Current Courses

Course Offerings

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



Survey of American Jewish Literature - JUST 140 - Gen Ed: C, H

Cross listed: COLI 180R / ENG 280I
Time: W 4:40-7:40
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.

Philosophy of History: Past To Present - JUST 281A - Gen Ed: W (Mini 2cr-course)

Time: 2nd half of semester, W 6:10-9:10
Instructor: Michael Kelly
We have seen a host of recent books by historians and philosophers declaring this or that about History, from celebrations of its end to proclamations about its rebirth, and everything else in between. Such contemporary interest in History has not only been academic. In the media it is easy to find regular claims that readers/viewers are “witnessing” history, and the U.S. Congress has even passed a bill stating its official definition of History. Despite all of this activity, what we have not witnessed are many serious, critical attempts to reconsider and re-engage the fundamental question: “what is History?” This is what we will do in this course.

Jewish American Novel - JUST 310 - Gen Ed: C, H

Cross listed: COLI 381N / ENG 300Z
Time: M 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 1:15-2:40
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.

The Holocaust - JUST 345 - Gen Ed: N, W

Cross listed: 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. 

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.

Vienna 1900: Modernism & End - JUST 384D - Gen Ed: A, H

Cross listed: COLI 381Q / GERM 380V
Time: M/W | 4:40-6:05
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.

Jews, Family & Sex in Early Modern World – JUST 384E

Cross listed: HIST 385L / MDLV 380O
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Jonathan Karp
This course surveys the entirety of the early modern Jewish world, particularly Christian Europe and the Ottoman Mediterranean and Middle East, discussing the family as an institution within Jewish law, the promulgation of sexual norms and deviations from them, and the institutions of marriage and child rearing, as viewed within the framework of gender and patriarchy. We will consider the perception of continuity in Jewish family structures over long periods of time as measured against the palpable influence of the institutions and practices of the non-Jewish communities among which Jews lived. We will also look at the impact of kabbalah, aestheticism, and messianic movements on sexual practices. The course will utilize rabbinic legal literature, including responsa, ethical musar texts, mystical writings, and the handful of surviving memoirs, among other sources. No previous knowledge of Jewish history is assumed or required. 

Shoah Literature: Sacred Memory - JUST 385B - Gen Ed: H, O

Cross listed: COLI 381S /ENG 450U
Time: T 4:25-7:25
Instructor:  PW Burch
As the Shoah survivor generation disappears, two major impulses in Holocaust representation have manifested themselves. First was the emergence of the Second Generation, those whom Alan Berger terms “The Children of Job.” Second-Generation literature of the Holocaust concerns itself largely with inter-generational issues, theological questions, and bearing witness for the witnesses. We are now in the midst of a second major reorientation, writings by the Third generation. While resisting a complete self-definition, the works of the “Grandchildren of Job” reflect an inheritance of trauma which leaves them, in the words of Henri Raczymow, with a “memory shot through with holes.” Unlike the daughters and sons of survivors, the grandchildren typically have no direct experience of the survivors. Rather they have heard stories or seen photos. Raczymow articulates the dilemma: “I was rich in keepsakes, he writes,” but had no memories to go with them.”
Third-Generation writings embrace a variety of genres, each of which portrays a distinctive angle of vision as respective authors work through their traumatic legacy. Unlike the Second Generation writing, the works of the grandchildren of survivors are more culturally diffuse and tend to be suffused with postmodernist concerns. Nevertheless, the shape-shifting shadows of the Holocaust continue to impact the identity of this generation. We will be reading works written by Second and Third Generation writers including Alain Finkielkraut, Barbara Finkelstein, Henri Raczymow, Art Spiegelman, Thane Rosenbaum,  Joseph Skibell, Melvin Jules Bukiet , Daniel Mendelsohn, Aryeh Lev Stollman, and others.

Archaeology of The Middle East - JUST 386B

Cross listed: ANTH 374
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
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: 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. 

Religion and the Enlightenment – JUST 484C - Gen Ed: C, N

Cross listed: HIST 484Q
Time: M 3:30-6:30
Instructor: Jonathan Karp
This course has two major aims: first, to investigate various approaches to religious questions found in eighteenth-century Enlightenment literature, and second, to survey important religious currents that developed contemporaneously with the Enlightenment, such as Jansenism, Pietism, Methodism, and Hasidism. We will analyze the conceptual and historical relationship between Enlightenment thought and religious revival in this period, and ask whether the relationship between the two trends was as much complementary as contradictory.


Religions of the World - RELG 101- Gen Ed: G, H
Cross listed: JUST 100 / AFST180E / 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.


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.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Literature - ISRL 327 - Gen Ed: H, O

Cross listed: JUST 380A / COLI 331V
Time: W 4:40 - 7:40
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.

Israeli Social Movements - ISRL 385A – Gen Ed: N

Cross listed: SOC 380D
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
Instructor: Benita Roth
In this course, we will be look at social movements in and around Israel in comparative fashion. We have three goals in this class: 1) to learn more what social movements are, and how they dovetail with institutionally based political processes, that is, how social movements are a kind of politics by other means; 2) to understand more about how social movements have operated in pre-state Israel, post-state Israel and in the current moment; and 3) to understand Israeli social movements in comparative perspective by looking at other regions, and across time, in order to compare movements with similar goals.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - ISRL 385Z – Gen Eds G, N

Cross listed: JUST 380P /ARAB 385C / HIST 385J
Time: M/W/F 1:10-2:10
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. 

Religion and Faith in Israel - ISRL 386K - 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.

Environmental History of Israel – ISRL 427- Gen Ed: G, N

Cross listed: JUST 427 / ENVI 481N 
Time: M/W/F 2:20-3:20
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

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.