Current Courses

Course Offerings

As always, check BUonline for the latest updates and the Harpur Bulletin for course descriptions and details.   

  SPRING 2021


Survey of American Jewish Literature - JUST 140 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: COLI 180R / ENG 280I
Time: T 4:25-7:25
Instructor: C. 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 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Dina Danon
This course surveys the major historical developments encountered by Jewish communities beginning with the Spanish Expulsion in 1492 up until the present day. We will first explore the features of the “early modern” period, such as mercantilism and large-scale demographic shifts, and chart the ways in which they transformed the traditional position of the Jew in society. We will then shift to the modern period, which saw a dramatic reordering of political, social, economic, and cultural life. We will study the various ways in which Jews across the world engaged with emerging notions of nationality, equality, and citizenship, as well as with new ideologies such as liberalism, socialism, nationalism, imperialism and antisemitism.  We will examine differing patterns of acculturation and assimilation, as Jews adopted numerous ways to negotiate the tension between the “particular” and the “universal.” By focusing both on European Jewry as well as the Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa, we will chart not one all-encompassing model of Jewish modernity, but a more complex story that unfolded from Marrakesh to Berlin, from Istanbul to Vilna and beyond.

Jewish Non-Profit Organizations- JUST 259 - Gen Ed: J
Cross listed: HDEV 259
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Barbara Goldman-Wartell
The Jewish Non-Profit Organizations course will look at the organizations and systems that make up the Jewish community in the United States. The goal of the course is to deconstruct the concept of community and to understand how institutions fulfill the purposes of community. We will introduce the course by learning about the history of the Jewish community and Jewish communal institutions in the U.S. and how they came to create the landscape of organizations that exist today. We will also use different tools for analyzing organizations and how they function. The main part of the course will explore the rich, diverse and complex landscape of Jewish communal organizations that exist today. We will cover many types of organizations, some emerging organizations and how they fit into the landscape of the Jewish Non-Profit world.

Jewish American Novel - JUST 310 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: COLI 381N / ENG 300Z
Time: W 4:40-7:40
Instructor: C. Beth Burch
In 1977, critic of Jewish culture Irving Howe lamented what he feared was the end of American Jewish literature: “What,” he worried, “is the likely future of American Jewish writing? Can we expect a new generation of writers to appear who will contribute to American literature a distinctive sensibility and style derived from the Jewish experience in this country?” We address that question by reading Jewish American novels from early immigration through the golden era of Jewish American literature (1960s and 1970s) to present day. Reading- and writing-intensive: ten novels, in-class close readings/writings, two papers.

Faith and Reason - JUST 311 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: PHIL 311 / RELG 380B
Time: T/R 10:05 - 11:30
Instructor: Randy Friedman
This reading-intensive seminar will explore the roles of reason and experience in theology and philosophy of religion.  What is the relationship between religious belief and rationality?  Is faith based in experience or reason?  Topics will include the nature of religious subjectivity, divinity, prophecy, the supernatural, creation, revelation, and religious experience.  We will work through a number of central figures and texts in the various traditions of philosophy of religion, focusing on Maimonides, Spinoza, and Kant as well as Leo Strauss.

Sephardi Diasporas - JUST 332 - Gen Ed: G, N
Cross listed: HIST 381L / ARAB 384D
Time: T/R 2:50 - 4:15
Instructor: Dina Danon
Charts emergence of the western and eastern Sephardi diasporas in the wake of the Expulsion of 1492. Topics covered include settlement in port cities, involvement in Mediterranean and Atlantic mercantile networks, the converso experience, mass migration to Ottoman lands, encounter with Islam, the rise of Ladino, the impact of westernization, the rise of nationalism and 21st century Sephardi communities. 

Post Holocaust Lit - JUST 343 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: ISRL 386K / COLI 331F / ENG 380E
Time: T 4:25 - 7:25
Instructor: PW 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.

The Holocaust - JUST 345 - Gen Ed: N, W
Cross listed: YIDD 345 / GERM 380G / GMAP 381A / HIST 345A
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
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. 

Jews & Christians in Conflict - JUST 363 - Gen Ed:  H
Cross listed: HIST 381Q / RELG 380D
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Jonathan Karp
For Centuries, Christians and Jews have argued over which group possesses the one true faith. This course surveys the shifting grounds of the debate from Antiquity to the present. Topics include: the emergence of early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism; the image of the Jew in medieval Christian literature and of the Gentile in Jewish law and Kabbalah; the decimation of Jewish communities during the Crusades; and the formal disputations between Jewish and Christian scholars. We conclude with a discussion of efforts in the wake of the Holocaust to achieve a degree of rapprochement between the faiths. 4 credits. Pre-requisite: The course does not require specific background knowledge, but does demand the necessary intellectual maturity to read difficult historical primary texts (in English), often of a complex philosophical and theological nature.

German Jews - JUST 368 - Gen Ed:  H, W
Cross listed: ISRL 380C / HIST 381Z / GERM 380D
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Allan Arkush
This course will examine the lives of representative German Jews from the middle of the 18th century to the beginning of the Nazi era. It will focus on these individuals? relationship to Judaism and Jewish life and the changing German world in which they lived. Among the figures studied will be philosophers (Moses Mendelssohn), politicians (Gabriel Riesser and Walter Rathenau), rabbis (Leo Baeck), and feminists (Bertha Pappenheim). Selected Topics: the fight for Jewish civil rights in the 19th century, the reception of Jews in the German public sphere, responses to anti-Semitism, new philosophies of Judaism. 

Religious Harmony in Islamic Spain - JUST 380G - Gen Ed: G , H , W
Cross listed: AFST 370 / MDVL 382H / WGSS 383B
Time: T/R 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.

American Jews 1776-1945 - JUST 384A - Gen Ed: W
Cross listed: ISRL 380A / HIST 380G
Time: W 5:50-8:50
Instructor: Allan Arkush
This course will examine the religious, social, cultural and political evolution of the American Jewish community from the establishment of the United States to the end of World War II. Topics include: mass immigration, religious diversification, confrontations with antisemitism and the role of America’s Jews in America’s wars.
Vienna 1900: Modernism & End - JUST 384D - Gen Ed: A, H, W
Cross listed: ARTH 387B / COLI 381Q / GERM 380V / HIST 381U
Time: M/W 3:30-4:55
Instructor: Neil Pages
Course explores the ideas, impulses and implosions that accompanied the rise of Modernism in Vienna around 1900. Like the multicultural, multi-ethnic empire of which it was the capital, the culture of Habsburg Vienna at the fin de siècle was marked by fragmentation, experimentation and contestation. Struggles with politics, identities and aesthetics generated new ways of thinking (Freudian psychoanalysis), political movements (Zionism; Marxism; fascism), radical experiments with art and architecture (Klimt, Schiele, Loos, Bauer, Schönberg) and a lasting literary legacy (Schnitzler, Musil, von Hofmannsthal, Trakl, Roth, Kraus, Zweig). By engaging specific works (buildings, paintings, texts) across disciplines, students will develop skills in reading and interpretation and gain an understanding of the cultural history of “Vienna 1900” specifically and theories of Modernism generally. We will also question how eras and cultural legacies are constructed and how cultures of memory are reflected in works of art, in historiography and in literary works.

Middle East Refugee Crisis - JUST 384E - Gen Ed: N , W
Cross listed: ARAB 386C / HIST 385R / HMRT 380A
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Kent Schull
Currently there are over 10 million refugees and displaced persons from Syria, Iraq, and Libya in surrounding countries. This is just a part of over 70 million refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide representing the greatest forced migration crisis since World War II. This course investigates the current refugee crisis in the Middle East including its origins, development, implications for, and effects on those involved and the world around it. Not only does this course look at the historical background of the crisis, but also the efforts and challenges associated with dealing with so many people displaced by war, civil unrest, persecution, and economic ruin. This crisis not only severely affects the Middle East, but also Europe, North America, and the entire world as state, international, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cooperate, compete, and fight over what ought to be done. This course also investigates issues of human rights, international law, humanitarian aid, immigration, what it means to be a refugee, public health and security concerns, and efforts facilitating and hindering aid. Students are assessed through participation in class discussion, a midterm essay exam, and a research paper.

Archaeology of The Middle East - JUST 386B
Cross listed: ANTH 374
Time: T/R | 04:25 - 05:50
Instructor: Lubna Omar
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: ISRL 385B / COLI 480T / ENG 450J
Time: W 4:40-7:40
Instructor: PW 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. 

Jews & Blacks in US Culture - JUST 485A
Cross listed: HIST 480K / HIST 540H
Time: R 6:00-9:00
Instructor: Jonathan Karp
This course attempts to go beyond standard treatments of the topic that emphasize the history of political alliances and antagonisms between Jews and African Americans. It focuses instead on spheres of cultural confluence and conflict, such as religion, music, literature, and film, set against a backdrop of shifting ideologies. A major function of the course will be to distinguish between the very different historical experiences of Blacks and Jews in America, while at the same time analyzing the various ways in which the two groups have sometimes expressed a sense of shared experience and identity. We will address the distinctions between cultural influence and imitation, literary depiction and distortion, economic collaboration and exploitation. But our ultimate aim will be to try to grasp how, despite the ongoing history of racism in the U.S., the interaction of groups like Blacks and Jews has helped continuously to reshape the broader contours of American cultural life.


Israeli Culture Through Film - ISRL 125 - Gen Ed: N
Cross listed: JUST 125 / CINE 180A 
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Assaf Harel
This course will use film as a primary means of exploring and experiencing the rich, complex and sometimes contradictory dynamics of Israeli culture. Through critical use of films and texts, we will examine major issues of Israeli cultural life such as migration, ethnic diversity, war and conflict, religion, gender and nationalism. This course will therefore enable students to expand their knowledge and deepen their understandings of both film and Israeli culture.

Mapping the Modern Middle East - ISRL 258 – Gen EdG
Cross listed: JUST 258
Time: M/W/F 2:20-3:20
Instructor: Shay Rabineau
This course is a history of modern efforts to map the Middle East, covering topics including: pre-modern maps created by the Ottomans and others; Napoleon?s mapping of Egypt and Palestine at the end of the 19th century; religious maps; surveys conducted by American and European Christians; maps created for commercial and colonial interests; conflicts between modern mapping/land ownership regimes and nomadic tribal boundaries; and contemporary/open-source maps. Israel/Palestine/Holy Land is a major geographic area of focus, but the course also explores the wider Middle East and North Africa.

Religion and Faith in Israel - ISRL 370 - Gen Ed: C, N
Cross listed: JUST 384G / RELG 380G
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Assaf Harel
This course examines religion in Israel from an ethnographic perspective. That is, it centers on knowledge that emerges from real-life encounters and experiences. Accordingly, we will engage with ethnographic works as a way of gaining a deeper understanding of the diversity of Israeli religious realities. The course will cover topics such as Religious Zionism, Ultra Orthodoxy, fundamentalism, Christian pilgrimage, Islamic and Jewish revival, New Age and more. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and at least one ISRL/JUST introductory course.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - ISRL 385Z – Gen Eds G, N
Cross listed: JUST 380P / ARAB 385C / HIST 385J
Time: M/W/F 10:50 - 11:50
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.  


Religions of the World - RELG 101 - Gen Ed: G, H
Cross listed: JUST 100 / AFST 180E / ANTH 180C
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
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: H, W
Cross listed: AFST171 / ANTH 280L / SOC 180C
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Anthony S Ephirim-Donkor
E. A. 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 peoples] ... are those which are the most pleasing to heaven.” Following these statements, students are introduced to the nature and phenomenon of African religion, and why contemporary generations still adhere to the religious beliefs of their ancestors. Specifically, the course offers an overview of the history of religion as a discipline, then explores African conceptions of God and gods, eldership, death and ancestors, sacrifices, and rituals and symbolic meanings of African religion.

Afro-Braz & Carib Religions - RELG 280B - Gen Ed: W
Cross listed: AFST 203 / ANTH 280T / SOC 280F
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Anthony S Ephirim-Donkor
In a journey more than geographic, Africans in the New World lost all outward expressions of their religions. Yet, African religions survived to help create syncretistic religious traditions for descendants of Africans in the New World. How was that possible? For answers, the course looks at the nature of African religions, influence of non-African religions and culture on African descended peoples, and examination of Candomble, Voodoo, Obeah, and Rastafari.

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.

Bible and Its Interpretations - RELG 361 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: JUST 361
Time: T/R 2:50-4:15
Instructor: Douglas Jones
This course takes a comparative approach to the history of biblical interpretation by looking at diverse communities within the Jewish and Christian traditions. How have these communities used the Bible to understand their place in history, address present tribulations, and even predict the future? What major conflicts have arisen over the issue of interpretation? Some topics include the theme of movement in the Torah and rabbinical tradition, 18th and 19th century biblical scholarship, the meaning of allegory in Catholic and Protestant interpretation, and the so-called literal sense of scripture. We will also close by considering the issue of biblical interpretation as it relates to new religious movements in America.

Russian Christianity - RELG 380F - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: RUSS 380A / HIST 381P
Time: M/W/F 12:00-1:00
Instructor: Sidney Dement
This course examines Russian Christianity from multiple perspectives (history, culture, religious studies, literature, contemporary activism) to provide an introduction to Christianity in Russia and the many ways that it has shaped and continues to shape Russian society. In addition to reading primary literary, religious, and philosophical texts, students also explore scholarly analyses of how Christianity has intersected with the many other religious traditions historically practiced by people in Russia.


Hebrew II - HEBR 102 - Gen Ed: FL2
Time: M/T/W/R 9:40-10:40
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 1:10-2:10
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
Cross listed: JUST 180
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.) 

Yiddish III - YIDD 203 - Gen Ed: FL3
Cross listed: JUST 280
Time: M/W/F 1:10-2:10
Instructor: Gina Glasman
An intermediate level language class. Students will build upon the foundation of introductory Yiddish (101-102) to deepen their understanding of conversational and literary Yiddish. Idiomatic speech and Yiddish syntax will provide a particular focus of class. Song, poetry and prose will again supplement our study, as students continue to enrich their knowledge of Yiddish language and culture.  Yiddish 102 is required or with permission from the instructor.