Curriculum Overview 

The Judaic Studies program is designed to introduce students to the religion, history and literature of the Jewish people and to their interactions with the other peoples among whom they have lived. In the Western world, Jewish thought has been foundational to our common culture, yet the experience of the Jewish people, like that of other excluded minorities, has often diverged profoundly from that of the majority. The study of Judaism and of the varieties of Jewish experience can thus be both a complement and a corrective, to any course of study examining the history and culture of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Americas. The program for minors provides a comprehensive introduction to the religious, cultural and political traditions of Jewish life from its origins to present day.

A major in Judaic Studies may be arranged through the Special Studies Program described in this Catalog. A Joint Major consists of eight Judaic Studies courses in addition to designated courses from any department/program offering a major. At least two of the Judaic Studies courses must be Hebrew language.

A minor in Judaic Studies consists of six courses: JST 112; one of the following courses: JST 154, 252; one of the following courses: JST 153, 212; three electives, two of which can be Hebrew language and at least one of which must be an upper-division seminar or independent study. At least one course (excluding JST 112) must be taught by HIS faculty; at least one course (excluding JST 112) must be taught by RST faculty. Minors must take at least four courses at Franklin & Marshall. To be considered for honors in Judaic Studies, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must complete and defend a thesis of high quality.

Minors in the Judaic Studies Program have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: Hebrew University; Tel Aviv University; CET Academic Programs Jewish Studies in Prague; Crossworld of Three Cultures in Avila, Spain; CIEE Program in Czech Republic. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses in Modern Hebrew Language

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement.

101, 102. Elementary Modern Hebrew I and II.
101. Every Fall; 102. Every Spring

Introduction to the basic structures and vocabulary of Modern Hebrew, oral and written.    
Greenshpan

201, 202. Intermediate Modern Hebrew I and II. (LS) (NW) (H for 202)
201. Every Fall; 202. Every Spring
 
Di Giulio

301. Reading Hebrew Texts and Contexts. (H)
In addition to expanding their knowledge of Hebrew grammar through the study of more complex structures, students in this course will read contemporary fiction in its historical and socio-cultural context. In particular, the course will examine the interplay between Hebrew literature and life in Israel in the work of such authors as Savyon Liebercht, Etgar Keret, Meir Shalev, and Avigdor Dagan. Course topics will include literary representations of the Israeli landscape, the tension between Israel and the diaspora, and the development of Post-Zionist literary sensibilities.    
Di Giulio

 

Judaic Studies Courses 

112. Judaism. (H) (NW)

This course will focus on a number of classical texts ranging from the biblical period to the present early modern times. With the exception of a few selections, all have had their impact on Jewish culture in the Hebrew language. The chief aim of the course is to immerse students in the questions the texts raise, thus exposing them to continuity and change in Jewish self-understanding over time. The desired outcome is that the students become aware of certain key concepts (e.g. covenant, chosen-ness, prophecy, exile, redemption, Jewish law) and the continuing debates around them. Same as RST 112.    

Feldman

212. Hebrew Bible. (H) (NW)

Study of the writings of the Hebrew Bible. Seeks to understand the historical development of Israel in the biblical period and the religious forms of thought and practice that arose during this time. Same as RST 212.     

Cooper

153. Premodern Jewish History: Jews of East and West Through the Middle Ages. (NW) (S)

Introduction to Jewish history, beginning with first centuries of the Common Era and continuing to end of 17th century. Examines central themes and patterns in Jewish history with focus on the development of major Jewish communities in Christian Europe and the Arab/Muslim world. Course looks at relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish cultures and communities during this time. Same as HIS/RST 153.    

Hoffman

154. Jews in the Modern World. (S)

Introduction to the modern era from late 18th century Emancipation and Enlightenment through the mid-20th century, tracing the transformations of Jewish life. Broad historical sketches are combined with close readings of particular texts, movements, and thinkers to flesh out the contours and dynamics of the Jewish experience in the Modern world. Major events of Jewish history of 20th century (the Holocaust, foundation of the State of Israel, and mass migration of European Jews to the Americas) are examined through secondary and primary sources. Same as HIS/RST 154.    

Hoffman

252. Modern Jewish Thought. (H)

Studies Jewish thinkers from the Enlightenment to the present, through their philosophical writings, political essays, religious reflections and fiction. The chief question was how to make the Jewish tradition adapt or respond to the modern Western State and to modern Western culture. This is a course about the Jews and the West. To what degree is there harmony? To what degree is there conflict? Same as RST 252.     

Feldman

257. Jewish Culture in Eastern Europe. (S)

Course focuses on the Jews of Eastern Europe from the end of the Middle Ages through the present; looks at variety of cultural forms and expressions they have created. From tradition to modernity, Shtetl to Socialism, religious scholarship to secular literature, examines the rich cultural life of East European Jews in all its myriad manifestations. Specific emphasis on transformations in the culture of Yiddish-speaking Jews in Poland and Russia. Same as HIS/RST 257.     

Hoffman

258. Cinema and the American Jewish Experience. (S)

Course explores representations of American Jewish life in cinema and popular culture. Using a historical perspective, it analyzes the different ways in which Jewish identity and culture have been represented in American film. Looks at history of Jews in the US, Jewish involvement in the film industry, and anti-Semitism. Films viewed weekly, including feature films and several documentaries, in class and in an extra viewing session. Same as AMS/HIS/RST 258.            

Hoffman

340. Jews in the Greco-Roman World. (H)

Focuses on Jews and Judaism during the period of profound changes after the conquest of Alexander the Great that were key to development of modern Judaism and Christianity. Surveys variety of Jewish writing from the period: historical; philosophical; apocalyptic; and exegetical. These texts, including Dead Sea scrolls, will be read in combination with modern scholarly works treating Jewish life and history of the period. Same as JST 340.     

Cooper

405. Approaches to Jewish History. (S)

This seminar examines major debates and new trends in Jewish historiography, especially focusing on recent historical writing on the Holocaust and the State of Israel. Same as HIS 405.    

Hoffman

490. Independent Study.

The student pursues an in-depth investigation of a topic of special interest, under the direction of an adviser. Please see the Chair with any questions.

 

Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2018-2019 

  • Jews and Comedy  Hoffman