2021-2022 Edition

Academic Catalog

Center for Jewish Studies (CJST)

CJST150F Four Bar Mitzvahs and a Funeral: Being Young and Jewish in America (FYS)

How is the American Jewish experience viewed from the perspective of Jewish children and young adults? This course will discuss depictions of Jewish coming-of-age in American popular culture. We will examine various age groups--from elementary school to college; and through various art forms--literature, film, and television ("Are You There God? It's Me Margaret," "The Plot Against America," "An American Tail," "Wet Hot American Summer," "A Serious Man," "Superbad," "Booksmart," "Glee," "The O.C.," "Big Mouth," "Never Have I Ever," among others). Analyzing these works together will illuminate different facets of Jewish American life including immigration, assimilation, education, tradition, family, anti-Semitism, and more. They will also allow us to broach more universal questions surrounding representation, identity, and the complex relationship between popular culture and society.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Prereq: None

CJST151 What is Religion? JewBus, Museums, and the First Amendment

Why did the FBI assault the Branch Davidians' compound near Waco, Texas, thinking it was a cult, while those inside viewed the government as serving the anti-Christ? Can one be Buddhist and Jewish at the same time? Are museums religious spaces? Does secularism protect religion from the government or the government from religion? This class will introduce you to the ways in which we study religions by reading critical case studies, including those about Muslims debating the hijab, the treatment of sacred objects in museums, and freedom of religion court cases. This is not a survey of world religions, and once you've taken What is Religion?, you'll know why we don't teach that at Wes. You will also have a critical set of intellectual tools for understanding the role of religion in the contemporary world.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: RELI151
Prereq: None

CJST151F What is Religion? JewBus, Museums, and the First Amendment (FYS)

Why did the FBI assault the Branch Davidians' compound near Waco, Texas, thinking it was a cult, while those inside viewed the government as serving the anti-Christ? Can one be Buddhist and Jewish at the same time? Are museums religious spaces? Does secularism protect religion from the government or the government from religion? This class will introduce you to the ways in which we study religions by reading critical case studies, including those about Muslims debating the hijab, the treatment of sacred objects in museums, and freedom of religion court cases. This is not a survey of world religions, and once you've taken What is Religion?, you'll know why we don't teach that at Wes. You will also have a critical set of intellectual tools for understanding the role of religion in the contemporary world.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: RELI151F
Prereq: None

CJST203 Jews & Judaism: Race, Religion, Culture

What is a Jew? Are Jews white? Must a Jew believe in God? What is at stake when defining someone as a Jew? Using sources ranging from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary films, this course examines various facets of Jewish life, paying special attention to contesting definitions of Jewishness as race, religion, and culture. Building on a chronological discussion of Jewish history, we will ask theoretical questions such as the relation between gender and biblical interpretation, the relevance of religious law in contemporary society, and the challenges of diasporic thinking to national sovereignty.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: RELI203
Prereq: None

CJST214 Refugees & Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora

Recent years have seen the on-going tragic refugee crisis, with millions of people being displaced because of war and ecological disasters. That this crisis also has religious overtones is evident by the so-called travel ban in the United States or the rhetoric used by right wing leaders across Europe. This course deals with the meaning of refuge, exile, and diaspora through three perspectives: philosophical, historical, and literary. A variety of case studies--including the contemporary refugee crises in the Middle East, the black transatlantic, and the destruction of the temple in the Hebrew Bible--will raise for us various questions: What does it mean to be violently forced to leave one's home? How is it possible to make sense of such a tragedy? What creative power can diaspora muster to the rescue of culture? This course is a Service Learning course in cooperation with WESU 88.1 FM Middletown. Each student's final project will be a radio show based on an analysis of a selected refugee crisis. To learn more and listen to last year's shows visit https://reli213.site.wesleyan.edu.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: RELI213
Prereq: None

CJST216 Jesus Through Jewish Eyes

In this course, we explore the visual and textual representations of the vexed relation between Jews and Christians throughout history. Looking at the various ways in which Christianity and Judaism define themselves vis-à-vis the other allows us to understand what mechanisms of cultural appropriation, subversion, and hidden polemics are at work. Special attention will be given to the figure of Jesus as a point of artistic and theological contention. How do artistic representations change our understanding of religious themes? What is at stake for each religion in the encounter with the other? What are the political implications of theological debates? Is this dialogue needed, or even possible, in our post-secular age?
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: RELI216
Prereq: None

CJST222 Identity and Jewish Literature: Sexuality, Race, and Gender

What, if anything, is Jewish literature? What, if anything, does it tell us about the history of the people called Jews? This course explores those questions through a variety of sources from Jewish writers, including Sholem Aleichem, Cynthia Ozick, Franz Kafka, I.B. Singer, and others (flexible based on student interest). Through these readings, we will explore how Jewish literature relates to broader questions of sexuality, race, gender, colonialism, etc., as well as specific questions of Jewish history, like the Holocaust and the state of Israel. All works will be read in translation and no previous knowledge of Jewish studies or Judaism is required.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Identical With: RELI222, FGSS222
Prereq: None

CJST223 Israeli Women Filmmakers and the Israeli Society

Historically, women filmmakers account for only around seven percent of the films produced in Israel, reflecting the marginalization of the female voice in the local society, culture, and discourse. However, in the last decade, they have finally moved to the center stage to create some of our time's most successful and essential Israeli films. This course will discuss Israeli women's cinema from artistic and historical vantage points. Students will engage in critical thinking and use film theory and terminology to analyze the featured films, and to contextualize them in the broader context of Israeli history. This analysis will reveal recent shifts in Israeli society, including how women find their place in the army, how they fight the patriarchal religious institutions, and how they turn the Israeli His-tory into the Israeli Her-story. Furthermore, the course will touch on more universal questions on narrative structure, representation, and the male and the female gaze.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Prereq: None

CJST224 The Holocaust in Contemporary Popular Culture

How to describe the indescribable and to speak the unspeakable? Long after the end of World War II, filmmakers still grapple with these questions, and their answers vary ethically and aesthetically. This course will discuss depictions of the Holocaust in contemporary popular culture. We will touch on graphic novels, TV sketches, and social media, but mainly focus on film. While the time frame will be limited to mainly the last two decades, we will explore a vast range of texts including: Hollywood fare and East European art-house movies; gritty dramas and dark comedies; reenactments of real-life events and alternative history. From Hipster Hitler to the Jojo Rabbit, from "Inglorious Basterds" to "Son of Saul," what all these examples share is an artistic and thematic audacity. We will examine how they try to propose new and unsettling answers to old but ever-vital questions: How did the Holocaust happen and might it happen again?
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Prereq: None

CJST233F Holocaust Remembrance in Germany: The Third Generation (FYS)

Remembering the Nazi past is a fundamental aspect of postwar German culture. In this course, we will trace the Holocaust's aftermath in contemporary German literature and thought. We will pay close attention to the socio-cultural and historical-political changes in attempts to glean new meanings from a past that is both omnipresent and highly evanescent. It will be our particular concern to encounter versions of Jewish identity and attempts to prescribe different narratives. We will focus especially on contrasting the creative works of the immediate postwar period and "the third generation." These contemporary writers explore a historical trauma that has become an integral part of specific Jewish-German identity. At the same time, their temporal and personal distance to the actual events necessitates new imaginative approaches to the past. Careful readings of literary, theoretical, journalistic, and historical texts, as well as personal discussions will enable us to critically think about the challenges and limits of how to write about the Holocaust 70 years after it occurred, and how the difficulties in doing so might inform other kinds of writing about historical and personal trauma. Students need to read Olga Grjasnowa's "All Russians Love Birch Trees" prior to the start of the course. Students will have Zoom class discussions and intensive peer-feedback-driven writing practice.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-GRST
Identical With: GRST233F
Prereq: None

CJST234 Israel in Therapy: Society Under the Influence of TV Series

The course deals with the prototypes of the Israeli character as they appear in the original Israeli TV series In Treatment, and other Israeli TV series, such as Florentine and A Touch Away. We will compare the structure and the characters of the series to other dramatic Israeli series, examine the appearance of the characters, and discuss the similarities and differences between the roles they perform. In addition, we will examine the role of television drama series as a tool to define and characterize our societies, and also look over the five characters that appear in the first season of In Treatment, define them, and examine the five prototypes of the Israeli character they represent.

The instructor is the co-creator and head screenwriter of the original version of the TV series In Treatment as well as the Center for Jewish Studies distinguished Visiting Professor.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-CJST
Identical With: FILM311
Prereq: None

CJST234F Instances of Collective Memory (FYS)

Both history and fiction tell stories. They evaluate facts, construct contexts, and foreground patterns and associations--all using language as their primary tool. In this course, we will analyze key moments in the formation of collective and cultural memories in 20th-century history, philosophy, and literature. We will think about how individual memory and collective remembrance connect, how larger stories are built up from archives and personal stories, and how these narratives are shaped by changes in the world around them. We'll pay special attention to how the World Wars and the Cold War are memorialized and to the importance of these narratives to contemporary Jewish identity and remembrance in Germany, Israel, and the United States.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-WRCT
Identical With: WRCT117F, GRST234F
Prereq: None

CJST244 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

This course approaches the Hebrew Bible within its historical context while considering its literary, philosophical, and artistic legacy. Students will be exposed to the main historical strands of biblical criticism, while also engaging with the challenges of interpreting the Bible as modern readers: How and when did the Hebrew Bible come to be, and what relevance might it hold for us today? By beginning at the beginning and proceeding systematically through the Hebrew Bible, students will hone their skills as readers and interpreters of the Bible as a canon. Students will consider questions of the texts' function, universality, and authority, and will be encouraged to explore the wide range of biblical interpretations in literature, music, and the fine arts from antiquity to the present day.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: RELI201, MDST203, COL237, WLIT281
Prereq: None

CJST248 Designing Reality in Israeli Documentary Film

In the last decade, Israeli documentary films have crossed borders not just geographically but also by their form and style. They are bold, courageous and provocative. They have been participating in prestigious international film festivals, receiving important awards and mostly bringing the Israeli audience back to the cinema, having a crowd power like fiction films. So what makes Israeli documentary films a "hot property"? In this class we will look for the answers by watching and discussing 14 Israeli documentary films (among them "Paper Doll," "In Satmar Custody," "Presenting Princess Shaw," "No.17"). The course will raise questions about reality and the construction of reality in Israeli documentary films.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-CJST
Prereq: None

CJST249 From Black and White to Colors: Israeli Cinema, a Melting Pot Fragmented

The course will focus on Israeli cinema as a reflection of a society that was founded as a melting pot for all Jews and became sectorial. Israeli cinema originated as a tool for establishing a unified national identity evolved over the years into a means of expression for ethnically defined subcultures within society. During the course, the students will explore past and contemporary films and will follow the shift they represent in the current Israeli experience turning away from the original Zionist core into several isolated groups distinguished by ethnicity, traditions, and language. We will examine Moroccan, Persian, Georgian, Russian, Yiddish, Ethiopian, Arab, etc. films produced in Israel by local filmmakers digging deep into the experience of immigration, seclusion, rediscovering their roots, and even expressing yearnings to the countries of origin.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Prereq: None

CJST250 Eyes Wide Shut: The Eternal Presence of the Absent Arab in Israeli Cinema

The course will focus on contemporary Israeli cinema and how it reflects shifts in local society; mainly the ways in which a new national identity and culture are being forged at the expense of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--which is marginalized, repressed, sublimated, or left out altogether. As this concerns mainly the Hebrew-speaking cinema, we will also discuss the emergence of an unprecedented wave of Arab-speaking Israeli-Palestinian cinema, which is thematically groundbreaking. This introduction to the new generation of Israeli filmmakers, who differ dramatically from their predecessors, will help us better understand the ever-changing Israeli society. Watching closely, we will discover that the conflict is always present in the Israeli experience, even when is it seemingly absent. An optional CLAC course, which is conducted in Hebrew and carries a full credit, is offered to students with advanced Hebrew skills. The course will include visits from scholars in the field, watching movies in Hebrew and/or with Hebrew subtitles and students' presentations.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Prereq: None

CJST252 The Five Rachels: Jewish Women in Contemporary American Culture

The course will focus on five iconic contemporary female TV characters, actors, and creators; American, Jewish, and incidentally--or not--sharing the same name: Rachel. Rachel Green ("Friends"), Rachel Berry ("Glee"), Rachel Menken ("Mad Men"), and Rebecca Bunch ("Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"), played by Rachel Bloom, and Midge Maisel ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"), played by Rachel Brosnahan. These five complement each other and offer us a panoramic view of the American Jewish female experience: discrimination, inclusion, the generational gap, and their relationship with Israel. In addition, they allow us to explore the three most common stereotypes associated with the Jewish woman: the Jewish nose, the Jewish mother, and the Jewish American princess. We will discuss the conflicts and the societal shifts these characters embody, and how they define themselves, their Jewishness, their femininity, their unique surroundings, and place in history.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Identical With: RELI252
Prereq: None

CJST272 Ethics After the Holocaust

The philosopher Theodor Adorno declared, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." The Holocaust is a challenge to our understanding of modern society, ethics, and what it means to be human after Auschwitz. In this course, we will investigate how the Holocaust orients contemporary discussions on questions of guilt, forgiveness, and evil. What does it mean to remember, to forgive, and to forget? Can one ethically represent the Holocaust in art? We will explore these questions using various sources, including works by Hannah Arendt, Adorno, and Emmanuel Levinas, as well as museums, memorial sites, and cinematic representations.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: RELI272, GRST266
Prereq: None

CJST281 Political Fantasies of Zion

Palestine, Zion, Judah, the Promised Land. A small piece of land in the Middle East has a very long and contested history full of religious meaning for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Some imagine the State of Israel as an island--"the only democracy in the Middle East" or the only Western state in the region--surrounded by a hostile environment. The geographical area, by contrast, has often been portrayed as a crossroad, a place where cultures clashed, merged, and exchanged ideas.

In this class, we will examine this tension between a physical and imagined space, between political reality and idea, by recovering alternative Zionist, non-Zionist, and anti-Zionist visions of the Zion. Jewish statehood is a very recent phenomenon. Throughout the modern period, the vast majority of Jews lived under empires, whether Habsburg, French, Romanov, British, or Ottoman. How did the imperial experience shape Jewish religious and political views? What role does the imagination of Zion play in today's political context? Reading political pamphlets, poetry, maps, artworks, and utopian fiction, we will pay attention to the construction of the Zionist idea not just in political Zionism but also in contrasting visions including Canaanism, cultural Zionism, diaspora nationalism, a Jewish-Arab federation, a binational state, and the rejection of statehood as heresy. In the last part of the class, we will look at recent contemporary issues from the news, e.g., the agreements between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, or government corruption in Israel, in order to see how these ideas of Zion are still present in today's discourse.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-CHUM
Identical With: CHUM281, RELI281
Prereq: None

CJST319 Crisis, Creativity, and Modernity in the Weimar Republic, 1918--1933

Born in defeat and national bankruptcy; beset by disastrous inflation, unemployment, and frequent changes of government; and nearly toppled by coup attempts, the Weimar Republic (1918--1933) produced some of the most influential and enduring examples of modernism. Whether in music, theater, film, painting, photography, design, or architecture, the Weimar years marked an extraordinary explosion of artistic creativity. New approaches were likewise taken in the humanities, social sciences, psychology, medicine, science, and technology, and new ideas about sexuality, the body, and the role of women were introduced. Nevertheless, Weimar modernism was controversial and generated a backlash that caused forces on the political right to mobilize to ultimately bring down the republic. This advanced seminar explores these developments and seeks to understand them within their political, social, and economic contexts to allow for a deeper understanding of Weimar culture and its place within the longer-term historical trajectory of Germany and Europe. This perspective allows for an appreciation of the important links between Weimar modernism and Imperial Germany, as well as an awareness of some of the important continuities between the Weimar and Nazi years.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST319, GRST264
Prereq: None

CJST401 Individual Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

CJST402 Individual Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

CJST411 Group Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

CJST412 Group Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

CJST413 Israeli Cinema (CLAC 1.0)

This Hebrew course will be linked to the film course, taught in English, entitled CJST 250: Eyes Wide Shut: The Eternal Presence of the Absent Arab in Israeli Cinema. This course is targeted toward students with very advanced knowledge of the Hebrew language. Students will mostly view the same films as the parent class, with special attention to the Hebrew language. We will analyze, discuss, and write on each of the films. The focus of the course will be to map the cultural and social changes in Israeli society reflected in the transformation in format and themes of Israeli films. Scholar visits will be part of the course, and students will attend a few cultural enrichment activities. This course may be repeated for credit. This course is part of Wesleyan's Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) initiative; for more information, see https://www.wesleyan.edu/cgs/eventsprograms/clac/index.html.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-CJST, SBS-CJST
Identical With: CGST413, HEBR413
Prereq: None

CJST414 Israeli Cinema (CLAC 1.0)

This Hebrew course will be linked to the a parent film course, taught in English. This course is targeted toward students with very advanced knowledge of the Hebrew language. Students will mostly view the same films as the parent class, with special attention to the Hebrew language. We will analyze, discuss, and write on each of the films. The focus of the course will be to map the cultural and social changes in Israeli society reflected in the transformation in format and themes of Israeli films. Scholar visits will be part of the course, and students will attend cultural enrichment activities as part of the course curriculum. This course may be repeated for credit. This course is part of Wesleyan's Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) initiative; for more information, see https://www.wesleyan.edu/cgs/eventsprograms/clac/index.html.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-CJST
Identical With: CGST414, HEBR414
Prereq: None