Judaic Studies Curriculum
1. Hebrew 200, 231 or equivalent
2. JDST/RELG 104: Judaism
3. RELG 103: Hebrew Scriptures in Context
4. One course focused on Late Antiquity or the Medieval period (Kabbalah; Jews in the Medieval World; Crusades; Love, Sex & Hebrew Texts)
5. JDST 250/RELG 260: Beyond Belief
6. One course focusing on the American Jewish Experience (Judaism in the US; American Jewish Literature; Jews & Hollywood)
7. One course focusing on Israel (Arab Israeli Conflict; Israeli Politics; Mid East Cinema)
8. Two Electives (Women, Gender & Judaism; Jewish Environmental Ethics; Holocaust in Italian Cinema; Ethnography of Jewish Experience)
9. RELG 390 (or methods course in an appropriate discipline)
10.JDST 490 or JDST 550: Senior Thesis
1. JDST/RELG 104: Judaism
2. JDST/RELG 103: Hebrew Scriptures in Context
3. JDST 250/RELG 260: Beyond Belief
4. Three electives
Suggested Four Year Program
First Year: HEBR 103, 104; RELG 103
Second Year: HEBR 116,231; JDST 219; RELG 104
Third Year: PHIL 261; JDST 260; RELG 260
Fourth Year: RELG/JDST 316, Women and Gender in Modern Judaism; RELG 241, American Jewish Fiction or RELG 206
NOTE: Numerous variations are possible; see the coordinator for further courses acceptable toward the major.
Examples of recent Independent Studies are: Maimonides' Medical Ethics, Jews of India, The Ordination of Gay and Lesbian Rabbis in the U.S., Women and Midrash. Contact Prof. Lieber for more information. Independent studies may be approved to substitute for certain requirements for the major.
Honors in the Major
1. Majors in Judaic studies have the option of pursuing departmental honors in their senior year by writing an honors thesis of between 60 and 100 pages demonstrating their ability to engage in sustained advanced research and scholarly endeavor. The thesis project will extend over two semesters. Only the best projects will be granted honors, but any student who completes the project will receive the credit for two semesters of work, i.e., two credits. Students will work with one advisor but may receive guidance from other members of the department.
2. Those wishing to write an honors thesis should register for JDST 550 for the fall semester, and find a research advisor. No later than the third Monday of the semester, the student must submit a formal proposal, outlining the project. Within a week, the department faculty will meet to discuss the proposal and assess its feasibility. Once the proposal is approved, the student and his/her adviser will decide on a schedule of research and writing. The student is expected to adhere to all deadlines set by the advisor.
3. In the spring semester the student once again must register for JDST 550. The first draft of the thesis must be submitted by spring break. Copies will be given to all department faculty plus a designated outside reader. Within two weeks after spring break, members of the department will meet with the student to make comments on the draft. The final draft must be submitted before the end of spring semester classes. A defense date will be set for sometime during the exam period.
Opportunities for Off-Campus Study
As of 2004, Dickinson Programs in Israel have been indefinitely suspended due to an ongoing U.S. State Department travel warning. However, there are other opportunities for Judaic Studies majors to pursue off-campus study. In a unique partnership with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Dickinson students can spend the spring semester of their Junior year in New York City at List College, the Undergraduate College at JTSA. Please see the program coordinator for details and other study abroad options.
107 New Testament in Context
A critical examination and attempt to understand the New Testament as the written traditions which articulated the faith, expectations, and actions of the early Christians as they responded within Jewish and Greek culture to the historical events of their day, and especially as they responded to the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth.
This course is cross-listed as RELG 107.
215 Jewish Environmental Ethics
Since the 1960's many writers on environmental issues have blamed our contemporary environmental crises in part on a so-called "Judeo-Christian" worldview, rooted in the Hebrew Bible. Such writers assert that the biblical heritage shared by these two religious traditions advocates an unhealthy relationship between humanity and nature, one in which human beings are destined to conquer the earth and master it. In this course we will explore Jewish perspectives on nature and the natural world through close readings of biblical and other classical Jewish texts. Emphasizing the way "land" figures as an important theme in classical Jewish theology, history and ritual practice, we will also examine the ways in which this motif is re-conceptualized in modern secular contexts (i.e., Zionism and the kibbutz movement). We will conclude by studying contemporary varieties of Jewish environmental advocacy. In addition to texts focused specifically on Judeo-Christian traditions, the syllabus will include other classic works of Environmental ethics foundational to the field of Environmental studies.
Offered every three years in rotation with the offering of ENST 111. This course is cross-listed as RELG 215 and ENST 215.
220 Ethnography of Jewish Experience
Drawing upon ethnographies of Jewish communities around the world, this course focuses on such questions as: What is Jewish culture? What is common to Jewish cultural experiences across time and place? How might we understand the variability and local adaptations of Jewish life? These are the guiding questions and issues for this course, all to be considered within multiple contexts--from pastoral and agricultural roots to modern urban experience, from Middle Eastern origins to a Diaspora experience stretching across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
This course fulfills the DIV 1.a. or DIV II distribution requirement. Offered every two years. This course is cross-listed as RELG 260 and SOCI 260.
240 Women, Gender and Judaism
This course examines issues of gender in Jewish religion and culture. Starting with the representation of women in the Bible and other classical Jewish texts, we study the highly differentiated gender roles maintained by traditional Jewish culture, and examine the role American feminism has played in challenging those traditional roles. We will also study gender issues in contemporary Israeli society, such as the politics of marriage and divorce, public prayer and gender in the military. Some knowledge of Judaism and Jewish history is helpful, but not required as a prerequisite for this course.
243 Dead Sea Scrolls
The discovery of a cache of ancient scrolls in 1947 in caves near the Dead Sea led to a revolution in the study of Second Temple Judaism and Christian origins. This course will focus on these texts, situating them in the context of the history of Judaism from the Hellenistic period through the first century C.E. What do they reveal about beliefs and institutions of the Essenes, the enigmatic community which produced them? What was life like at Qumran, the Essene community's center? How did the sect start, how did it differ from mainstream Judaism, and what was its vision of the future? What possible connections existed between the Essene community and the emergence of Christianity? How have the Dead Sea scrolls contributed to the study of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament?
This course is cross-listed as RELG 243.
245 Hidden Scriptures
Besides the books included in the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) and the New Testament, a number of texts were excluded for various reasons. Their circulation and reading were discouraged, but they survived nonetheless. This course examines these texts, placing them in their historical context and using them as a "lens" through which we can better understand Judaism in the Hellenistic and Roman period and Christianity in some of its primitive (often "heretical") expressions.
This course is cross-listed as RELG 245.
247 Saints and Demons
This course will examine the complex relationship of Jews and Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa, from the dawn of Islam through the 20th century, drawing upon religious studies, cultural historical and ethnographic perspectives. We will examine sources from the "high" traditions of both religious communities, and spend the bulk of the semester closely examining "popular" traditions - such as saint veneration and spirit possession - which will challenge the idea that Jewish and Muslim ritual and practice are wholly separate and distinct.
This course fulfills the DIV I.a. distribution requirement and Comparative Civilizations graduation requirement. This course is cross-listed as RELG 247 and MEST 250. Offered every two years.
250 Beyond Belief: Jewish Secular Culture from Spinoza to Seinfeld
Many Jews nowadays define themselves in secular or cultural terms rather than religious ones. But how did the tradition of secular Judaism come to be? This course will survey the development of secular Jewish identity through an examination of key thinkers over the last three and a half centuries, including Spinoza, Freud, Marx and Einstein. The course will conclude with an examination of secular Judaism in American culture - the drama of Clifford Odets and Arthur Miller, the films of Mel Brooks and Sidney Lumet, and the television shows Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
This course fulfills the DIV II distribution requirement. Offered every year. This course is cross-listed as RELG 260.
262 Zionism: Ideology, Institutions, Cultures and Contestation
This course aims to provide students with a multi-dimensional understanding of Zionism as a political ideology that found its expression in the creation of a state, the establishment of a particular set of economic and cultural institutions as well as in the creation of new conceptions of land, space, and group interaction. At once a future-oriented revolutionary ideology and revivalist movement based on the idea of returning to an ancient homeland, the significance of Zionism in 20th and 21st centuries cannot be understated. Zionism (or rather, Zionists), produced a state Israel whose foundation has roiled politics in the Middle East until today. This course will look at the particular historical circumstances that gave rise to Zionism in the late 19th century, Zionist institutions, political culture and dominant historical narratives. The course will conclude with a detailed examination of more contemporary critics of Zionism both from within Israel and outside of it.
This course is cross-listed as MEST 262 and POSC 290. This course fulfills the DIV I.a. or DIV II social sciences distribution requirement and the Comparative Civilizations graduation requirement.
264 Politics, Society and Culture in Israel
This course provides an overview of the major political, social, and cultural forces that have shaped, and continue to shape, modern Israel. It covers the origins of the Zionist movement, political leadership, foreign relations, parties, the electoral system and the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflict more broadly. In society, it focuses on the major cleavages in Israeli society, civil society, consumerism, as well as the impact of the Holocaust and the role of the Israel Defense Forces. The cultural component centers largely on poetry, short stories and changes in popular music. The course is intended to add nuance and depth to the often one-dimensional portrayal of Israel in the media and provide students with the analytical tools to better understand events in the Middle East.
This course fulfills the DIV. I.a. or DIV II social sciences distribution requirement and the Comparative Civilizations graduation requirement. This course is cross-listed as MEST 264 and POSC 264.
316 Topics in Judaic Studies
See course description with RELG 316 listing.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic.
490 Senior Thesis
An independent project supervised by the Judaic Studies coordinator and an adviser from the appropriate department. The product of this course will be a written term paper that is also defended orally before a panel of three professors.
Open to senior Judaic Studies majors only.
*103, 104 Elementary Modern Hebrew
Introduction to the modern Hebrew language. Alphabet, phonics and grammatical structures. Emphasizes development of reading comprehension, composition and conversational skills.
116 Intermediate Modern Hebrew
Formal study of Hebrew language with emphasis on oral practice and writing skills.
Prerequisite: 104 or the equivalent.
200 Advanced Modern Hebrew
Expansion of language proficiency through intensified study of cultural and literary texts, including poetry, prose, essays, newspapers, films, and songs. Extensive discussion of issues related to contemporary Israel. Emphasis on the development of reading, writing and conversation skills.
Prerequisite: 116 or the equivalent.
231 Hebrew Conversation and Composition
Advanced practice in conversation, reading and writing. Careful attention to grammar and style.
232 Topics in Hebrew Literature
Thematic study of Hebrew literature, with an emphasis on close reading, comprehension and interpretation.