Fall 2018 Undergraduate Course Descriptions

JWST 199 Images of Jewish Identities

Jewish Literature 1789-1939:  From Emancipation to the Holocaust

Professor David Aberbach​
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This course introduces some of the major changes, both gradual and violent, in Jewish life from the French Revolution to the Holocaust, as reflected mainly in literature.     The chief aim of the course is the experience of reading texts on your own from a variety of countries and periods,  which can (and should) be read as independent works of art but are also part of one story, of Jewish reactions to emancipation and concomitant anti-Semitism, and their consequences.  

Emancipation of the European Jews in the late 18th and 19th centuries led to unprecedented Jewish assimilation in non-Jewish culture and to a transformation in the definition of Jewish identity.    Whereas some Jews reinforced their Jewishness, rediscovering their past and developing ideologies of Jewish survival in the diaspora or in the land of Israel, other Jews believed that Judaism had no future and that Jews were fated to assimilate and vanish among other Europeans.   Emancipation was largely successful in Central and Western Europe - until the late 19th century, when racial anti-Semitism emerged, setting Europe on a course leading to the Holocaust.   The failure of emancipation and, in the case of Tsarist Russia, the failure to achieve emancipation and civil rights, led to the rise of Zionism and the socialist and revolutionary movements, and ultimately to the Holocaust.

Texts: Readings vary, but the following outline gives an idea of some of the literature which comprises the course:

S.J. Agnon,  A Simple Story
Ansky, S., The Dybbuk
C.N. Bialik, poems
Isaac Babel, stories
Greenberg, poems
Heine, poems
Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Herzl, The Jewish State
Joyce, from Ulysses
Paul Johnson, History of the Jews
Franz Kafka, The Castle
Solomon Maimon, Autobiography
Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto
Proust, from Remembrance of Things Past
Henry Roth, Call It Sleep
Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March
Sholom Aleichem, the Tevye stories
I.B. Singer, Satan in Goray
Stefan Zweig, The Buried Candelabrum
Franz Werfel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh

Evaluation: Grades will be based on three essay exams to be written in class and  commentaries on course texts  (50%) and two long essays (50%). 

Format: Lecture

JWST 201 Introduction to Jewish Law

Professor Lawrence Kaplan​
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This course will examine the nature and history of Jewish Law. All course materials are in English, and are contained in the course pack, available at the McGill Book Store. While secondary material will be assigned for background, the focus will be on the close reading of selected Jewish legal texts from the Mishnah and Talmud as well as such post-Talmudic texts as Maimonides’ great code of Jewish Law, the Mishneh Torah, and a variety of both medieval and modern responsa (judicial opinions). Among the topics to be addressed are: Rabbinic and Communal Authority; Law, Religion, and Morality; Negligent Misrepresentation; Public Law and the Right to Strike, Imprisonment for Debt; and Artificial Insemination from Donor. A key goal will be to acquire a “feel” for characteristic modes of halakhic (Jewish legal) thinking and reasoning, precisely through immersing oneself in the primary sources. A special feature of this course will be its havruta style: that is, for part of some classes students will study and prepare the primary texts in havrutot (small groups) with the instructor serving as a resource person.

Texts: Coursepack

Evaluation: 

10%: Class Attendance and Participation
20%: Mid-Term
30%: Ten page analysis of primary text
​40%: Formal Three Hour Final

Format: Lecture

JWST 202 Intro to Jewish Music

Professor Liane Alitowski
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:

https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This course will provide a wide musical palette of eastern and western Jewish composers from the last 500 years. The historical narratives of Sephardim and Ashkenazim will be complemented with their respective musical genres and will be presented in two parts.

We will begin by discussing pivotal events in Sephardic history that will be accompanied with a guided listening of Sephardic Jewish music. Included are sacred Piyutim, secular Ladino song genres such as the Romancero and the Cantiga, and para-liturgical Coplas.

From the east we will then focus our attention to the west and explore the effects of the early Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) movement as heard in the liturgical music of composers Rossi and Modena in the early 17th century, as well as Sulzer and Lewandowski two centuries later. Selected Psalms and Nigunim will allow us to observe the diversity of settings for texted and wordless traditional melodies. Our investigation will continue with the cultural pressures of the 19th century that affected Halevy, Meyerbeer, Mendelssohn and Mahler. Bloch and Schoenberg, among other composers of the 20th century, will be included in our discussion of Zionist trends in art music as they responded to critical events affecting the Jewish world. Anti and philo-Semitic composers (Wagner and Shostakovich, respectively), will also be discussed as their influence, both detrimental and favorable, impacted the Jewish world from early to mid-20th century.

*Knowledge of music history, notation and/or theory is not a pre-requisite.

Texts: 

CONVIVENCIA:
Benjamin R. Gampel, “Jews, Christians and Muslims in Medieval Iberia: Convivencia through the Eyes of Sephardic Jews”

RELIGIOUS & SECULAR JEWISH POETRY:
Ibn Gabirol (1021-1058) & Yehuda Halevy (1075-1141)

RELIGIOUS & SECULAR JEWISH POETRY: Maimonides (1135-1204)
Emanuel Rubin and John H. Baron, “Jewish Music in the World of Medieval Islam”

JEWS IN ISLAMIC SPAIN: SEPHARDIC ROMANCERO
Susana Weich-Shahak, “The Performance of the Judeo-Spanish Repertoire”
Rina Benmayor, “Social Determinants in Poetic Transmission – The Sephardic Romancero”
Israel J. Katz, “The Musical Legacy of the Judeo-Spanish Romancero
Edwin Seroussi, “De-gendering Jewish music: the survival of the Judeo-Spanish folk song revisited”

PSALMS and their Influence:
Judah Cohen, “Whither Jewish Music?”
Abraham A. Schwadron, “On Jewish Music”
N. Herz Imber, “The Music of the Psalms (1894)”
Aron Marko Rothmüller, “The Psalms”

NIGUNIM:
​N. Herz Imber, “The Music of the Ghetto (1898)”
Pinchos Jassinowsky, “Hazzanim and Hazzanut (1920)”
Jewish Ethnomusicologist: A.Z. IDELSOHN
Israel Rabinovitch, “Idelsohn’s Achievement in the Investigation of the Jewish Folk Song”

ITALY:
Salamone ROSSI (1570-1630) Religious Works
Don Harran, “Salamone Rossi as a Composer of ‘Hebrew’ Music”
Salamone ROSSI (1570-1630) Secular Works
Don Harran, “Epilogue: From Conflict to Consonance”

HASKALAH: Ashkenazi Cantor/Liturgical composers
Tina Frühauf, “The reform of synagogue music in the nineteenth century”

HASKALAH: Salomon SULZER (1804-1890)
Jonathan L. Friedman, “Introduction: Sulzer, Idelsohn, and the Revival of Jewish Music”
Peter Gradenwitz, “Jewish Musicians in Renaissance Italy and Tudor England”

FRENCH GRAND OPERA:
Fromenthal HALEVY (1799-1862)
L. Scott Lerner, “Jewish Identity and French Opera, Stage and Politics, 1831-1860”
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
David Conway, “A New Song: Jewish musicians in European music, 1730-1850”

GERMANY:
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Jeffrey S. Sposato, “New Christians”
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Henry A. Lea, “The Eternal Jew”
K.M. Knittel, “Ein Hypermoderner Dirigent: Mahler and Anti-Semitism in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna”           

PHILO-SEMITIC COMPOSERS:
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998)
Joachim Braun, “On the Double Meaning of Jewish Elements in D. Shostakovich’s Music”

FLEEING FASCISM:
Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
Alexander Knapp, “The Jewishness of Bloch: Subconscious or Conscious?”
Peter Gradenwitz, “The Great Call - Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg”
​Ernest Bloch, “Ernest Bloch: Creative Spirit”

Evaluation: Grading will be based on reading and listening assignments (50%), a group oral (10%), and an open book + take-home essay exam (40%)

Format: Lecture

JWST 206 Intro to Yiddish Literature

Professor Yuri Vedenyapin​
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:

https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: A survey of Yiddish literature and culture with a particular focus on the modern period (the 1860s to the present). As we read major works of Yiddish literature (in English translation), we will discuss the main factors in its development, including its position as a minority literature, Ashkenazi civilization’s religious foundations and multilingualism, the rise of political movements, and the trauma of the Holocaust. We will pay close attention to issues of Jewish identity and the relations between Jews and their Christian neighbors in Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and other regions of Eastern Europe. In his Nobel lecture, Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer described Yiddish as “the idiom of the frightened and hopeful humanity.” We will explore both the reasons behind and the effects of such universalization of Yiddish language, literature, and culture. In addition to literary works, we will also explore films, music, historical documents, and oral history.

Texts:  The Memoirs of Glikl of Hameln, Bella Chagall, Burning Stars, Sholem Aleichem, Railroad Stories and Tevye the Dairyman; Isaac Bashevis Singer, Satan in Goray and In My Father’s Court, Chava Rosenfarb, Survivors, Sholem-Yankev Abramovitch (Mendele Mocher Seforim), The Travels of Benjamin the Third, I.L.Peretz, If Not Even Higher, Nahman of Bratslav, “The Wise Man and The Simple Man,” Miryem Ulinover, My Grandmother’s Treasure. 

Selected Films: The Dybbuk (1937), The Jester (1937), Tevye the Dairyman (1939), Green Fields, American Matchmaker (1940), Shoah (1985), Menashe (2017) Part 1: The Rise of Ashkenaz and Old Yiddish Literature Part 2: Yiddish as Women’s Language Part 3: The Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment), Hasidism, and the Hasidic Tale Part 4: The Myth and Reality of the Shtetl Part 5: Yiddish Humor, or “Laughing with Lizards” Part 6: Yiddish Song and “Klezmer” Part 7: Yiddish Poetry and the Alienated Generation Part 8: Yiddish Literature in the Holocaust Part 9: The Blessings and Curses of Translation: The Phenomenon of Isaac Bashevis Singer Part 10: The Present, or the Case of Montreal​

Evaluation: Grading will be based on class participation (10%), short reading responses (20%), a midterm paper (30%), and a final paper (40%). 

Format: Lecture

HIST 207 Jewish History 400 Bce – 1000 

Professor Gershon Hundert 
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This is a survey course that highlights the encounters between Jews and Hellenistic Civilization in late antiquity and Islamic Civilization is the early Middle Ages. The "parting of the ways" between Christianity and Judaism will be an important sub-unit in the course. Because this is a first-year History course, emphasis is placed on introducing students to the modes of inquiry associated with the discipline. 

Texts:  

John Efron, Steven Weitzman, Matthias Lehmann, Joshua Holo, The Jews: A History, Pearson-Prentice-Hall,2nd ed. 2014. 
Coursepack and assigned online readings

Evaluation: 

1.    Attendance and participation in all class meetings.
2.    Completion of required reading assignments on time.
3.    Short Paper 10%
4.    Class Tests on 50%
5.    Term Paper 40%

Format: Lecture

JWST 211 Jewish Studies I

Biblical Period 

Professor Deborah Abecassis
Fall 2018​
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: TBA

Texts: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

Format: Lecture

JWST 220 Introductory Hebrew

Professor Lea Fima
Fall 2018​
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: The objective is to master basic communication in Modern Hebrew language. Students will develop the four language skills of understanding, speaking, reading and writing through the acquisition of basic structures of the language, i.e., grammar, syntax, vocabulary, as well as idiomatic expressions, in order to be able to communicate in Modern Hebrew orally and in writing. Communicative activities, oral practice, written exercises and compositions will be assigned regularly, in order to help integrate skills and reinforce learning. In addition, because the acquisition of a modern language also entails awareness of the culture of its linguistic community, the students will become aware of cultural elements associated with the language.  

Texts:  Shlomit Chayat et al. Hebrew from Scratch, Part I + CD

Evaluation: 

48%  -   4  Class Tests (6%, 10%, 14%, 18%)
12%  -   Quizzes
12%  -   2  In-Class Essays
14%  -   Compositions
10%  -   Oral Presentation
4%  -   Class Participation 

Format: Lecture

JWST 220 Introductory Hebrew

Professor Rina Michaeli
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: The objective is to master basic communication in Modern Hebrew language.

Students will develop the four language skills of understanding, speaking, reading and writing through the acquisition of basic structures of the language, i.e., grammar, syntax, vocabulary, as well as idiomatic expressions, in order to be able to communicate in Modern Hebrew orally and in writing. Communicative activities, oral practice, written exercises and compositions will be assigned regularly, in order to help integrate skills and reinforce learning. In addition, because the acquisition of a modern language also entails awareness of the culture of its linguistic community, the students will become aware of cultural elements associated with the language.

Texts:  Shlomit Chayat et al. Hebrew from Scratch, Part I + CD

Evaluation: 

48%  -   4  Class Tests (6%, 10%, 14%, 18%)
12%  -   Quizzes
12%  -   2  In-Class Essays
14%  -   Compositions
10%  -   Oral Presentation
4%  -   Class Participation 

Format: Lecture

JWST 225 Israeli Literature and Society

Love Triangles and Other National Problems in Hebrew Fiction

Professor Yael Halevi-Wise
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:

https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: To appreciate the nuances of Israel’s literature and society, we will look at complicated love plots in eight novels by authors from different backgrounds--Arabs and Jews; Mizrahim and Ashkenazim; Leftists and Right Wingers. These love plots often span several generations, thus opening a window unto Israeli history as well as identity politics and human psychology. By experimenting with various types of creative assignments—from maps and geometric schemes, to flow charts and regular essays)--we will trace this entanglement of love with geography, warfare, generational strife, identity politics, and national history. 

Texts:  

S. Y. Agnon, In the Prime of Her Life
Meir Shalev, A Pigeon and a Boy
A. B. Yehoshua, The Lover
Amos Oz, A Perfect Peace
Sayed Kashua, Second Person Singular
Emuna Elon, If You Awaken Love
Zruya Shalev, Love Life

Evaluation: 15%  attendance and participation; 60%  ongoing assignments on each novel; 25% 7pp final essay

Format: Lecture

JWST 240 The Holocaust

History and Memory

Professor Danijel Matijevic
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:

https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This course introduces students to the causes of the Holocaust, the experiences of its victims, perpetrators, collaborators and bystanders, as well as its impact and legacy. Students will also be introduced to the key questions, debates and methodological approaches that have characterized scholarly efforts to understand the Holocaust.

Texts:  Doris Bergin, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust; Emanuel Ringelblum, Notes From the Warsaw Ghetto; The Journal of Hélène Berr; Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz; Art Spiegelman, Maus; James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning.

Evaluation: 

Conference Section attendance and participation 15%                                                                                    
Primary Source Analysis  (3-4 pg.) 20%
Research Essay Proposal 5%
Research Essay 25%
Take-Home Final Exam 35%

Format: Lecture

JWST 245 Jewish Life in the Islamic World

From the Prophet Muhammad to the Present

Professor Chris Silver
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: Until the early modern period, most of the world’s Jews spoke Arabic and called the Islamic world home. This course explores the Jewish experience among Muslims from the seventh century until the present. Through close readings of primary sources and historical scholarship, students will learn how Jews under Islam shaped modern Judaism, how engagement with Arabic in Islamic Spain led to the revival of Hebrew, and how the Jewish-Muslim relationship fared in the twentieth century. The course also probes themes of history and memory in light of the departure of Jews from the Islamic world in the 1950s and 1960s.

Texts:  TBA

Evaluation: TBA

Format: Lecture

JWST 254 The Jewish Holy Days

Professor Eric Caplan
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: In this course we will survey the Jewish holiday cycle, including the major Biblical festivals (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, Shavuot), Purim, Hanukah, Holocaust Memorial Day, and the Sabbath. Emphasis will be placed on the historical development of the festivals and on the philosophical messages contained within them. No prior knowledge is assumed.

Texts (tentative): Irving Greenberg, The Jewish Way; Arthur Waskow, Seasons of our Joy.

Evaluation: 2, 1500 word papers (50%), final take-home exam (40%), attendance/participation (10%)

Format: Seminar

JWST 261 History of Jewish Philosophy & Thought

Professor Carlos Frankel
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This course offers an introduction to classical Jewish philosophy from the 10th to the 17th century. The Jewish philosophers we will discuss are Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, Shem Tov Falaquera, Joseph Albo, and Spinoza. Because classical Jewish philosophy took shape within Islamic culture, we will also read a text by the Muslim thinker al-Ghazâlî to familiarize ourselves with this intellectual setting. We will focus on core issues that these philosophers grappled with, for example God’s existence and nature, the creation of the world, divine providence, prophecy, the Law of Moses, the good life, and human perfection. We will also ask how these philosophers justified the study of pagan and Muslim thinkers, for example Plato, Aristotle, and alFarabi, how they integrated philosophy into the Jewish tradition, and how they proposed to resolve tensions between philosophical and Jewish views (Aristotle’s God, for example, is pure mind without a body or emotions, whereas the Bible often depicts God as having human form and human feelings). We will end the class with selections from Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise in which Spinoza calls into question the foundational assumption of classical Jewish philosophy: the harmony of true philosophy and the Jewish tradition.

Texts:  [tentative]

1. Shem Tov Falquera, The Epistle of the Debate.
2. Medieval Jewish Philosophical Writings, ed. Charles Manekin.
3. All other texts will be either included in a course pack or be made available on MyCourses.

Notes on the papers: 

  • Topics for the short papers and the final paper will be posted on MyCourses at least one week prior to the submission date.
  • To get a good grade for the papers you must carefully select, analyze, and assess the primary texts. You should quote key passages and clarify the arguments the author is making.
  • Papers submitted late will be penalized by 1/3 grade per day (e.g. A- instead of A if the paper is one day late).

Evaluation:

  • A. Attendance and focused participation in all meetings. Attendance is mandatory (15%).
  • B. 2 surprise quizzes to test whether you are reading the texts attentively (2 x 5% = 10%).
  • C. 3 short papers of ca. 700 words explaining concisely a core passage or argument in a primary text (3 x 15% = 45%), due on September 27, October 23, and November 20.
  • D. 1 final paper of ca. 1400 words engaging with a core issue from the class in greater depth (30%). The final paper must compare two of the thinkers we discussed in class. It is due on December 10

Format: Seminar

JWST 281 Introductory Yiddish I

Professor Yuri Vedenyapin​
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: An introduction to Yiddish, the millennium-old language of Ashkenazic Jews. This course will cover basic grammar and vocabulary and will include practice in speaking, reading, and writing. The course materials draw on Yiddish literature, humor, songs, and films, and will thus allow students to combine the acquisition of practical language skills with an exploration of Yiddish culture—from its beginnings in medieval Germany through its past and present in Central and Eastern Europe, the Americas, Israel, and all over the world.  

Texts:  All of the course materials will be available on the course website. 

Evaluation: Grading will be based on attendance and homework (40%), in-class quizzes (20%), a final artistic or research project (20%), and a final exam (20%).

Format: Seminar

JWST 300 Charisma and Social Change

Professor David Aberbach​
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: Since the time of Weber, charisma has been studied as a moving force in history, a complex interrelationship of gifted individual and group, society or nation. Weber saw the biblical prophets as archetypal charismatics, whose authority lay not with any institutional power but with the power of their message, their passionate faith and ability to convince others that they were mouthpieces for God. This course begins, accordingly, with a study of charisma in Jewish history, from the prophets to the rise of Zionism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.    We will consider anti-charismatic theology in talmudic literature and give close attention to Jewish messianic movements, particularly those centred on Jesus, Bar-Kokhba and Shabbetai Zevi, which brought immense hope, bitter disappointment - and lasting suspicion upon charisma in Jewish society, which the Hasidic movement did much to dispel.   We will then go on to consider various forms of charisma, in politics, religion, and popular culture, in poetry, drama and fiction; as well as a variety of questions and issues relating to charisma. These include:  homogamy and lack of homogamy;  salvation vs. freedom; charismatic relationships;  charisma and historical crisis;  charismatic and non-charismatic moments; charisma and symbolism;  distortion and reality in the media;  charisma and issues of morality and immorality;  the interconnection of private and public life;  from religious to secular charisma.   

Texts: TBA

Evaluation: Grades will be based on three essay exams to be written in class and  commentaries on course texts  (50%) and two long essays (50%).                       

Format: Seminar

JWST 320 Intermediate Hebrew

Professor Rina Michaeli
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: The objective is to master communication in Modern Hebrew language.

Students will develop the four language skills of understanding, speaking, reading and writing through the acquisition of basic structures of the language, i.e., grammar, syntax, vocabulary, as well as idiomatic expressions, in order to be able to communicate in Modern Hebrew orally and in writing. Communicative activities, oral practice, written exercises and article analysis will be assigned in order to help integrate skills and reinforce learning. In addition, because the acquisition of a modern language also entails awareness of the culture of its linguistic community, the students will become aware of cultural elements associated with the language and the diversity of the Israeli society.

Texts: Shlomit Chayat et al. Hebrew from Scratch, Part I + CD

Evaluation: 

48% - 4 Class Tests (6%, 10%, 14%, 18%)
12% - Quizzes
12% - 2 In-Class Essays
10% - Compositions
10% - Oral Presentation
​8% - Class Participation

Format: Seminar

JWST 340 Advanced Hebrew

Professor Lea Fima
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: The objective is to communicate on familiar topics in Modern Hebrew language. Students will develop the four language skills of understanding, speaking, reading and writing through the acquisition of the advanced structures of the language, i.e., grammar, syntax, vocabulary, as well as idiomatic expressions, in order to be able to communicate in Modern Hebrew orally and in writing. Communicative activities, oral practice, written exercises and compositions will be assigned regularly, in order to help integrate skills and reinforce learning. In addition, because the acquisition of a modern language also entails awareness of the culture of its linguistic community, the students will become aware of cultural elements associated with the language.

Texts: Edna Amir Coffin. Lessons in Modern Hebrew: Level II (2) Publisher: University of Michigan Press 

Recommended Text: Hebrew Dictionary (Oxford, Eng-Heb, Heb-Eng Dictionary, Kernerman – Lonnie Kahn) 

Evaluation: 

48%  -   4  Class Tests (6%, 10%, 14%, 18%)
12%  -   Quizzes
12%  -   2  In-Class Essays
14%  -   Compositions
10%  -   Oral Presentation
4%  -   Class Participation 

Format: Seminar

JWST 351 Studies in Modern Literature

Jewish Women’s Poetry

Professor Esther Frank
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: We will be spending the semester engaged in close textual analysis of a wide range of poems by Yiddish and Jewish women. The readings will be in English translation and will be drawn from European, American, and Canadian sources. We will focus on works representative of cultural moments when Jewish women poets appeared in print. Topics to be discussed are: 1) the effect WW1, the Russian Revolution, Immigration, Anti Semitism, World War11 had on the emergence of women writers and 2) on specifics of theme, style and genre, and 3) to answer the perhaps insoluble question as to whether writings by Jewish women poets constitute a separate tradition of works. 

Texts: Course pack which will include primary and secondary material.

Evaluation: class participation 10%, two small papers each worth 10%, Mid-term essay 30%, and final essay 40%

Format: Seminar

JWST 358 Topics in Jewish Philosophy 1

Professor Lawrence Kaplan​
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This course will examine modern Jewish legal and political theories from Benedict Spinoza down to the present day, as thinking Jews confront the multiple challenges that the modern world poses to ongoing Jewish communal existence. Among such challenges are: secularization; historicism; the rise of the modern Nation-State with its claim on its citizens; the dissolution of Jewish communal power; the decline of rabbinic authority and emergence of new types of leaders; new forms of both religious and secular Jewish identity; the new-found value granted to the autonomy of the individual subject; the rise of Jewish nationalism, Zionism, and the State of Israel; and feminist theories of law. We will examine an exceptionally wide range of thinkers from the most Ultra-Orthodox to the most radical and all shades and gradations in between.

The main text for the course, which students should buy, will be the new anthology Jewish Legal Theories: Writings on State, Religion, and Morality, edited by Leora Batnitzky and Yonatan Brafman, Brandeis University Press, 2018. This volume will be supplemented by selected readings (available in a course pack) from The Jewish Political Tradition,

Volumes One (Authority) and Two (Membership), edited by Michael Walzer et al, Yale University Press, 2000 and 2003.

Texts: TBA

Evaluation: 

Participation: 10%
Mid-Term 20%
Take-Home Final 40%
Paper 30%

Format: Seminar

JWST 359 Topics in Jewish Philosophy

Introduction to the Zohar

Professor Jeremy Brown
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This course offers a basic overview of the major literary outpouring of the medieval rabbinic imagination known as Sefer ha-Zohar. Students study the enigmatic development of this literature from 13th century Castile to its printing in 16th century Italy. They gain a basic familiarity with the Zohar’s allegorical and symbolical modes of biblical interpretation (based upon medieval Jewish philosophy and especially kabbalah); its mythology; its mystical approach to the traditional commandments; as well as its discourse on gender and sexuality. Discussion also focuses on the innovations of the Zohar vis-à-vis older Judaic wisdom traditions and earlier approaches to reading the Hebrew Bible. Students also examine the complex relationship between the Zohar and Christianity, as well as Islam. The final unit of the course explores the Zohar’s Idra literature, which contains the boldest experiments in anthropomorphism produced by rabbinic culture. No knowledge of Hebrew or Aramaic is required, but background in Jewish Studies and/or Religious Studies is optimal.

Texts: 

  • Course Reader
  • Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003)
  • Daniel Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Vol. 8 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014 & 2016)
  • Daniel Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Vol. 9 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016)
  • Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York: Shocken, 1946)

Evaluation: 

Attendance, Preparation & Participation (25%)
Reading presentation (15%)
Midterm exam (15%)
Short composition (20%)
Final paper (25%).

Format: Seminar

JWST 369 Hebrew Language and Israeli Culture

Professor Lea Fima
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: The aim of this course is to expose students to the various aspects of contemporary Israeli society and culture through films, music and other media, as well as academic, journalistic, literary, art historical and dramatic texts (all texts are in Hebrew). 

Texts: TBA

Evaluation: 

40%    -        Essay (1500 words min.)
30%    -        2 In-Class Essays 
15%    -        2 quizzes
10%    -        Text Preparation Assignments (to be marked at random)
  5%    -        Class Participation and presentation 

Format: Seminar

JWST 377 Topics in Jewish Music

From Mother Russia to the New World

Professor Liane Alitowski
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: This guided listening course will investigate the evolution of Jewish secular art music from Russia to the United States from the late 19th century until the present. Our discussion will begin with Russia Jewish composers’ creation of the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music. We will see how Jewish musical nationalism as well as Zionistic trends emerged through the efforts of composers such as Joel Engel, Moshe Milner, Joseph Achron, Lazar Weiner and Lazare Saminsky, as well as ethnographers and archivists, S. Ansky and Moisei Beregovsky.

In the early 20th century Jewish immigrants from Russia brought their rich musical traditions to the new world. From the concert hall to the theater to the movie screen, Jewish composers greatly influenced the American musical landscape. A diversity of musical genres will be explored, including: Yiddish theater's revival and influence on the development of the American musical songbook and Broadway; Jews' collaboration with African American musicians in ragtime and jazz; Jewish pioneers in early 20thC and contemporary classical music (Leonard Bernstein, Arnold Schoenberg, Steve Reich); innovations in avant-garde jazz (Uri Caine, John Zorn); as well as popular music icons (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen), among others.

*Knowledge of music history, notation and/or theory is not a pre-requisite.

Texts: 

Jewish Musical Nationalism:
Arnold Perris, “People Without Power: Musical Nationalism in Europe, 1830-1920”
Jascha Nemstov, “‘National Dignity’ and ‘Spiritual Reintegration’: The Discovery and Presentation of Jewish Folk Music in Germany”
Leonid Sabaneev, “The Jewish National School in Music”

Ethnographer/Ethnomusicologist:
S. Ansky, “The Dybbuk”/ Jewish Labor Bund
Mark Slobin, “Moisei Beregovsky”
St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music: Mikhail Gnesin
Loeffler, “In Memory of Our Murdered (Jewish) Children”: Hearing the Holocaust in Soviet Jewish Culture”
New Yiddish Songs: Sholom Secunda

Yiddish Theatre & Film: Pesach Burstein, Boris Thomashevsky & Molly Picon:
Marsha Bryan Edelman, “All the World’s a Stage: The Story of Yiddish Theater

From the Old World to the New World through Yiddish Film:

Mark Slobin, “Unintentional History: Musical Moments in 1930s Yiddish Films”

Jewish Life on the Silver Screen:
Abraham Ellstein, “Yidl Mitn Fidl”
Tin Pan Alley: Jewish Songwriters of American Songs
Emanuel Rubin and John H. Baron, “Secular Jewish Music and Musicians in North America”

Jews & Blacks in Early 1900s Ragtime & Blackface:
Kenneth Aaron Kanter, “The Ragtime Era”
Jeffrey Melnick, “‘Yiddle on Your Fiddle’: The Culture of Black-Jewish Relations”
Charles Hamm, “Berlin and Blackface”
Black-Jewish Relations: Paul Robeson, Cab Calloway & The Gershwins
Irene Heskes, “Some Thoughts on American Popular Songwriters: Berlin, Kern, Gershwin and Arlen”
Reuben Musiker, “How Jewish Were the Great Composers of American Popular Music?”

Jews & Blacks - Jazz & Big Band:
David Lehman, “A Right to Sing the Blues - Yankee Doodle Yiddishkeit”
Music During The Depression - Jay Gorney & Abel Meeropol

1940s/50s Musical Theatre: Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein

Modern Religious Voices: Shlomo Carlebach & Debbie Friedman

Klezmer Revival: Hankus Netsky & David Krakauer
Hankus Netsky, “American Klezmer: A Brief History”
David Kaminsky, “‘And We Sing Gay Songs’: The Klezmatics: Negotiating the Boundaries of Jewish Identity”

20thC Classical Composers: Aaron Copland & Leonard Bernstein
Howard Pollack, “From Vitebsk to the Piano Variations (1928-30)”
Emanuel Rubin & John H. Baron, “Secular Jewish Music and Musicians in North America”

20th C Cabaret & Contemporary Composers: Kurt Weill, Steve Reich & Srul Irving Glick

Vietnam War Protest Song: Arlo Guthrie, Tom Lehrer & Phil Ochs

Folk/Anthemic: Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel & Leonard Cohen
Michael Jones, “Judas and the Many ‘Betrayals’ of Bob Dylan

Rock & Roll to Broadway: Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand & Bette Midler
Steven Horowitz, “Absolutely Kosher Music: The Story of American Jews in Rock & Roll”

Avant-Garde Jazz: Tzadik Label & Radical Jewish Culture
Michael Scott Cuthbert, “Free Improvisation: John Zorn and the Construction of Jewish Identity Through Music”

Canadian Jewish hip hop: Socalled

Evaluation: Grading will be based on reading and listening assignments (50%), a group oral (10%), and an open book + take-home essay exam (40%)

Format: Seminar

JWST 386 American Jewish Literature

American Jewish Immigrant Novel

Professor Esther Frank​
Fall 2018
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

Full course description

 Description: America has been and still is, described as a nation of immigrants. This consciously calls attention to the diversity of its people. Historically, this description runs counter to an earliest description of America as a nation, distinct in its lack of centuries old accretion of struggles-  traditions-economic, social, political and cultural, that marked Europe.

From the late 19th century to the present millions of immigrants came to America. Among which, from various parts of Europe, from the 1880s to the years after WW11, when restrictive immigration laws were lifted, were vast numbers of Jews. Many recorded their experiences in fiction.

Brief as the earliest moment of America’s self definition as a nation has been, Jewish American authors, in so far as they draw on the immigrant experience, have had in in one way or another, to struggle with and define what Jewish and American identity means.  We will focus on character, theme, image to examine the various literary explorations of the immigrant experience. 

Texts: A Cahan, Anzia Yezierka, Henry Roth, Allegra Goodman  Phillip Roth Cynthia Ozick, David Bezmozgis, Dara Horn.

Evaluation: Class discussion and participation 10%; Mid Term essay 40%; Final essay 60%

Format: Seminar

HIST 572 Jew In Early Modern And Modern Europe 

Professor Gershon Hundert 
Fall 2018 - Winter 2019
To check the times and locations for these courses, please go to:
https://horizon.mcgill.ca/pban1/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched                               

Full course description

 Description: Although this course will emphasize the period referred to as "early modern" -  roughly the period between 1453 and 1789 - we will venture into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well.  A variety of topics and issues will be discussed including: the print revolution; absolutism; codification; kabbalah; Iberian inquisition and expulsion; commerce and early capitalism; tolerance and toleration; messianism and gender; did Jews have a Renaissance?; Ukrainian catastrophe; kabbalah; Jewish responses to the Reformation and more. To the extent possible the students' interests will configure the topics examined in depth. Discussions will focus on primary materials in English.

Texts: TBA

Evaluation: 

1.    Weekly  summary-evaluations of the assigned reading. These will be presented orally as well. Each written submission will be graded /10 and the best four  grades will be considered and will count for 40%
2.    Punctual completion of all reading assignments; attendance at class meetings. Students are expected to prepare for and participate in class discussion. The incentive for this will be the assignment of 10% of the final grade for such participation. 10%                                                                                          
3.   A substantial research paper (20 to 30 pp.) 50%                                                                                                    

PRESENTATIONS: This is a c10 minute discussion of a text, primary or secondary, presented to the class. The grade will be based on the written submission following oral presentation. The submission will normally be 2 to 4  pages in length.
RESEARCH PAPER: The research paper will be prepared in three stages, the first two of which, ideally, will be presented to the group and will benefit from comments by members of the seminar. The stages are:

1.    Initial formulation of the question and preliminary bibliography.
2.    First draft of the paper.
3.    Final version.

Format: Seminar