Contacts | Program of Study | Program Requirements | Courses

Department Website: http://ccjs.uchicago.edu

Program of Study

The BA program in Jewish Studies provides a context in which College students may examine the texts, cultures, languages, and histories of Jews and Judaism over three millennia. The perspective is contextual, comparative, and interdisciplinary. The long and diverse history of Jews and Judaism affords unique opportunities to study modes of continuity and change, interpretation and innovation, and isolation and integration of a world historical civilization. Students are encouraged to develop appropriate skills (in texts, languages, history, and culture) for independent work.

Students in other fields of study may also complete a minor in Jewish Studies. Information follows the description of the major.

Program Requirements

Major in Jewish Studies

The major requires twelve courses distributed according to the guidelines that follow. A full, constantly updated list of courses approved for the major and minor is available on the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies website at ccjs.uchicago.edu.

Language

The twelve courses required for the major typically include three quarters of Hebrew. If the student's research project requires knowledge of a language other than Hebrew, the student may petition the committee to substitute that language for Hebrew. 

Jewish Civilization

Every year, several courses in Jewish civilization are offered. These have course codes in the ranges JWSC 20120–20199 and JWSC 20220–20299. Jewish civilization courses may be taken in any order and may be used to fulfill the College’s general education requirement in civilization studies. To fulfill the general education civilization requirement, at least one course must pertain to the ancient or medieval periods (JWSC 20120–20199) and at least one course must pertain to the modern period (in the range JWSC 20220–20299).

Note: This Jewish Civilization course numbering system was revised in Academic Year 2015–2016. Students who have already taken one or two courses from the previous JWSC civilization studies sequences (JWSC 20001-20003 or JWSC 20004-20006) and wish to complete the civilization requirement may take an additional JWSC civilization course from the set of eligible courses as defined above, provided that they end up having taken at least one JWSC course in the ancient or medieval period and one in the modern period and provided that they do not take the same course twice under two different numbers.

For the major in Jewish Studies, students are required to take four to six Jewish civilization courses. At least two of these must pertain to the ancient or medieval periods (in the range JWSC 20120–20199) and at least two must pertain to the modern period (in the range JWSC 20220–20299). [Courses from the previous sequences JWSC 20001-20003 and JWSC 20004-20006 will also be counted towards the fulfillment of this requirement.] Students may also earn credit for three Jewish civilization courses (ancient, medieval, and modern) by participating in the “Jerusalem in Middle Eastern Civilizations” Study Abroad program. (For more information about this program, please see the Study Abroad page of this catalog.)

Note that students who fulfill their general education requirement in civilization studies in an area outside of Jewish Studies still must take the four to six courses in Jewish civilization prescribed above in order to earn a major in Jewish Studies. Students who fulfill the general education requirement in civilization studies by taking courses in Jewish civilization are required to take, as an elective, one quarter of another civilization sequence pertinent to the area and period of their primary interest in Jewish Studies.

Other Requirements

In addition to three courses in Hebrew (or another language, by petition) and four to six courses in Jewish civilization, as described above, students majoring in Jewish Studies must take three to five elective courses in Jewish Studies, making a total of twelve courses. Eligible courses will have the JWSC prefix. The elective courses should normally focus in a specific area of concentration within Jewish Studies and should be chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. Beyond the requirements for the major, students are encouraged to take at least one course in method or theory pertaining to their area of concentration in Jewish Studies.

Students who have not completed the College’s general education requirements before starting the major should do so during their first year as Jewish Studies majors. Students are required to meet with the director of undergraduate studies before declaring a major in Jewish Studies. Each student in the major will have as an adviser a faculty member who is affiliated with the Center for Jewish Studies.

Summary of Requirements

Three courses in Hebrew or other approved language as described in Language section300
A total of nine courses from the following:900
Four to six Jewish Civilization courses, at least two of which deal with the ancient or medieval periods (JWSC 20120–20199) and at least two of which deal with the modern period (JWSC 20220–20299). Jewish Studies majors may also earn 300 unit credits (ancient, medieval, and modern) through the Study Abroad program in Jerusalem.
Three to five elective courses among all JWSC course listings
Total Units1200

Optional BA Paper

Students who choose this option are to meet with their advisers by May 15 of their third year to determine the focus of the research project, and they are expected to begin reading and research for the BA paper during the summer before their fourth year. After further consultation, students are to continue guided readings and participate in a (formal or informal) tutorial during Autumn Quarter of their fourth year. Credit toward the major is received only for the Winter Quarter tutorial during which the BA paper is finally written and revised. The BA tutorial may count toward one of the courses related to Jewish Studies. The BA paper must be received by the primary reader by the end of fifth week of Spring Quarter. A BA paper is a requirement for consideration for honors.

This program may accept a BA paper or project used to satisfy the same requirement in another major if certain conditions are met and with the consent of the other program chair. Approval from both program chairs is required. Students should consult with the chairs by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, if neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both chairs, is available from the College adviser. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.

Honors

Honors are awarded to students who demonstrate excellence in their course work, as well as on the BA paper. To qualify for honors, students must register for JWSC 29900 BA Paper Preparation Course in addition to the twelve courses required in the general program of study, bringing the total number of courses required to thirteen. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher and a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major, and the BA paper must be judged to be at least of A- quality.

Grading

Students take all courses required for the major for quality grades. However, students who qualify for honors may take for P/F grading during the second quarter of their fourth year. Requirements for this P/F course will be agreed upon by the student and the instructor.

Minor in Jewish Studies

The minor in Jewish Studies provides a basic introduction to the texts, cultures, languages, and history of the Jews and Judaism. Six courses are required for the minor, of which at least one must be a course in ancient or medieval Jewish civilization (with a course code in the range JWSC 20120–20199) and at least one must be a course in modern Jewish civilization (with a course code in the range JWSC 20220–20299). [Courses from the previous sequences JWSC 20001-20003 and JWSC 20004-20006 will also be counted towards the fulfillment of this requirement.] The other courses may be in any area of Jewish Studies, including languages such as Hebrew and Yiddish; such courses can be identified by their JWSC prefix. Students can earn credit for three courses in Jewish civilization (ancient, medieval, and modern) by participating in the “Jerusalem in Middle Eastern Civilizations” Study Abroad program. (For more information about this program, please see the Study Abroad page of this catalog.)

Students who wish to do a minor in Jewish Studies must meet with the director of undergraduate studies before the end of the Spring Quarter of their third year to declare their intention to complete the minor. The director’s approval for the minor program will then be communicated to the student’s College adviser.

Courses taken to fulfill the requirements for the minor in Jewish Studies may not be double-counted with courses taken for the student’s major(s) or courses taken for other minors. Courses taken for the minor in Jewish Studies must be taken for quality grades.

Jewish Studies - College Courses

JWSC 20120. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. 100 Units.

The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is a complex anthology of disparate texts and reflects a diversity of religious, political, and historical perspectives from ancient Israel, Judah, and Yehud. Because this collection of texts continues to play an important role in modern religions, new meanings are often imposed upon it. In this course, we will attempt to read biblical texts apart from modern preconceptions about them. We will also contextualize their ideas and goals through comparison with texts from ancient Mesopotamia, Syro-Palestine, and Egypt. Such comparisons will demonstrate that the Hebrew Bible is fully part of the cultural milieu of the Ancient Near East. To accomplish these goals, we will read a significant portion of the Hebrew Bible in English, along with representative selections from secondary literature. We will also spend some time thinking about the nature of biblical interpretation.

Instructor(s): Jeffrey Stackert     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course may be used to fulfill the College’s general education requirement in civilization studies.
Equivalent Course(s): BIBL 31000,NEHC 20504,NEHC 30504,RLST 11004

JWSC 20121. The Bible and Archaeology. 100 Units.

In this course we will look at how interpretation of evidence unearthed by archaeologists contributes to a historical-critical reading of the Bible, and vice versa. We will focus on the cultural background of the biblical narratives, from the stories of Creation and Flood to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans in the year 70. No prior coursework in archaeology or biblical studies is required, although it will be helpful for students to have taken JWSC 20120 (Introduction to the Hebrew Bible).

Instructor(s): David Schloen     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): This course may be used to fulfill the College’s general education requirement in civilization studies.
Equivalent Course(s): NEHC 20121,NEHC 30121,RLST 20408

JWSC 20224. Jewish Spaces and Places, Real and Imagined. 100 Units.

What makes a ghetto, a ghetto? What defines a Jewish neighborhood? What determined the architectural form of synagogues? Making extensive use of Jewish law and customary practice, cookbooks, etiquette guides, prints, films, novels, maps, memoirs, architectural drawings and photographs, and tourist guides, this course will analyze how Jews (in all their diversity) and non-Jews defined Jewish spaces and places. The focus will be on Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, but we will also venture back into the early modern period and across the Mediterranean to Palestine/Israel and North Africa, and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the Americas. We will study both actually existing structures—synagogues, ritual baths, schools, kosher (and kosher-style) butcher shops, bakeries and restaurants, social and political clubs, hospitals, orphanages, old age homes, museums, and memorials—but also texts and visual culture in which Jewish places and spaces are imagined or vilified. Parallel to our work with primary sources we will read in the recent, very rich, scholarly literature on this topic. This is not a survey course; we will undertake a series of intensive case-studies through which we will address the larger issues. This is a limited-enrollment, discussion-based course. No previous knowledge of Jewish history is expected.

Instructor(s): Leora Auslander     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): This course may be used to fulfill the general education requirement in civilization studies.
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 23410

JWSC 20233. Jews and Arabs: Three Moralities, Historiographies & Roadmaps. 100 Units.

A distinction will be made between mainly three approaches to Zionism: essentialist-proprietary, constructivist-egalitarian, and critical-dismissive. This will be followed by an explication of these approaches’ implications for four issues: pre-Zionist Jewish history; institutional and territorial arrangements in Israel/Palestine concerning the relationships between Jews and the Palestinians; the relationships between Israeli Jews and world Jewry; and the implications of these approaches for the future of Israel/Palestine and the future of Judaism.

Instructor(s): C. Gans     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course may be used to fulfill the general education requirement in civilization studies.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 38510,NEHC 24800,NEHC 34800,PLSC 28510

JWSC 22000-22100-22200. Elementary Classical Hebrew I-II-III.

The purpose of this three-quarter sequence is to enable the student to read biblical Hebrew prose with a high degree of comprehension. The sequence is divided into two segments: (1) the first two quarters are devoted to acquiring the essentials of descriptive and historical grammar (including translation to and from Hebrew, oral exercises, and grammatical analysis); and (2) the third quarter is spent examining prose passages from the Hebrew Bible and includes a review of grammar.

JWSC 22000. Elementary Classical Hebrew I. 100 Units.

The first two quarters are devoted to acquiring the essentials of descriptive and historical grammar (including translation to and from Hebrew, oral exercises, and grammatical analysis).

Instructor(s): S. Creason     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This class meets 5 times a week
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 10101

JWSC 22100. Elementary Classical Hebrew II. 100 Units.

The first two quarters are devoted to acquiring the essentials of descriptive and historical grammar (including translation to and from Hebrew, oral exercises, and grammatical analysis).

Instructor(s): S. Creason     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10101 or equivalent
Note(s): This class meets 5 times a week
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 10102

JWSC 22200. Elementary Classical Hebrew III. 100 Units.

The third quarter is spent examining prose passages from the Hebrew Bible and includes a review of grammar.

Instructor(s): S. Creason     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10102
Note(s): This class meets 5 times a week
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 10103

JWSC 22300-22400-22500. Intermediate Classical Hebrew I-II-III.

A continuation of Elementary Classical Hebrew. The first quarter consists of reviewing grammar, and of reading and analyzing further prose texts. The last two quarters are devoted to an introduction to Hebrew poetry with readings from Psalms, Proverbs, and the prophets.

JWSC 22300. Intermediate Classical Hebrew I. 100 Units.

The first quarter consists of reviewing grammar, and of reading and analyzing further prose texts.

Instructor(s): D. Pardee     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10103 or equivalent
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 20104

JWSC 22400. Intermediate Classical Hebrew II. 100 Units.

The last two quarters are devoted to an introduction to Hebrew poetry with readings from Psalms, Proverbs, and the prophets.

Instructor(s): D. Pardee     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20104 or equivalent
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 20105

JWSC 22500. Intermediate Classical Hebrew III. 100 Units.

The last two quarters are devoted to an introduction to Hebrew poetry with readings from Psalms, Proverbs, and the prophets.

Instructor(s): D. Pardee     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20105 or equivalent
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 20106

JWSC 25000-25100-25200. Introductory Modern Hebrew I-II-III.

This three-quarter sequence introduces students to reading, writing, and speaking modern Hebrew. All four language skills are emphasized: comprehension of written and oral materials; reading of nondiacritical text; writing of directed sentences, paragraphs, and compositions; and speaking. Students learn the Hebrew root pattern system and the seven basic verb conjugations in both the past and present tenses, as well as simple future. At the end of the year, students can conduct short conversations in Hebrew, read materials designed to their level, and write a short essay.

JWSC 25000. Introductory Modern Hebrew I. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Almog     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 10501

JWSC 25100. Introductory Modern Hebrew II. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Almog     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10501 or equivalent
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 10502

JWSC 25200. Introductory Modern Hebrew III. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Almog     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10502 or equivalent
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 10503

JWSC 25149. Anthropology of Israel. 100 Units.

This seminar explores the dynamics of Israeli culture and society through a combination of weekly screenings of Israeli fiction and documentary films with readings from ethnographic and other relevant research. Among the (often overlapping) topics to be covered in this examination of the institutional and ideological construction of Israeli identity/ies: the absorption of immigrants; ethnic, class, and religious tensions; the kibbutz; military experience; the Holocaust; evolving attitudes about gender and sexuality; the struggle for minorities’ rights; and Arab-Jewish relations. 

Instructor(s): Morris Fred     Terms Offered: Spring,TBD
Prerequisite(s): Undergrads must be upper division (3rd and 4th years)
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 35150,CMES 35150,NEHC 35147,NEHC 25147,ANTH 25150,MAPS 35150

JWSC 25300-25400-25500. Intermediate Modern Hebrew I-II-III.

The main objective of this sequence is to provide students with the skills necessary to approach modern Hebrew prose, both fiction and nonfiction. In order to achieve this task, students are provided with a systematic examination of the complete verb structure. Many syntactic structures are introduced (e.g., simple clauses, coordinate and compound sentences). At this level, students not only write and speak extensively but are also required to analyze grammatically and contextually all of material assigned.

JWSC 25300. Intermediate Modern Hebrew I. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Almog     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 10503 or equivalent
Note(s): The course is devised for students who have previously taken either modern or biblical Hebrew courses.
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 20501

JWSC 25400. Intermediate Modern Hebrew II. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Almog     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20501 or equivalent
Note(s): The course is devised for students who have previously taken either modern or biblical Hebrew courses.
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 20502

JWSC 25500. Intermediate Modern Hebrew III. 100 Units.

Instructor(s): A. Almog     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20502 or equivalent
Note(s): The course is devised for students who have previously taken either modern or biblical Hebrew courses.
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 20503

JWSC 25600-25700-25800. Advanced Modern Hebrew I-II-III.

This sequence assumes that students have full mastery of the grammatical and lexical content of the intermediate level. The main objective is literary fluency. The texts used in this sequence include both academic prose and literature. Students are exposed to semantics and morphology in addition to advanced grammar.

JWSC 25600. Advanced Modern Hebrew I. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Finkelstein     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20503 or equivalent

JWSC 25700. Advanced Modern Hebrew II. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Finkelstein     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20503 or equivalent

JWSC 25800. Advanced Modern Hebrew III. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): A. Finkelstein     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20503 or equivalent

JWSC 25601. Advanced Readings in Modern Hebrew. 100 Units.

Although this course assumes that students have full mastery of the grammatical and lexical content at the intermediate level, there is a shift from a reliance on the cognitive approach to an emphasis on the expansion of various grammatical and vocabulary-related subjects. After being introduced to sophisticated and more complex syntactic constructions, students learn how to transform simple sentences into more complicated ones. The exercises address the creative efforts of students, and the reading segments are longer and more challenging in both style and content. The language of the texts reflects the literary written medium rather than the more informal spoken style, which often dominates the introductory and intermediate texts.

Instructor(s): N. Rokem     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): HEBR 20503 or equivalent
Equivalent Course(s): HEBR 30601

JWSC 28750. Memory Bound: Jewish Memory and the Binding of Isaac. 100 Units.

The story of the Binding of Isaac (Gen. 22:1-19) is perhaps the best known narrative in the Hebrew Bible. It may also be the least appreciated for its ongoing influence on Jewish identity and memory. We will apply social and memory theory to the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), and its interpretations in rabbinic literature, historical chronicles, and literature, in order to better understand the ways in which foundational narratives and cultural identities engage in a process of continuous mutual interpretation. We will also examine how technology and social media are customizing memory, and dramatically reshaping cultures and their collective memories. 

Instructor(s): David Gottlieb     Terms Offered: Winter

JWSC 29500. Holocaust Object. 100 Units.

In this course, we explore various ontological and representational modes of the Holocaust material object world as it was represented during World War II. Then, we interrogate the post-Holocaust artifacts and material remnants, as they are displayed, curated, controlled, and narrated in the memorial sites and museums of former ghettos and extermination and concentration camps. These sites which—once the locations of genocide—are now places of remembrance, the (post)human, and material remnants also serve educational purposes. Therefore, we study the ways in which this material world, ranging from infrastructure to detritus, has been subjected to two, often conflicting, tasks of representation and preservation, which we view through a prism of authenticity. In order to study representation, we critically engage a textual and visual reading of museum narrations and fiction writings; to tackle the demands of preservation, we apply a neo-materialist approach. Of special interest are survivors’ testimonies as appended to the artifacts they donated. The course will also equip you with salient critical tools for future creative research in Holocaust studies.

Instructor(s): Bozena Shallcross     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): REES 37019,ANTH 23910,ANTH 35035,REES 27019

JWSC 29700. Reading and Research Course. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and Undergraduate Program Adviser
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.

JWSC 29900. BA Paper Preparation Course. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and Undergraduate Program Adviser
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Required of honors candidates. May be taken for P/F grading with consent of instructor.


Contacts

Undergraduate Primary Contacts

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Ari Almog
C 223
773.702.7022
Email

Acting Director
Jeffrey Stackert
Swift 226
773.702.8994
Email

Administrative Contact

Administrator
Nancy Pardee
1155 E. 60th St. Room 302A
773.702.7108
Email