjordan). The timeframe spans prehistory through the Ottoman Period, concentrating on the Bronze and Iron Ages. Students also examine the growth of the discipline of archaeology and the subspecialties needed to interpret and analyze artifacts and stratigraphy. Also offered as HIS 3455 and ANT 3455.

Methods and Techniques in Field Archaeology
JST 3456
/ 4 credits / Summer (offered in Israel)
In this field school for archaeology in Israel, students participate in all aspects of excavation. Students learn techniques of field archaeology, including skills necessary for proper excavation: stratigraphic analysis, field recording, lab registering and processing archaeological materials, use of the grid system, surveying, archaeological drawing, basic ceramic analysis, and basic methods for processing and preserving artifacts. Also offered as HIS 3456 and ANT 3456.

Archaeological Field Survey and Study
JST 3457
/ 3 credits / Alternate years (Summer, in Israel)
Students participate in an archaeological ground survey and are introduced to methods of processing and analyzing ceramics and artifacts. This intensive two-week course, which is primarily a field practicum combined with lectures, is part of Archaeology in Israel, a summer study-abroad program. Also offered as HIS 3457 and ANT 3457.

Theatrical Representations of the Holocaust
JST 3709
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Critics agree that the world of the concentration camps and ghettos is impossible to duplicate on stage. Despite serious aesthetic and practical constraints, playwrights in Europe, Israel, and America have, for the last five decades, created a diverse group of plays dealing with this unprecedented 20th-century event. Works examined in class include documentary dramas, realistic reenactments, absurdist plays, a comedy, and a standup routine. Also offered as LIT 3709 and THP 3709.

Literature of the Holocaust
JST 3725
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Despite the imperative to accept shocked silence as the most appropriate response to the Nazi genocide, the Holocaust experience has inspired a powerful and eloquent body of literary expression, especially in fiction and poetry. This course considers some of the significant authors and texts that constitute the literature (e.g., Appelfeld, Schwarz-Bart, Wiesel, Singer, Borowski, and Wallant). Also offered as LIT 3725.
Prerequisite: LWR 1110 or permission of instructor

The Arab-Israeli Conflict
JST 3780
Refer to HIS 3780 in History Courses for description.

For updates during 2013–2015, please visit

Arrow up icon | << School of Humanities home

Search the Catalog

School of Humanities


Jewish Studies:

The Program & Minor