Courses

Note: H = Honors; MPC = Miami Plan Capstone; MPF = Miami Plan Foundation; MPT = Miami Plan Thematic Sequence.

AMS/ENG 230 - Jewish American Fiction Since 1945 (3)

This course will examine the contributions of Jewish-American writers to American fiction in the years since the Second World War. In addition to such issues as identity and (ambivalent) assimilation into the American mainstream, the course will explore the writers' responses to the Holocaust and to the many changes in American culture.
CAS-B-LIT.

CLS 310.J - Jews Among the Greeks and Romans (3)

The consequences of the Jewish diaspora have long held important historical resonance. Notions of a Jewish diaspora, for example, featured prominently in debates surrounding the foundation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948. In this course, we will examine the Jewish diaspora from "its beginnings" in antiquity, raising questions about the meaning of diaspora itself as well as it consequences for Jewish life among the Greeks and Romans. More specifically, we will explore what Jewish identity meant in antiquity (including how it was conceived and performed by the Jews themselves living outside of Palestine), how Jews were in turn perceived by the Greeks and Romans, and how the study of Jewish difference in antiquity can lead to a broader understanding of ancient Greek and Roman attitudes towards, and management of, identity and difference in both their writings and state policies.

ENG/GER 180.K - The Jewish Immigrant Experience in America (3) H

Miserable economic conditions and waves of pogroms in the tsarist Russian Empire sent millions of Eastern European Jews to America between 1881 and 1924, when Congress drastically restricted the immigration of "undesirable" Eastern and Southern Europeans. America provided new opportunities but also presented complex new challenges. This course explores these opportunities and challenges as they manifest themselves in the vibrant Jewish immigrant culture of the early 20th century through which Jews re-defined and contested their cultural, religious, and political identities in the new and quickly-changing environment.

ENG/FRE/GER 356 - Contemporary Jewish Fiction in Europe (3)

In this course, we will investigate prose works written by Jewish Europeans from the 1970s to the present. For obvious reasons, the Holocaust radically threw into question the national identities of the tragically few European Jews who survived it. One of our major concerns in this course will be to examine this legacy of ambivalence toward various European national identities as it is passed down, not without inter-generational rebellions and dramatic changes of perspective, through three post-Holocaust generations of European Jewish writers. These writers can be said both to be, and not to be, "at home" in European countries including Germany, Austria, Holland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Poland, and the Soviet Union. While the Holocaust looms large in all Jewish European literature written in its aftermath, the authors we will examine do not only look back at the traumatic recent past of the Jewish experience in Europe. With sensitivity as well as with keen—and at times outrageously irreverent—wit, contemporary Jewish European writers examine the complexities and ironies of the unresolved relations between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Europe today, and envision possible futures.

ENG/FRE/GER 380A - Jewish Modernism (3) H

James Joyce's Ulysses (1922), arguably the most influential work of literary modernism, follows a day in the life of a Dublin Jew, Leopold Bloom. Joyce's construction of the Wandering Jew as modernist anti-hero fuses modernism's preoccupation with such issues as cultural displacement and trans-lingualism with realities—and stereotypes—of modern Jewish experience. In this course, we examine poetry and prose by Jewish modernist authors who wrote in Yiddish, British and American English, Polish, Russian, and German. How did modernist aesthetics and epistemologies offer Jewish writers new tools for grappling with the devastating impact that WWI and its aftermath had on Jewish life in Eastern Europe; with cultural upheaval and disorientation; the pull of powerful ideologies; and with intra-European and trans-continental displacement, among other issues? And how, too, do Jewish modernist works offer new perspectives on such canonical modernist authors as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, who at times defined their aesthetic projects in opposition to their own antisemitic constructions of a "Jewish" cultural threat? All readings in English.

FRE/FST/GER 255 - Visual Representations of the Holocaust (3) MPF

Studying the Holocaust is a profound responsibility yet also presents a tangle of critical and philosophical questions. The role of visual representations in the process of Holocaust memorialization has been particularly contested. In this course, we will approach the question of the visualization of the Holocaust through various media: photography, cinema, TV, graphic novel, painting, and architecture. Visual technologies afford an unparalleled means of sustaining memory but are also susceptible to voyeurism and commodification. We will explore the potentialities and limitations of these media and grapple with critical ethical, epistemological and esthetic questions they raise. Course readings and class discussions in English.
IIB, CUL, H.

FRE/FST/GER 265 - European Jewish Cinema (3)

Survey of European films by Jewish filmmakers or films dealing with Jewish themes, from 1920s to the present. Films with English subtitles. Readings and discussions in English.

FRE/HST 339 - Jews in Modern France: Between Image and Experience (3)

The experience of Jews in modern France, and the figuration of "Jews" in the French cultural imaginary, have been complex and equivocal. In 1791, revolutionary France became the first European country to extend the right of citizenship to Jews. Yet France has also known deep currents of antisemitism. This ambivalence survives into the contemporary moment. In post-war French discourse, Jews have frequently been championed as the bearers of a deterritorialized, decentered, identity-less identity par excellence and, more recently, have been the targets of violence and vilified in ways that both break with and recall traditional antisemitism. In this course, we will explore the experience and the representation of Jews in French society and culture from before the French Revolution of 1789 to the present day in historical documents, novels, political cartoons, philosophical essays, historical scholarship, and films. Course readings and class discussions in English.

FST/RUS 272 - Cultures and Identities of Eastern Europe: An Introduction through Literature and Film (3)

An introduction to the cultures of Eastern Europe, from Poland to the former Yugoslavia, through representative twentieth-century literary works and films, with particular focus on the history of Eastern Europe's Jewish community and the tragedy of the Holocaust.
CAS-LIT-B.

GER 252 - The German-Jewish Experience (3) MPF

Discusses readings of and about major Jewish figures in the German-speaking world. Frames historical background. Discover constants and changes over time. Assesses terms for analyzing culture. In English.
IIB, Cul, H. CAS-B-LIT.

GER 357 - Visualizing the Holocaust

Studying the Holocaust is a profound responsibility yet also presents a tangle of critical and philosophical questions. The role of visual representations in the process of Holocaust memorialization has been particularly contested. Visual technologies afford an unparalleled means of sustaining memory but are also susceptible to voyeurism and commodification, and are wont to elicit problematic identifications. In this course, we will approach the question of the visualization of the Holocaust through various media: photography, cinema, TV, graphic novel, painting, and architecture. We will explore the potentialities and limitations of these media and grapple with critical ethical, epistemological and esthetic questions they raise.

GER 410H - "German-Jewish Love Stories and the Legacy of the Holocaust in Contemporary German Literature and Film"

Although more than half a century has passed since the last concentration camp was liberated, the Holocaust continues to be a prominent historical event that affects international politics, literature, and debates about genocides across the globe. This course explores the overarching question of how traumatic historical events reverberate in a culture and in what ways individuals can—and cannot—escape a horrific national past, even when the desire to connect is there. These texts and films explore and (re)imagine German-Jewish relationships during and after the Holocaust and in analyzing them we will consider a number of questions. In what ways does the Holocaust negatively affect relations between Germans and Jews? What role do their families (and their personal pasts) play in hindering or helping German-Jewish love relationships? Does the Holocaust always open up a chasm between the two lovers that their love cannot bridge? How do 'good' German exceptions make the German-Jewish relationship possible? How are these exceptions gendered, as well as related to normalization? We will explore the ways in which the Holocaust legacy is shifting in Germany, and consider whether the only way for Germans and Jews to relate positively after the Holocaust is to find such exceptions to Nazism. Our discussions will be embedded in the cultural and political contexts of the last two decades in Germany, such as the phenomenon of Jews "sitting on packed suitcases" in the 70s and 80s to recent debates about the "normalization" of the German past and national identity.

HBW 101 - Beginning Modern Hebrew (4)

Basic grammar and development of reading, speaking, writing, and listening skills. No prior study of Hebrew needed.

HBW 102 - Beginning Modern Hebrew (4)

Continuation of basic grammar and development of reading, speaking, writing, and listening skills.
Prerequisite: HBW 101 or equivalent.

HBW 201 - Intermediate Modern Hebrew

Conversation, vocabulary building, readings, composition, grammar.
Prerequisite: HBW 102 or equivalent.

HBW 202 - Intermediate Modern Hebrew

Continued development of conversation skills, vocabulary acquisition, reading and writing strategies, as well as grammar skills.
Prerequisite: HBW 201 or equivalent.

HST 211; FRE/GER/RUS 212 - Secular Jewish Culture From the Enlightenment to Zionism (3) MPT

The Jewish encounter with modernity saw traditional Jewish society as a total socio-religious way of life bifurcate into a more narrowly circumscribed religion, on the one hand, and an ethnic culture, on the other. Coeval with this process, from the moment of their (partial) inclusion in the European nation state, Jews must negotiate their Jewish heritage and religious-cultural identity in relation to modern national identity. In this course we will survey some of the key moments and major developments in secular Jewish culture, thought and politics in Western and Eastern Europe, and to a lesser degree also in the United States and the British Mandate of Palestine, between the late 18th century and the founding of Israel in 1948. We will study attempts to inscribe Jewish identity within various European nationalisms; the relationship between Jewish identity and various forms of (international) socialism; and competing Zionist projects that emerged against the backdrop of fin-de-siècle European antisemitism. All readings in English.
IIB, IIIB, CUL, H. CAS-B.

HST 346 - Medieval Jewish History (3) MPT

The Jewish encounter with modernity saw traditional Jewish society as a total socio-religious way of life bifurcate into a more narrowly circumscribed religion, on the one hand, and an ethnic culture, on the other. Coeval with this process, from the moment of their (partial) inclusion in the European nation state, Jews must negotiate their Jewish heritage and religious-cultural identity in relation to modern national identity. In this course we will survey some of the key moments and major developments in secular Jewish culture, thought and politics in Western and Eastern Europe, and to a lesser degree also in the United States and the British Mandate of Palestine, between the late 18th century and the founding of Israel in 1948. We will study attempts to inscribe Jewish identity within various European nationalisms; the relationship between Jewish identity and various forms of (international) socialism; and competing Zionist projects that emerged against the backdrop of fin-de-siècle European antisemitism. All readings in English. Ashkenaz) including Jewish culture, the beginnings of Christian persecution, and interactions and comparisons to Sephardic Jewish communities.

HST 442 - Ancient Jewish History (3)

What does it mean to be Jewish in the ancient world? Where, and under what social conditions, did Judaism come into being? This course deals with the ancient history of the Jewish people from the Persian through the Greco-Roman periods (539 bce-200 ce), during which Judaism—the "way of life" of the Jewish people—first emerged within the broader sociopolitical and cultural context of the ancient Near East. This is a story of how the Jewish people began to define their identity, as Jews, and find their place in a world as politically and culturally complex as our own. In this course we will study how Jews preserved their communal traditions and Israelite legacy through a variety of approaches to foreign cultures and rulers, such as the Persians, Greeks and Romans. Jews survived and flourished in a majority non-Jewish world through a process of "creative communal reinvention" revealed in the architecture, coins, inscriptions and literature of the period, which we will study throughout this course. In sum, this course provides a basic knowledge of ancient Jewish history, essential for understanding both the origins of Judaism and the great significance of the ancient Jewish cultural legacy for later Judaism, Christianity, Islam and western society as a whole.

HST 472 - Germany 1918 to 1945 (3)

This course explores German society, politics, and culture from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second, arguably the most turbulent period in European history. We address the central question of how and why Germany moved from a remarkably liberal and progressive democracy to one of history's most brutal and repressive dictatorships in the span of two decades. We will also look at the legacy of National Socialism and the long shadow that it continues to cast over Germany, and Europe, to this day.

REL 180.M - Violence and Warfare in the Bible and the Middle East

Throughout the millennia, one thing remained constant in the societies of the ancient Near East: the centrality of warfare and violence. This class will examine how violence is presented in the narratives, law codes, and inscriptions of this area and will address such questions as why people make war and why violence is used not only to destroy, but also to shape cultures and societies. Students will learn to utilize a diverse array of sources to uncover details about the social and political history of ancient civilizations. Texts examined will include various books of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), including Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and Ezekiel, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Hammurapi's Code, and various apocalyptic texts, e.g., the books of Daniel, Enoch, and Revelation.

REL 275 - Introduction to the Critical Study of Biblical Literature (3) MPF

This is an introductory survey class, requiring no prior knowledge of the Bible. In this class students will examine selected texts from the Bible employing tools of critical biblical scholarship, such as (but not limited to) literary analysis, textual criticism, feminist theory, socio-historical criticism, and biblical archaeology. Students will approach the texts by situating them within their ancient Near Eastern or ancient Mediterranean cultural contexts. Consequently, in addition to the Bible students will necessarily become familiar with non-canonical texts written by Jews and early Christians, as well as with relevant analogies from non-Jewish and non-Christian textual sources. The Bible as Sacred Scripture: Obviously, most communities of Jews and Christians understand the Bible to be in some sense foundational. In this role, believers often employ these "sacred" texts theologically to shape both the internal life of their community and their community's relations to the broader society. While the instructors will often discuss the Bible's influence on Judaism and Christianity, students must never loose sight of the fact that this course is not a "Bible study." The instructors will not commend the Bible to students as sacred, nor will they or the course materials advocate religion in general or in particular. This means that the instructors will not approach these texts as they are understood or interpreted by religious tradition or dogma, nor will they offer conclusions about the Bible's relevance for today. Students will be required to look at the Bible in an academic, scholarly manner, assuming that the biblical texts are, as any other "sacred" text from the ancient world, susceptible to critical analysis. In other words, students will study the texts as ancient literature created within a specific historical, religious, political, and sociological contexts that reflect the ideologies and concerns of the human authors and editors. Students will learn to apply the critical priorities and methods that have come to characterize modern biblical scholarship. Biblical scholars raise questions provoked by the very nature and contents of the texts in order to arrive at new insights, and develop further questions. Because the biblical texts make not only metaphysical statements but also claims that firmly ground them in history, the critical work of scholarship inevitably reveals tensions between what we can understand on the basis of historical evidence and what the believer accepts by faith. In the end, this course and those for which this course serves as a prerequisite, require students to understand and accurately articulate the critical, scholarly perspective whether or not they come finally to embrace it. Although this course is not designed to advocate any general or particular religious perspective, by the very nature of its subject matter, it will provoke questions about the role of religious tradition in contemporary society. Such questions are inevitable given the importance of the Bible to so many religious communities. With due respect to such questions, the instructors will work to provide a forum (e. g., Blackboard Discussion Boards) for the examination of the implications and consequences of the historical study of the Bible that is independent from the evaluation structure of the course. Students intent on taking this course are advised to consider seriously their ability (and desire) to engage a different and likely challenging interpretation of texts that for them may serve as the foundation for deeply held personal convictions or religious truths.
IIB.

REL 286 - Global Jewish Civilization (3) MPF

How did the Jewish people persist through the vicissitudes of enslavement, conquest, dispersion, and return, over the course of three thousand years of history? In this course, we will study of the encounter between Jews and the cultures and lands in which they lived, through a consideration of Jewish sacred texts and literature, spanning the globe from Ancient Mesopotamia to modern America.
IIB, IIIB. CAS-B.

REL 311 - Archaeology and Biblical Studies (3)

This course will survey the archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean region from Bronze Age (2000 BCE) through the Early Roman period (ca. 135 CE), with special attention to the Iron Age. We will explore the history, geography, and chronology of the area, as well as the ideology of archaeology, the development of its techniques, and its key contributions to understanding the Bible. Settlement patterns, the material culture, fortifications, monumental architecture, domestic contexts, cultic and other objects will be discussed along with the question of the ethnic and religious identities of the various groups who settled this land during the different periods. As Syro-Palestinian archaeologists dig up the past, their discoveries not only impact the interpretations of biblical texts but also the present political situation in the Middle East. Many of the tenets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam center on events that are detailed in the Bible and purportedly grounded in history. Yet recent archaeological data raises questions about the historicity behind these sacred texts. For example, if David and Solomon's United Kingdom was so vast, why have archaeologists failed to uncover corroborating evidence? Was there an exodus from Egypt according to the archeological records? Have we found archaeological evidence of goddess worship in Ancient Israel? We will examine these and other controversies that occur when the archaeological and biblical "texts" are juxtaposed.
Prerequisite: REL 175
Please note that this is an upper division course, therefore readings will be numerous and often technical. Knowledge of critical biblical studies including familiarity with exegetical methodology and ancient Near Eastern history will be assumed.

REL 312 - Religions of the Hebrew Bible (3) MPT

How did the Jewish people persist through the vicissitudes of enslavement, conquest, dispersion, and return, over the course of three thousand years of history? In this course, we will read the core biblical texts that constituted the anchor for the Israelite nation, exploring central motifs such as "the chosen people", covenant, sacred time and space, "the promised land", exile and return. Students will engage with the tools of critical biblical scholarship, such as literary analysis, form criticism, and biblical archaeology. They will also be exposed to Mesopotamian and Egyptian literature and inscriptions, including cosmologies, myths, legal and economic texts as well as archaeological data which form the background to the composition of the Bible. We will also explore varied interpretations of biblical texts from within the Jewish traditions. In addition to the Bible, students will also become familiar with non-canonical texts written by Jews, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. This Miami Plan courses fulfills partial requirement for thematic sequence REL 2 and REL 5. The course also fulfills one of the core requirements for the Jewish Studies Thematic Sequence, by introducing students to a critical reading of the Hebrew Bible, the primary source for shaping the destiny of the Jewish people. This is an introductory survey class, requiring no prior knowledge of the Hebrew Bible.

REL 314 - Social and Religious History of the Jewish People (3) MPF, MPT

Cultural, social, and religious history of Jews in Europe, America, and the Middle East since Enlightenment with emphasis on 20th century and in the context of the larger society and culture.
IIB. CAS-B.
Note: Themes such as Judaism and Sex/Gender

REL 334 - Women's Religious Experience in the Ancient Mediterranean World (3) MPT

The goal of the course is not to teach you theology, although in order to understand our ancient witnesses we will need to describe their religious beliefs. Neither this course, nor its instructors, advocate or promote any religion, or particular religious system of belief or practice. This is an historical survey, the nature of which will be explained as we go along. While a certain number of historical details (concepts, names, places, dates) must be learned before you can begin to understand the phenomena we will be examining, your primary emphases will be on: 1) Learning the basic steps in interpreting essentially foreign texts (texts originating in another culture, in another language, and in another time and place); 2) Exercising critical thinking skills that are applicable to all other areas of university study; 3) Understanding the nature of historical investigation, its uncertainties and its limitations, and particularly the crucial issues and problems which characterize the historical study of religion. 4) Recognizing that gender roles are social constructs. Our focus will be the evidence for the experience of women in cult, both as characters within myth and as actors who believe certain propositions and participate in religious rituals that embody those propositions. Professors Bidmead and Hanges will be teaching the material from an historical-developmental (dia-chronological), as well as from a synchronic, or comparative, perspective.
Offered infrequently.

REL/WGS 335 - Women in the Bible (3)

In this course, we will study the images of women in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and related literature from the Second Temple Period—Eve and Lillith, the matriarchs of Genesis, Tamar and the daughters of Lot, Queen Jezebel, Mother Mary and others. We will explore the roles that women play within biblical narratives (as wives and mothers; as heroes and villains; as warriors, queens, and prophets), drawing upon different interpretations of these ancient texts over the centuries and across cultures. In our secondary reading, we will also explore how modern feminist readings cast a new light on our understanding of the biblical text. We will ask what these ancient, literary representations of women and femininity might tell us about the experiences of "real" women and men within their historical context, but also see how these biblical stories have been reinterpreted according to the values of different times and cultures, and discuss the ways in which the biblical depictions of women have impacted the understanding of gender in Western culture, past and present.
No prerequisite required.

REL 360 - Genesis and Gender

This is an advanced level seminar course. Prior coursework in ancient near eastern studies, or biblical studies required. This semester we will examine the first book of the Bible, Genesis, with a particular focus on gender roles, issues of women's power and authority (or lack thereof); sexuality, narrative and cultural representations of the women of Genesis. In addition to reading Genesis, we will also place the text in its socio-historical context by reading ancient Mesopotamian and Canaanite myths. Jewish, Christian and Muslim interpretations of the texts have been used throughout history to define gender roles and society hierarchies. We will examine many of these variant interpretations to understand the complexity of the Genesis texts. There are variant methodologies scholars employ to understand biblical texts — feminist and womanist theory, ideological criticism, cross-cultural comparison, literary analysis, intertextuality, autobiographical criticism, midrash, socio-historical criticism, cultural criticism (film theory, art history) and biblical archaeology.
Prerequisite: REL 175 or REL 211 or permission of instructor

REL 385 - The Religious Roots of Anti-Semitism (3) MPT

Study of the religious roots of anti-Semitism, beginning with the New Testament, through the church fathers, and reformers, with particular attention to the impact of the ghetto in Jewish-Christian relations.

REL 440/540 - Ancient Near Eastern Literature and Religions (1-4)

Selected texts and/or themes in ancient Near Eastern religions studied critically in their socio-historical and cultural context. Texts may include inscriptions, myths, legal documents, biblical/non-canonical works, Dead Sea Scrolls, or rabbinic writings. This is an advanced level seminar course. Prior coursework in ancient near eastern studies, biblical studies or graduate standing required. This semester we will examine the Torah through the multifaceted lenses of critical biblical scholarship, employing exegetical methodologies such as (but not limited to) ideological criticism, cross-cultural comparison, literary analysis, intertextuality, feminist and womanist theory, autobiographical criticism, midrash, socio-historical criticism, and biblical archaeology. We will also examine selected Mesopotamian literature including cosmologies, myths, legal and economic texts. Other biblical texts as well as non-canonical writings, the Dead Sea Scrolls, selections from the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus, rabbinic writings and early Christian commentaries will also be considered as we attempt to understand the various interpretations of the text.