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Course Offerings

As always, check BUonline for the latest updates and the Harpur Bulletin for course descriptions and details.
Download the JUST Academic Planning Chart here (pdf, 320KB)

 Spring 2019 


Survey of American Jewish Literature - JUST 140 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: ENG 280I / COLI 180R
Time: W 4:40-7:40
Instructor: Connie Beth Burch
Through the Golden Door: Survey of American Jewish Literature: This course traces through literature the realities and challenges of being Jewish in America from after the Civil War to the present. We will read in all genres, exploring topics such as the immigrant experience, acculturation and assimilation, anti-Semitism, generational conflicts and differences, gender issues, and continuing themes in the body of work. Quizzes, short pieces of writing, mid-term examination, and final examination.

Jewish History 1500 to Modern - JUST 202 - Gen Ed: G
Cross listed: RELG 280C / HIST 285E
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Allan Arkush
The second half of the survey course on Jewish history can be taken independently and requires no previous background. It covers the tumultuous period from the 1492 expulsion of the Jews from Spain to the creation of the modern State of Israel. Topics covered include Jewish messianic movements, emancipation, the rise of American Jewry, and the Holocaust.

Post Holocaust Literature - JUST 343 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: COLI 331F / ENG 380E
Time: T 4:25-7:25
Instructor: Paul Burch
This course addresses primarily fiction and memoir written after the Holocaust by second- and third-generation descendants of survivors of the Shoah. Central to our reading will be issues of representation, authenticity, the role of memory, the problems and limits of language, questions of trauma, the phenomenon of post-memory, and the development of post-Holocaust Jewish identities. Note: Not appropriate for first-year students.

Renaissance & Early Modern Jewish History – JUST 344 - Gen Ed: N, W
Cross listed: HIST 381K
Time: TR 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Jonathan Karp
Beginning at the close of the 15th century and ending on the cusp of the 18th, our course tells the story of an in-between age that contains the dramatic movement of Jews across Europe and the Mediterranean basin, the ghettoization of some communities, the opening up of others, the rise of new ideas, new economic relationships, of messianic fever and humanistic thought. This course will have a global flavour as we seek to define a key chapter in the history of both Eastern and Western Jewry.

The Holocaust - JUST 345A - Gen Ed: H, W
Cross listed: HIST 345A / GERM 380G / GMAP381A
Time: TR 4:25-5:50
Instructor: Gina Glasman
The Holocaust: A Victims' History How did the Jews of Europe respond to German occupation and its machinery of death during the Second World War? Our class will explore an answer to this question by seeking to reconstruct a history of the Holocaust through the voices of its victims. We will examine various forms of contemporary testimony including diaries and the spoken word. Works of history, as well as documentary cinema, will also frame our conversation about chronicling the effects of Nazi genocide through the surviving record of the murdered and the dead.

Modern Yiddish Culture - JUST 354 - Gen Ed: H, J
Cross listed: YIDD 354 /GERM 380K
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
Instructor: Gina Glasman
In the half century before the Second World War, a Yiddish ­speaking "Jewish Street" stretched from Buenos Aires to Boston, from London to Lodz, with many cities in between. What characterized the culture of this mostly urban and modernizing society is the subject of this class. Cinema and short stories, poetry and politics provide our vehicle to explore the world of Eastern European Jewry in a time of radical transformation and approaching catastrophe (all material is in English). Note: If a student has already taken a 200-level version of Modern Yiddish Culture they will not receive credit for this course.

At Home in the Diaspora - JUST 375 - Gen Ed: W
Cross listed: RELG 380F / ISRL 380C / HIST 385N
Time: W 5:50-8:50
Instructor: Allan Arkush
This course will trace the emergence of positive attitudes toward the worldwide dispersion of the Jews from the 19th century to the present. It will examine the rejection of the idea that Jews living outside of Palestine are by definition in Exile, the diverse ideologies of the proponents of diaspora nationalism, the diasporists' critique of Zionism and their involvement in the establishment of alternative Jewish homelands – both in fact and in fiction.

The Origins and Impact of Hasidism – JUST 380C - Gen Ed: C, W
Cross listed: RELG 280B / HIST 381V
Time: M 1:40-4:40
Instructor: Jonathan Karp
Hasidism was one of the great spiritual movements in Jewish history-- as well as one of the most controversial. This course explores both the rise of Hasidism in the middle of eighteenth century and the extraordinary impact it exerted on the Jewish world and beyond. We analyze the latest scholarly theories surrounding the movement's inception in Poland and rapid conquest of the East European Jewish masses. We trace different forms of opposition to Hasidism, both among traditionalists and modernizers. Finally, we survey the many ways in which Hasidism inspired new approaches to Jewish literature, music and culture in Europe, Israel, and the United States. No previous knowledge of Jewish History is assumed.

Religious Harmony in Islamic Spain - JUST 380G - Gen Ed: G, H, W
Cross listed: AFST 370/ARAB 386C/MDVL 382H/WGSS 380F
Time: TR 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Moulay Ali Bouanani
This course acquaints students with the contribution of Muslims, Christians and Jews to Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain & Portugal), from the eighth century to the 1400's. In the Islamic far west, Andalusian society was different from what existed in the Arabic-Islamic East and far more developed and sophisticated than any civilization Europe had known. During this time period, Al-Andalus was the most materially advanced area of Europe. Ethnic (Arabs, Iberians, North Africans) and religious minorities such as Christian Muwallads and Mozarabs enjoyed a high degree of tolerance and, like the Jews, formed prosperous and erudite communities. Women were, with the exception of those of Baghdad, the envy of even other Arabic-Muslim women. Cordoba was the most splendid city on the European continent with magnificent buildings, gardens, libraries, baths. There was a stable political system that facilitated opulence, education, beautiful homes, well-designed cities and towns, art and scholarship. This course will examine the civilization and culture of Islamic Spain and the contribution of each of the religious groups to its greatness.

Archaeology of the Middle East - JUST 386B - Gen Ed: W
Cross listed: ANTH 374 / CLAS 381U
Time: M/W/F 9:40 – 10:40
Instructor: Michael Sugerman
We will explore the cultures of Israel, Palestine, and neighboring regions, from the earliest human presence in the area through the rise of Islam. We will study the first people, the earliest villagers, and the urban societies of the Bronze Age and Iron Age (the "Biblical period"). We will also investigate the incorporation of the region into a series of empires: Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and Islamic. We will also discuss the history of archaeological research in Israel and Palestine during the 19th and 20th-centuries, and the politics of archaeology in the region today.

Holocaust Fiction - JUST 441 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: ENG 450J / COLI 480T
Time: W 4:40-7:40
Instructor: Paul Burch
Issues of memory, representation, and voice are addressed in the reading of Holocaust fiction. The class reads through the prism of the literature of witness novels and short stories—most by Holocaust survivors—including works by Appelfeld, Fink, Borowski, Grynberg, Lustig, Nomberg- Przytyk, Rawicz, Kosinski, and Wiesel. Several short papers, mid-term examination, and final examination are required. Accompanied by a speaker/lecture series. Notes: prerequisite, sophomore standing; not appropriate for first-year students. Required texts may include: Lawrence Langer, Art from the Ashes (Anthology), Piotr Rawicz, Blood from the Sky, Jerzy Kosiński, The Painted Bird, Elie Wiesel, Gates of the Forest, Hans Keilson, The Death of the Adversary, David Grossman, See Under: Love, André Schwarz-Bart, The Last of the Just.


The Bible in Arabic - JUST 480E
Cross listed: COLI 482A / COLI 580T
Time: TR 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Tarek Shamma
In this course we will examine the long history of the Jewish and Christian Bibles in the Arabic language. Moving from early efforts in pre-Islamic Arabia, we will focus on major periods of translation and reception in the Classical age of the Islamic empire, down to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will look at the various Arabic versions of the Bible in their historical contexts, exploring their functions in Arabic-speaking Christian and Jewish communities, as well as in their wider cultural and linguistic context/ in the Muslim world. Conceptions of the Bible (as mediated through translations of various kinds) were an important part, not only of the religious life of Arab Christians and Jews, but also in the intellectual life of the in the Muslim world at large. This latter aspect will be the focus of this course, as we examine how the Bible figured in religious apologetics (especially between Muslims and Christians), and more importantly how it was instrumental in formulating philosophical, theological, as well as social and political positions among intellectuals of all faiths. We will see, for example, how Christian and Jewish intellectuals employed the translation and interpretation of the Bible to negotiate their position within the larger Islamic sociopolitical context, and sometimes in relation to other denominations within their own communities. The course will rely mainly on secondary sources in English, so knowledge of Arabic or Biblical languages is not required.


Religions of the World - RELG 101 - Gen Ed: G, H
Cross listed: JUST 180B
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Douglas Jones
What does it mean to study various religions from an academic perspective? How do we, as outsiders at a public university, discuss different traditions responsibly? Answering questions like these and developing our skills as scholars of religion is of no small importance in an increasingly global society. This class will take a thematic approach to a number of traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Prominent themes include the history of Religious Studies as a discipline, religion and popular culture, religion and violence, the history of utopian thought, and the status of new and controversial movements across the globe.

Intro to African Religion - RELG 180D - Gen Ed: G, H
Cross listed: AFST 171 / ANTH 280L / SOC 180C
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Anthony Ephirim-Donkor
E. Wallis Budge defined African religion as "the worship of the souls of the dead, commonly called Ancestor Worship." Also Diodorus, a Greek historian, wrote over 2,000 years ago that blacks were "the first to be taught to honor the gods and to hold sacrifices and processions and festivals and other rites by which men honor the deity; and ... sacrifices practiced among the Ethiopians [black people] ... are those which are the most pleasing to heaven." From ancient Egypt-Nubia to the Yoruba and the Akan, students are introduced to the nature and phenomenon of African religion, cosmologies and conceptions of God and deities, ancestors and elders, witchcraft, sacrifices, and rituals and practices that order the lives of believers.

Radical Religious Movements – RELG 312 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: JUST 312
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Douglas Jones
This course focuses on movements that are deemed radical by their contemporaries. Topics will vary from week to week, though generally we will focus on the self-professed religious identity of these movements alongside their relationship with the broader religious culture. Do radical religions consider themselves radical? How do they communicate with, or seek to influence, the mainstream? Major themes include the proliferation of utopian and messianic movements in the seventeenth-century, socialism and religion, religion and violence, religion and suicide, the anti-cult movement in America, and the relatively recent appearance of sci-fi religions. Students who took RELG 212 course will not receive credit for 312.

Saints and Sinners - RELG 380D - Gen Ed: H
Cross listed: CLAS 381S / COLI 381E / MDVL 381L
Time: T/R 04:25-05:50
Instructor: Tina Chronopoulos
In this course we will study the lives of folks who lived during the Classical and Late Antique Periods in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean and who were considered by their contemporaries and later authors to have lead saintly or sinful lives, broadly conceived. Ultimately, we will try to arrive at an understanding of what saintliness and sinfulness meant in the time period under consideration (ca. 10 CE – 600CE) and how this was constructed, and which cultural and political forces were at work to make this so. Throughout, we will be trying to answer questions such as "What or who is a saint/sinner" and "who determines this status and who benefits from it?". We will examine the origins and development of this new genre of writing by considering its relationship to the novel and biography. We will read representative accounts of sinners and saints from Classical and Late Antiquity (e.g. in no particular order: Caligula, Perpetua & Felicity, Simeon Stylites, Mary of Egypt, Mary/Marinos, Messalina, Martin of Tours, Nero, Matrona of Perge, and others) to answer these questions and also examine whether the binary good/saint – sinner/bad holds true.



Israeli Coming-of-Age Narratives - ISRL 205 - Gen Ed: H, W
Cross listed: JUST 205, COLI 280F
Time: M/W/F 9:40-10:40
Instructor: Lior Libman
At the center of Coming-of-Age Narratives stands a protagonist in the process of becoming: a youngster being educated, learning about themselves, about the world, and about life, overcoming obstacles, maturing, forming their identity. In this class, we will explore the thematic and structural characteristics of such narratives, focusing on Israeli examples in their historical and cultural contexts. We will look at tensions between the individual and their society in the moral and psychological development of the protagonist, and will delve into questions of national affinities, class, gender and sexuality in their passage from childhood to adulthood. The course is an Area Course in Literature for the Minor in Israel Studies, a Literature Course for the Major/Minor in Hebrew, and an Area Course in Israel Studies for the Major/Minor in Judaic Studies.

Cultures and Society in Israel - ISRL 227 - Gen Ed: G, N
Cross listed: JUST 227 / RELG 280A
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Blake McCabe
This course is a study of the many religious, ethnic, political, and linguistic dimensions of modern Israeli culture and society. It examines the forces that affect them, the divides between them, their interactions with each other, and their manifestations in music, film, art, and literature. This course will also have a strong emphasis on the use of Jewish law in Israel, intermarriage, non-Orthodox conversion, and Jewish minority groups (such as the Falash Mura, Beni Menashe and Bnei Ephraim).

Israeli Palestinian Conflict in Literature - ISRL 327 - Gen Ed: H, O
Cross listed: JUST 380A / COLI 331V
Time: M/W/F 1:10-2:10
Instructor: Lior Libman
The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been represented in a wide body of Israeli and Palestinian literary works of varied genres. In this course, we will read, analyze and discuss, side by side, poems, short stories and novels by both Israeli and Palestinian writers exploring questions of homeland, exile and return, longing and belonging, Self and Other. We will examine the relationships between historical, political and literary narratives, and the ways in which images and metaphors both reflect and shape national affinities. We will also juxtapose the geo-political conflict with other core issues such as religion, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.

ISRL-PALS Conflict - ISRL 385Z - Gen Ed: G, N
Cross listed: JUST 380P /ARAB 385C / HIST 385J
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
Instructor: Shay Rabineau
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Israel-Palestine comprises the territory that lies between the Mediterranean Sea (on the west), Lebanon (in the north), the Gulf of Aqaba and the Sinai Peninsula (on the south) and the Jordan River (on the east). Although it covers a small geographic area and includes a relatively small population (compare present-day Israel's 8 million citizens with Egypt's 90 million), the dispute between the two rival sets of nationalisms which claim the sole right to control this territory has remained at the forefront of international attention for more than half a century. This course will examine the origins of the Arab-Israeli dispute from the mid-nineteenth century through the founding of the state of Israel and expulsion/flight of three quarters of a million Palestinians from their homes till the present day. Among the topics to be examined: the social history of Palestine up to Zionist colonization, the origins of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, varieties of Zionism, Zionism and colonialism, seminal events and their consequent symbolic connotations (the 1936 "Great Revolt," the 1948 "Nakba" [disaster]) and creation of the state of Israel, the construction of a national consensus in Israel, 1967 and its aftermath, the intifada, and the redefinition of the conflict as a result of Oslo, the second intifada, the security fence, HAMAS, Hizbollah and the Lebanon War.

Environmental History of Israel - ISRL 427 - Gen Ed: G, N
Cross listed: JUST 427 / ENVI 481N
Time: T/R 1:15 - 2:40
Instructor: Shay Rabineau
This course focuses the problems and possibilities associated with settling large numbers of people in the contested land of Israel-Palestine with its limited natural resources, and examines the dynamics between environmental issues, politics, technology, and military conflict in the modern Middle East.


Hebrew II - HEBR 102 - Gen Ed: FL2
Time: M/T/W/R 8:30 – 9:30
Instructor: Orly Shoer
Second semester of the communicative introduction to the language and its culture. Provides a thorough grounding in reading, writing, grammar, oral comprehension, and speaking.
Prerequisites: HEBR 101 with a grade of C- or equivalent or permission of instructor.

Intermediate Hebrew - HEBR 204 - Gen Ed: FL3
Time: M/W/F 9:40 – 10:40
Instructor: Orly Shoer
Intermediate-level language and culture course with emphasis on the reading of literary and non-literary texts, grammar and writing.
Prerequisite: HEBR 103 with a grade of C- or equivalent or permission of instructor.

Texts and Conversations II - HEBR 312 - Gen Ed: FL3
Time: M/W/F/ 10:50 – 11:50
Instructor: Orly Shoer
In this course students will advance their Hebrew language skills through reading, discussing and writing about a variety of short fiction and nonfiction texts and visual material. Writing practice and reviewing of grammar will be incorporated through the presented materials. Taught in Hebrew. Prerequisites: HEBR 204 with a grade of C- or equivalent or permission of instructor.

Yiddish II - YIDD 102 - Gen Ed: FL2
Time: M/W/F 10:50 – 11:50
Instructor: Gina Glasman
Follows on from Yiddish 101 as students sharpen their linguistic skills with more complex sentence structure, a deeper knowledge of tenses and cases, and a broader vocabulary. In addition, we explore Yiddish culture through film, stories, folk sayings and the occasional joke! As always lyrics from Yiddish popular song provide the backbone of the class, and individual attention is a feature of the instruction. Note: interested students can join 102 directly without having taken 101. (Instructor permission needed.)  

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Last Updated: 1/18/19