J S 301 • Intro To Jewish Studies

38515 • Weinreb, Amelia
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM WCH 1.120 • Hybrid/Blended
EGC (also listed as ANT 311D, MES 310, R S 313D)
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Course Description

This survey course aims to expose students to major themes in Jewish Studies through guest lectures by UT faculty who work in the field. It is recommended for motivated undergraduates in any discipline with an intellectual curiosity about Jewish Studies, but requires no previous knowledge of Jewish religion, ethnicity, or culture. The material in the course is not designed be comprehensive, but rather provides a curated sample of lectures and core topics. This semester, the course is organized around three thematic units: 1) Exile and Diaspora, 2) Jewish Identity, and 3) Jewish Ethics.

The weekly rhythm of the course is generally as follows: On Mondays and Wednesdays, various faculty associated with Jewish Studies will visit the classroom and deliver lectures concentrating on their period, geographical area, and field of research as they relate to the thematic unit at hand. Fridays are a series of lively, fast-paced, interactive meetings, led by students. Students are encouraged to consider course materials comparatively, in view of both their distinct features and their overarching threads, and defend positions through evidence based both on lectures and the course reader. Student discussion leaders, designated in advance, will raise questions, stimulate debate, and integrate ideas into our collective analysis.

J S 304M • Jewish Civ: Begin To 1492

38520 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 220
GC (also listed as HIS 306N, MES 310, R S 313M)
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This course is a survey of Jewish civilization from the origins of Ancient Israel to 1500 C.E.  All materials are in English translation. The course will address both the history of Jews during this long period, and the most influential writings produced during that time.  There will be some focus on the persons and writings that have been most influential for Jewish Civilization over time, including influence in the modern world.  This course is the first half of a two-semester sequence, and another course taught regularly in Spring semester addresses Jewish Civilization from 1492 to the present.


The course will be organized according to an overarching thematic image of “Crisis and Response.”  Jewish Civilization over the time period we study, from origins in the later part of the second millennium B.C.E., to the end of the 15th century C.E., encountered key crises including a memory of enslavement in its sacred sources, the need for sovereignty, the loss of sovereignty and a state of exile, and then continued existence only within larger empires for over two millennia.  Responses to these crises were varied. 

In early legends, centuries of slavery were followed by liberation as The Exodus and the establishment of covenantal law (addressed in Unit 1). 

Later, the need for sovereignty brought the establishment of monarchy and centralized worship at a temple by the kings David and Solomon, and then a continuous period of sovereignty for over four centuries.  This sovereignty ended in 587 B.C.E. and this change initiated the need for continued existence in exile in Persian and Hellenistic polities (addressed in Unit 2). 

The first century C.E. brought a new crisis with the end of Temple worship due to Roman conquest, and then the most enduring and productive response for Jewish Civilization was the legal and other innovations of Classical Rabbinic Judaism (addressed in Unit 3). 

In the Middle Ages, the rise of Christian and Muslim empires brought new contexts for Jewish communities, but also new degrees of persecution, and these crises were intimately connected with responses in intellectual and religious life, including the development of philosophy and the mysticism of Kabbalah (addressed in Unit 4).  



  1. Three short papers, 2 pages each; each 15% of the course grade (45% total)
  2. Midterm exam, closed-book, in-class (20%)
  3. Final Exam, closed book, in-class; location, time, and date are set by the Registrar (20%)
  4. Class Participation (15%)


Required Books (available at the University Co-Op Bookstore):

Alexander, ed., Textual Sources for the Study of Judaism

Jewish Publication Society (JTS), TaNaKh: The Holy Scriptures

Robert Seltzer, Jewish People, Jewish Thought

J S 307 • Intro Holocst/Gencd Studies-Wb

38525 • Lichtenstein, Tatjana
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM • Internet
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Genocidal events and violence belong to the catalogue of human behavior across time and space.
This course introduces students to the field of Holocaust and genocide studies. It aims to provide
students with interdisciplinary perspectives (including historical, political, socio-psychological
and cultural methods and insights) on genocide as a global phenomenon.

J S 311 • History Of Israel-Wb

38539 • Lustig, Jason
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM • Internet
GC (also listed as MES 310)
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The modern state of Israel was founded in a land known in modern times as Palestine, and this course
examines the origins and history of modern Israel and the Zionist project to create a state for the Jews
within the context of the land and the people who have lived there, of diverse faiths and ethnic
backgrounds. The class brings together the history of Palestine and the land of Israel, the Zionist
movement, Palestinian and Arab nationalism, modern Jewish history, and the history of Israel’s state and
cultures. Students will gain a historical context to understand the complex movement of ideas, peoples,
and polities across a small stretch of land which since ancient times has been a site of political and
religious conflict. The course proceeds chronologically from the nineteenth century to the present,
focusing on political, intellectual, and cultural history so that we can consider how one land has had so
many histories but all those who live there have an intertwined destiny.

J S 311 • Judaism, Christnty, Islam-Wb

38529 • Smith, Geoffrey
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM • Internet
EGC (also listed as ISL 311)
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This course asks students to recognize the ethical implications of the ways we talk about religion – both our own religion (if any) and those of others. Choosing definitions for religion is an ethical choice with social, political, and civic implications; the goal of this course is to assist students in becoming self-conscious about that choice. In so doing, students will improve their ability to tolerate and reduce moral disagreements about religious beliefs and practices, something that is at the heart of practical ethics education. Specifically, the ethical issues in this course encourage students to: • reflect on different definitions of religion, to choose which ones appeal to them, and to explore their implications • analyze the ways in which religions form “communities of memory,” to consider in what ways these communities create boundaries that both enclose and exclude • understand the different ways that religions have historically intersected with with politics, with science, and with culture •consider how these intersections might influence the students’ perceptions of religion and the ways in which religion is presented in contemporary media and popular culture.

J S 311C • Roots Religious Toleration-Wb

38540 • Bodian, Marion
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM • Internet
(also listed as HIS 309J, R S 306D)
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Religious intolerance seems to be endemic in human societies. It takes different forms, ranging from subtle discrimination to mass violence. There are times when it is less intense than at others. As a social phenomenon, there seems little chance that it can ever be eliminated. 


But historically, political and legal structures have been developed that have ensured a high degree of freedom for religious minorities. These structures have been built gradually and with great effort. They have very particular roots in early modern Europe (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries). In this course we will try to understand in historical perspective how this happened, as well as the impact of this development on contemporary thinking. 


To understand the extraordinary struggles of the early modern period, we’ll first have to understand the basic position and practices of the western Church toward heretics and non-believers as they were formulated in the first few centuries CE and as they were elaborated in the medieval period. We will then turn to the events and changed perspectives of the Reformation period. Finally, we will analyze the range of theoretical ideas about religious toleration proposed by European thinkers, and consider their practical implications. We’ll conclude with some reflections on the persistent problems that have arisen and still arise in the effort to achieve religious toleration, including recent issues particular to the multiculturalism experiment. 


The course, then, has a three-part structure:


Part 1: A survey of the late antique and medieval European background;

Part 2: A look at how new conditions in the Reformation period encouraged the emergence of ideas of religious toleration;

Part 3: A study of a variety of theoretical positions – then and (briefly) now.


You will take an exam after the first two segments of the course (together, 50% of the grade), and a final exam (30%). In addition, you will write a 3-5 page exercise (10%), and attendance and participation will be evaluated (10%).

J S 363 • The Book Of Job

38550 • Yoo, Philip
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM RLP 1.106
GC (also listed as CTI 375, MES 342, R S 361)
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Although widely known as the story of the innocent sufferer, the book of Job is far less known in its details. Scrutinizing the conventional view of a righteous and moral world order under the deity’s full control, the book of Job puts humans to the test as it addresses whether or not people can remain upright when aggrieved. The book of Job also puts the deity (God) to the test as it weighs the deity’s negligence in failing to deal properly with the wicked and the righteous. As a literary work composed in the the distant past, we will consider the book of Job's quality as ‘wisdom literature’ as we carefully examine the words, experiences, and actions of its characters as well as consider who, if anyone, had the knowledge to offer the “correct” explanation for God’s (in)actions. This course will also explore how the book of Job continues to speak to past and present thinkers who, through their very own experiences, grapple with the problem of evil and its continued presence in a world that is created and ordered by the deity, one who we want to be good.

J S 364 • Austn Jews Cvl Rghts Era-Wb

38565 • Seriff, Suzanne
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM • Internet
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Segregation protests, sit-ins, free love, flower power—Revolution was in the air on 1960’s college campuses—UT included. Where were the Jews? In/out? Right/Left? Greek/geek? Activist/Pacifist? Gay/Straight? White/Other? Students will learn the art of oral history and digital storytelling to uncover the untold tales of UT’s Jewish students in the Age of Aquarius.

J S 364 • Holocaust/Restitutn/Justice-Wb

38564 • Lustig, Jason
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM • Internet
GC (also listed as EUS 346, MES 343)
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J S 365D • Cultural Geographies Israel

38575 • Weinreb, Amelia
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:00PM RLP 0.126 • Hybrid/Blended
GC (also listed as ANT 322G, MES 341)
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This multidisciplinary, interactive, hybrid seminar is designed to foster conversation and creative projects about the cultural geography of Israel between upper-division students with interests in Jewish studies, Middle Eastern studies, anthropology, and geography. What makes this course unique is that it about 50% of the course is taught online from Israel by Dr. Amy Weinreb. To enhance absorption of course
texts, students will have the opportunity to virtually join the instructor in various locations in Israel throughout the semester using Zoom, and also GoPro technology. The aim is to bring Israel’s contemporary spaces, places and landscapes to life visually.