Topics

Topics

  • Holocaust Life Stories

    HolocaustmemoryTOPICS COURSE - 1.5 credits

    This 1.5-credit course examines different ways that Holocaust survivors have told their life stories, or have had their stories told by others, in various media, from the immediate postwar years to the early 21st century.  Examples include works of visual art, film, graphic novel, and video.

    If you have any questions about the course, please contact Prof. Shandler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Note: This course is not open to senior citizen auditors.

  • Holocaust Memory

    HolocaustmemoryTOPICS COURSE - 1.5 credits

    This course examines different ways that the Holocaust has been recalled, from the immediate postwar years to the present, in film, television, visual art, audio and video recordings, monuments, and museums.

    If you have any questions about the course, please contact Prof. Shandler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Note: This course is not open to senior citizen auditors.

  • Jewish Historical Fiction

    The World To Come by Dara HornTOPICS COURSE - 1.5 credits

    This course will explore the genre of Jewish historical fiction and its relationship to the historical periods the novels purport to represent, starting from the medieval period and continuing into contemporary times. The course will investigate the differences and similarities between two kinds of writing: historical and fictional narrative. Readings will include primary and secondary historical sources, as well as several novels. Topics to be covered include: Medieval Jewish life--particularly marriage, sexuality, and economics; mysticism and heretical Sabbatianism; revolution and art in the Soviet Union.

  • Jewish Museums

    polish-jewish-museum-213pxTOPICS COURSE - 3 credits

    This interdisciplinary honors seminar looks at Jewish museums as a case study of the prominent role that museums play in the public culture of ethnic and religious minority communities. 

    Though they have only been around for a little more than a century, Jewish museums have become strategic sites for Jews to present their history and culture to a larger public.  The seminar will begin with background on the history of private collecting, temporary exhibitions, and the advent of museums as public institutions, positioning Jewish museums within this larger history.  The seminar will then examine different kinds of Jewish museums around the world, including art museums, regional history museums, Holocaust museums, and multicultural museums in which Jews figure alongside other peoples. Studying Jewish museums engages a lively intersection of interests:  public history, art, architecture, media, urban studies, ethnic studies, modern culture, and memory practices.  Our examination of Jewish museums will consider what they reveal about how modern public culture engages issues of history, aesthetics, religion, ethnicity, and politics. 

    As part of the seminar, students will visit several museums in New York City and meet with people working in these museums. Over the course of the semester, students will be asked to take turns leading class discussions of different museums.  Each student will also prepare a curatorial project on a topic of her/his choosing, in consultation with the professor, and will present this work to the class at the conclusion of the seminar. 

    Note:  This seminar does not require any prior experience in Jewish studies.  Students should plan on being available for two Sunday visits to museums in New York City during the semester. These visits will be scheduled in lieu of regular class sessions (dates to be determined).

    Open to Honors Students or by Special Permission.  
    Please contact Professor Shandler.

  • Jews and Medicine

    JewsandMedicineTOPICS COURSE - 1.5 credits

    Course Description: This course will thematically explore the engagement of Jews with medicine, public health, and bioethics. Over the course of the semester we will look at the ways that Jews imagined health, illness, and the body, as well as the way that non-Jews imagined the Jewish body and health. Of particular interest are those moments and places where ideas of Jewishness, and Judaism are relevant to the question of medicine, conceptualizations of health and wellness, nutrition, and the idea of the Jewish body.

    Some of the topics to be explored are Jewish folk medicine, Jewish involvement in tenement reform, race science, and Jewish responses to bioethics questions such as abortion and euthanasia.

  • Jews, Gender, and Sexuality

    15TOPICS COURSE - 3 credits
    (cross-listed with 01:840:394)

    Does God have a body? If so, is it feminine or masculine? How do our sexual lives influence our understanding of God? What does the Zionist movement think about the Image of the Jewish Male Body? How does Israeli cinema influence the image of the Israeli soldier? What do different Jewish sects think about Queer life, and do they perceive modesty in Jewish life?

    Students will enrich their understanding of both gender theories and sexual theories. They will learn about perceptions of the body and sexuality in Western societies in comparison to those in Eastern societies, gaining a deeper understanding of the key differences. Finally, they will gain the basic tools necessary to explore different Jewish texts and literature from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, and Mystical (Hasidic) texts to Modern Israeli Poetry, literature and Cinema.

  • Lower East Side, Then and Now (Honors Seminar)

    OrchardStTOPICS COURSE - Honors Course

    New York’s Lower East Side may be the most studied and storied neighborhood in America. Since its emergence as the city’s most densely populated immigrant neighborhood in the mid-19th century, the Lower East Side has been the subject of extensive scrutiny by journalists, reformers, photographers, urban planners, and of creative engagements by visual artists, poets, novelists, and filmmakers. Over the past century and a half the Lower East Side has witnessed waves of demographic shifts and changes to its infrastructure, and its image has been transformed from a locus of poverty, crime, and social turmoil to a site of American heritage tourism and urban gentrification. This seminar will trace the neighborhood’s trajectory through an interdisciplinary approach to an array of materials, including a field visit to the neighborhood.

  • Modern Jewish Politics

    TOPICS COURSE - 1.5 creditsModern Jewish Politics

    This mini-course will examine the political relationship of the Jewish community to the gentile authorities among whom they lived (and live), to the internal authority structures within the Jewish community, and to the modern Jewish state. We will examine how Jews rebelled against and accommodated to structures of power in varying historical contexts. Topics to be discussed include: The Birth of Modern Jewish Politics; The Russian State and the Jews (conscription, revolution, and liberalism); Communism and Socialism in the Interwar Years; Jewish Liberalism and its Discontents; Zionist Empowerment; and the challenge of the Holocaust. Primary and secondary sources, as well as fiction, poetry and films, will be used.

    No prerequisites. 

  • Spanish Jews: History and Culture

    TOPICS COURSE - 3 creditsSephardi(HYBRID Course)

    This course will explore the history, religion, and culture of Spanish and Portuguese Jews from the medieval period to the present.  Following the development of mercantile networks and colonial expansion we will examine the development of Spanish Jewish community and identity in Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Our study will include a survey of key events and figures, and topics such as diaspora, economics, social networks, and religious identity.

  • Zionist Idea

    ZionismTOPICS COURSE - 1.5 credits

    No movement in modern Jewish history has had a greater impact on Jewish life than Zionism. This course examines the origins of Zionism in the mid-19th century and traces its development to the present day. Topics addressed include Zionism's political and social contexts, how other ideologies shaped Zionism, critics of Zionism, and the effect of Zionism on Jews' relationship to each other and to their surrounding societies.