Please note that room locations and courses are subject to change. Please see the Class Schedules for updates.
JDS199 UB Seminar: Modern Revolutions: Industrial, Political, Social
What are political revolutions? How have they changed our world? Evolution occurs by gradual small changes, revolution by radical changes. The Industrial Revolution wiped out the medieval world and its traditions, established standardization and commodification, accelerated time and compressed space through machines and technology. In its wake comes the prospect of widespread prosperity, political freedoms and democracy, and cultural enlightenment, which have inspired for all subsequent political revolutions, for and against. This course examines the American, French, Russian and Fascist revolutions to better understand how we have become who we are today.
JDS 202 Religion, Race, and Nation
Class # TBD
Religion, race, and nation are categories of identity to which we all relate in some way, but it is difficult to say just what, exactly they are—especially when, as for example in the case of Jewish identity, it is unclear where one ends and the other begins. Why do these categories—religion, race, nation—matter so much? How do we define and distinguish them? What do they mean? Where do they come from? How have they changed, across global and historical contexts? How are they implicated in questions of political power, social justice, and cultural representation? This lecture course gives students a foundation in the analytical tools necessary for asking and answering these and related questions, by drawing on theories and methods from the humanities as well as the social sciences. We will attend especially, but not exclusively, to two complex and related historical cases of religious, racial, and national identity from the 18th to the 21 st centuries: (1) Jewish identity in Germany and in the United States, and (2) Black identity in America. These cases will be examined separately as well as in their numerous intersections, parallels, and tensions. Our central text will be Exodus, a story from ancient Israel which has proven a powerful and controversial imaginative resource for both groups’ understandings of themselves and their ideas of justice in American, German, and global contexts
JDS 208 The Holocaust: History, Culture, and Memory
How did the Holocaust happen? How was the Final Solution developed and executed? How have victims, perpetrators, and bystanders written and re-written the accounts of what happened? And how do we remember this today? This course places the Holocaust in the broad context of Western history, thought, and culture by focusing on a variety of sources that include survivor testimonies, novels, and political theory. We will study classic texts such as Elie Wiesel's Night, Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, and Art Spiegelman's Maus. We will also view selected films, among them Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, and Alain Resnais' Night and Fog. This course is the same as HIS 294 and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.
JDS 216 The Origins of Ethics and Politics
The meaning of goodness and justice and their relation to the formation and purpose of political community determine the central theoretical-practical questions animating Western philosophers, theologians and political agents from the ancient world to today. What purpose does politics serve? What role do morality, virtue, justice and law play in the distribution and application of power? How do we know what is good and evil, right and wrong? Is there one standard that unites different value systems, and if not are all systems equally valid? These basic questions will be examined in light of classic texts of political thinking, from the ancient Greek philosophers (Plato and Aristotle) and the Bible, to modernity (Hobbes, Spinoza, Mill) and contemporary thought (Nietzsche, Schmitt, Levinas), to help understand today’s global world of multi-cultural states.
JDS 250 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
This course introduces students to the grammatical structure and vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew. It includes basic Biblical passages for students to translate into English and to analyze. The course has no prerequisites and is offered in English.
JDS284: Justice in Bibles, Law, and Philosophy
A comparative study of the relationship between justice, law, and society in pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Thought. This course is the same as RSP 284 and LAW 284, and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.
JDS313: World Religions
In what ways are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam religions—or something else? In this course, we will examine Judaism from Ethiopia to Iraq, Christianity from Nagasaki to Palestine, and Islam from Tehran to Los Angeles. Students will become familiar with the narratives, practices, and beliefs unique to these three religions. We will also explore the status and contributions of women within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and compare Jewish, Christian, and Muslim accounts of the end of times (eschatology). Students will develop a deeper understanding of these movements by delving into a wide range of sources including sacred texts, literature, travel journals, and films.
JDS329 Medieval Judaism
Class # 21873
Medieval Judaism is an exploration of Judaism as a minority religion living between the Crescent and Cross, the Islamic and Christian empires between the 9th to 16th centuries. We will explore the dual nature of the medieval period for Jews: part intellectual and cultural flourishing and part persecution and tragedy. Topics to be discussed include: the origins of anti-Semitism, the crusades, philosophy vs. mysticism, the Maimonidean controversy, Jewish-Christian dialogue and polemics, the inquisitions, marranos, responses to tragedy and the Renaissance. This course is the same as HIS 329 and RSP 329, and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.
JDS389 American Jewish Experience
Class # 21873
This course surveys the history and diversity of American Jewish experience from 1492 to 2024 through engagements with the cultural productions of, and about, American Jews, including but not limited to fiction, poetry, drama, film, and comics. In our lectures and discussions, we will pay special attention to the ways in which Jewishness intersects with and complicates other axes of social identity and difference such as gender, sexuality, race, and class.
JDS 402 Jewish Law in Development
Class # 22992
Historical, sociological, and legal concerns in early and later rabbinic literature; how Jewish life and thought relate to trends in legal interpretation though the centuries. This course is also combined with JDS 426 and cross listed with JDS526/ COL729/ LAW 761
JDS 402 Jewish Law in Development: Forgetting and Memory
Class # 23671
This course explores an inversion in relationships between forgetting and memory. A primary condition in ancient Greek and Hebraic texts, forgetting often emerges as elemental and memory only as a fight against the sway of forgetting. In the later literary, philosophical and legal texts, memory becomes the primary condition and forgetting reduced to memory failure or lack of memory. We will set the stage for tracing this inversion and its implications for modern relationships between forgetting and memory by reading Heidegger`s 1946 essay „On forgetting“ in the context of Heidegger’s critique of Western subjectivity and in a broader context of the critique of this critique in Alain de Libera as well as in the context of Carlo Ginzburg and Émile Benveniste analysis of the limits of testament, testimony and superstition. In this theoretical framework, we will read modern literary and philosophical texts on forgetting and memory (Hegel, Bergson, Blanchot, Freud) alongside with patristic and rabbinic texts in Late Antiquity in their receptions. This is combined with JDS 402 and cross listed with JDS 526 COL 729 LAW 761
JDS 526 Suicide, Revenge, or Gift: The Centrality of Sacrifice to Religious, Feminist, and Environmental Theory
Wednesdays 12:30- 3:10pm
What is it about sacrifice that has captured the imaginations of modern philosophers, theologians, and critical theorists? Rather than explain away the bizarre violence of animal sacrifice as an anachronistic vestige of ancient religious practice, modern thinkers have transformed sacrifice into the framework for organizing and reforming contemporary society. This course begins with a genealogy of critical theories of sacrifice, exploring how Frazer, Hubert and Mauss, Durkheim, and Freud reshaped the fields of religious studies, sociology, and psychoanalysis with their analyses of sacrifice. We then examine three constructive approaches, Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialist Fear and Trembling, to which Martin Buber responds in his Eclipse of God, and Moshe Halbertal’s recent On Sacrifice. The course concludes with a series of feminist and environmentalist critiques of the works surveyed in the first half of the course, analyzing how sacrifice has been invoked to justify patriarchy, matricide, and devastating environmental policies. By the conclusion of this course, students will be conversant in the layered history underlying contemporary invocations of sacrifice and will offer their own critical contributions to this body of scholarship. Readings James Frazer, The Golden Bough (1890) Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, Sacrifice: Its Nature and Function (Chicago: University Press, 1964) Emile Durkheim, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism (1939) J. Z. Smith, To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual (1987) Annette Y. Reed, “From Sacrifice to the Slaughterhouse: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on Meat, Ritual, and Civilization,” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 26:2 (May 2014): 111-158 * Jon. This course is combined with COL 526
JDS 526 Jewish Law in Development: Forgetting and Memory
This course explores an inversion in relationships between forgetting and memory. A primary condition in ancient Greek and Hebraic texts, forgetting often emerges as elemental and memory only as a fight against the sway of forgetting. In the later literary, philosophical and legal texts, memory becomes the primary condition and forgetting reduced to memory failure or lack of memory. We will set the stage for tracing this inversion and its implications for modern relationships between forgetting and memory by reading Heidegger`s 1946 essay „On forgetting“ in the context of Heidegger’s critique of Western subjectivity and in a broader context of the critique of this critique in Alain de Libera as well as in the context of Carlo Ginzburg and Émile Benveniste analysis of the limits of testament, testimony and superstition. In this theoretical framework, we will read modern literary and philosophical texts on forgetting and memory (Hegel, Bergson, Blanchot, Freud) alongside with patristic and rabbinic texts in Late Antiquity in their receptions. This course is cross listed with JDS 402 and JDS 426 and combined with COL 729 and LAW 761
HEB 102 Elementary Modern Hebrew 2
Monday Wednesday Friday
Hebrew 102 is the second part of the Elementary Hebrew course at UB. This course aims to further present students with the basis of Modern Israeli Hebrew and to assist them in developing the fundamental linguistic skills of Hebrew aural and reading comprehension, conversation and writing in a communicative approach. To supplement the course packet, enrichment activities ranging from traditional handouts to the use of new digital technology are incorporated in the course.