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Robert Abzug, Director CLA 2.402, 305 E 23rd St B3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-475-6178

Course Descriptions

J S 304N • Jewish Civ: 1492 To Present

39365 • Bodian, Miriam
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 214
(also listed as EUS 306, HIS 306N, R S 313N)
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This is the second half of a two-semester survey of Jewish civilization, from the Second Temple period (c. 500 BCE) to the present. In broad strokes, the sequence will give students a conception of a Jewish culture and history that has preserved important continuities, but has also undergone transformations as its bearers migrated, encountered other cultures, and adapted to changing circumstances.


This segment of the two-semester sequence, which can be taken independently of the first, will deal with the period from 1492 (the year of the expulsion of the Jews of Spain) to the present. It will give students a grasp of major demographic shifts, the impact of the Reformation, the emergence of new attitudes to Jews, the breakdown of traditional authority and the trend toward secularization. It will deal with the following transformative events: the rise of eastern European Jewry, the spread of kabbalah (a form of mysticism), the entry of Jews into a capitalist economy, Hassidism, Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), emancipation, modern antisemitism, Zionism, Jews in the Muslim world, the rise American Jewry, the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The thematic core of the course will be the concepts of exile and return – their various meanings and interpretations as new historical contexts took shape.


Eli Barnavi, A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People: From the Time of the Patriarchs to the Present.

Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds., The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History.


First mid-term (25%), second mid-term (25%), final exam (50%).


J S 311 • Comparative Religious Ethics

39370 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BIO 301
(also listed as R S 306C)
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The aim of this course is to examine and contemplate ideas about right and wrong as they are expressed in different religious traditions.  We will use a case study approach to compare moral ideas related to: sexuality and gender, social justice, the environment, and violence.  In looking at these topics we will discuss a variety of issues such as homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment, just war, responses to the ecological crises, and the relationship of humans to the natural world.  The course will focus on comparison across four broad areas of religious practice: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Native American religions. 

J S 311 • The Rise Of Christianity

39380 • White, L. Michael
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm SAC 1.402
(also listed as C C 318, CTI 310, R S 318)
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This course is designed to acquaint students with the sources, issues, and methods in studying the development of the earliest Christian movement, primarily in  the New Testament period.  It will survey the development of the Christian movement, from its beginnings as a reforming sect within first century Judaism until it became a major cult in the Roman world, by looking at two intersecting sets of factors:  the world situation during the period of its origins and the forces which gave it its peculiar social and theological shape.  In particular, attention will be given to critical examination of the New Testament writings themselves, in order to "place" them in their proper historical context and to reconstruct some of the major phases and factors in the development of the movement.   In the light of this critical reconstruction, sociological and anthropological methods will be introduced into the historical discussion; topics will include: sociological formation and development of sectarian groups; gender, status, group dynamics, and boundary maintenance in diaspora communities; and the evolution of organizational structures in cultural contexts.    For the most part the primary sources for the course will be the New Testament writings themselves.  It will be necessary, therefore, for each student to have access to a good, modern version of the New Testament (and preferably the whole Bible, including the Apocrypha). For study purposes, comparison of different translations is encouraged.  The other course books (listed below) provide a guide to the early Christian writings and  the early history of the movement.   

J S 311 • Roots Religious Toleration

39385 • Bodian, Miriam
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WEL 2.256
(also listed as CTI 310, EUS 306, HIS 317N, R S 306)
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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 362 • Indep Rsch In Jewish Studies

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May be repeated for credit. Tutorially directed research in Jewish Studies. Prereq: Upper-division standing and consent of instructor.

J S 363 • Gendering The Old Testament

39395 • Hackett, Jo Ann
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm BEN 1.106
(also listed as MEL 321, MES 342, R S 353, WGS 340)
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What happens if you jettison the sweetly smiling, long-suffering, or dastardly evil biblical women we know from our youth and instead look at their stories through the modern lenses of feminism, sociology, anthropology, and women’s history? You will get a 21st-century picture of women’s motivations, women’s sources of power, women’s relationships with their men and their societies. Rather than exploring conventional religious/spiritual interpretations, we will nurture instead critical thinking and close readings of the stories of Ruth, Jezebel, Deborah, and many more.


To be determined.


Attendance 10%, Quizzes 50%, Oral report 10%, Final project 30%

J S 363 • Yiddish Drama And Film

Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 0.106
(also listed as C L 323, GSD 360)
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Course description coming soon.

J S 363 • Sacr/Sec Contemp Jewish Lit

39405 • Grumberg, Karen
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CAL 422
(also listed as C L 323, MEL 321, MES 342, R S 353)
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This course will examine contemporary Jewish literature from three different countries, the United States, France, and Israel. We will read well-known works by several major authors from each country. Does their work incorporate Judaism or Jewishness in any way – thematically, stylistically, methodologically? How does it interpret Jewishness, if at all? Do these works redefine the sacred? Do the American and French authors use language differently than their non-Jewish compatriots might in their writing? Does the territoriality of Hebrew, or the direct link between Hebrew and Judaism, affect the way Jewishness is represented in the Israeli works? Conversely, what is the role of the secular in these texts? We will consider these and other questions, taking into account not only nationality, but also gender, ethnicity, and generational differences.

Texts (Tentative)

(Subject to change) Course reader Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem (1983) Philip Roth, The Counterlife (1986) Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl (1989) “Annie Hall” (Woody Allen, 1977) – film Allegra Goodman, Kaaterskill Falls (1999) Albert Memmi, Pillar of Salt (1953) Albert Cohen, Book of My Mother (1954) Etgar Keret, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God (1994) Elisabeth Gille, Shadows of a Childhood (1996) “Little Jerusalem” (Karin Albou, 2005) film Shulamith Hareven, City of Many Days (1972) “Kadosh” (Amos Gitai, 1999) film Haim Be’er, Feathers (1979) Orly Castel-Bloom, Dolly City (1992)


Active participation - 20%, Quiz - 5%, Exam 1 - 15%, Exam 2 - 15%, Exam 3 - 15%, Final Exam - 30%

J S 364 • Germany Since Hitler

39415 • Crew, David
Meets MW 330pm-500pm GAR 2.128
(also listed as HIS 350L)
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This seminar will analyze the effects of Hitler’s dictatorship upon German society, politics, economy and culture. It will explore the consequences of defeat, occupation, the Cold War and the political division of Germany after 1945. It will also compare and contrast the history and development of East and West Germany in the years between 1949 and 1989. Finally, the course will examine some of the consequences and prospects created by the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the unification of East and West Germany in 1990.


(Books marked with * are available as electronic resources from the UT-Library system at no charge with your UT-EID. Please feel free to read these materials on-line if you prefer.)

*David F. Crew, editor, Nazism and German Society, 1933-1945(London and New York,1995)

Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz

*Edit Scheffer, Burned Bridge.How East and West Germany Made the Iron Curtain(Oxford, 2012)

Hanna Schissler,editor, The Miracle Years. A Cultural History of West Germany 1949-1968(Princeton,2001)

Katherine Pence and Paul Betts, editors, Socialist Modern.East German Everyday Culture and Politics(Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2008).

*David F. Crew, editor, Consuming Germany in the Cold War(Oxford and New York: Berg, 2003)

Peter  Schneider, The Wall Jumper. A Berlin Story (Chicago,1983)

We will also be working intensively with documents and images on this Website


This is a substantial writing component course. You will be required to write three critical essays (6-8 pages each) which analyze the problems posed by selected readings from the above assigned reading list (each of these three essays is worth  20% of your final grade). In addition, you are each required to give in-class reports on two different images from the Website, “German History in Documents and Images” . Each of these assignments counts for 10% of your final grade. Class attendance and participation count for 20 per cent of your final grade. I will be using the full range of +/- grades.

J S 364 • Jewish Histories Of Mid East

39425 • Sternfeld, Lior
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm BEN 1.108
(also listed as HIS 364G, MEL 321, MES 343)
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Jews have been part of Middle Eastern societies for thousands of years. They flourished at times, and endured hardships at others. They were part of every significant social and cultural transformation and the ever-evolving reality. Scholarship and conventional wisdoms often provide a problematic and ahistorical analysis that cemented reductive sentiments as History. Students will read and analyze primary sources and read critically secondary sources. We will delve into national historiographies and seek to find a nuanced narrative of Jewish histories of the region. We will also analyze popular culture products, such as documentaries, TV representations, and literature. One of the end results of the course will be creating an online wiki-style website that will be dedicated to Jewish histories of the Middle East. There will be a one-credit option for students to work with texts in Hebrew, Arabic or Persian. Texts Course packetGradingA 93-100, A- 90-92, B+ 87-89, B 83-86, B- 80-82, C+ 77-79, C 73-76, C- 70-72, D 60-69 F 0-59Class participation 25%, Website Entry Essay 25%= first draft: 10%, final draft: 15%, Presentation 10%, Final Paper (due at end of semester) 40%= proposal: 10%, paper: 30%

J S 364 • The Dead Sea Scrolls

39435 • Kaplan, Jonathan
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm PAR 101
(also listed as HIS 364G, MEL 321, MES 342, R S 353D)
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For almost seventy years, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has influenced significantly our understanding of Second Temple Judaism, the formation of the Bible, and the origins of the religious movements of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. This course presents an in-depth study of the Dead Sea Scrolls in order to understand better the development of law, interpretation, ritual, messianism, apocalypticism, and prayer in the late Second Temple period. This course will include discussion of the archaeology of the Qumran community, textual production and transmission in antiquity, scribal practices in antiquity, and pseudonymous authorship.


VanderKam, James C. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today. Revised Edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. Vermes, Geza. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. London: Penguin, 1998.


Class attendance and participation 10%; Quality of midterm examination 20%; Quality of final examination 30%; Quality of two “5 page papers“ 40%.

J S 364 • Intro To The Holocaust

39440 • Lichtenstein, Tatjana
Meets MW 430pm-600pm GAR 0.102
(also listed as EUS 346, HIS 362G, REE 335)
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Please note: “Introduction to the Holocaust” is an upper-division history course with an intensive reading and writing component.

This course on the Holocaust examines the mass killing of Jews and other victims in the context of Nazi Germany’s quest for race and space during World War II.  Using sources that illuminate victim experiences, perpetrator perspectives, and bystander responses, we investigate the Nazi racial state, the experiments in mass killing, the establishment of a systematic genocidal program, collaboration and complicity, resistance and rescue, as well as the memory of the Holocaust in western culture.


Doris Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (2nd edition)

Thomas Blatt, From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival

Jan T. Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

Marion Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany

Lianna Millu, Smoke over Birkenau

J. Noakes & G. Pridham, Nazism 1919-1945: A Documentary Reader vol. 3

Gitta Sereny, Into that Darkness: An Examination of Conscience


Attendance and Participation: 20%

Tests incl. final exam: 35%

Essays: 45%

J S 365 • Amer Jewish Material Cul

39450 • Seriff, Suzanne
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm SZB 524
(also listed as ANT 325L, R S 346)
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This course introduces students to a burgeoning field of American Jewish

cultural studies that deals with what cultural theorist Arjun Appadurai calls, “the

social value of things.” Focusing on the interplay between material culture and

Jewish identity, thought, and practice in contemporary America, the course

explores how Jews think about, work with, use, wear, display and “perform’

objects in the course of their everyday lives. This is not a course just on the

production of fine art by or about Jews, so much as it is about the everyday arts

of adornment, celebration, liturgy, spirituality, memorialization and identity and

the ways in which these various meanings are negotiated within distinct domains

of prayer, performance, entertainment and display. Borrowing from the central

concern of cultural commentator, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, we will pose the

question, "What does it mean to show?"—or in this case, “to show, Jewishly?” --

and explore the agency of display in a variety of American Jewish settings: in the

home, on the street, in houses of worship, on the body, in celebration and in

public displays such as museum exhibits, world’s fairs, festivals, and other

touristic attractions. We will look at how the everyday artifacts of American

Jewish life are made to "perform" their meanings for us by the very fact of being

consumed, collected, arranged, worn, addressed, touched, kissed, and carried,

and about the powerful messages conveyed not only by the objects themselves

but by the specific ways in which these objects are addressed and interacted

with. In examining the meaning and value of things in the context of religious

practice or cultural display students will have a chance to explore broader 

theoretical topics about what it means to be Jewish in a multi-cultural,

multinational, multi-denominational democracy such as the United States, as

seen through an exploration of issues of memory, sense of place, identity,

performativity, belief, and spirituality. Drawing from the fields of folklore, Jewish

studies, cultural studies, religious studies, literature, museum studies, film, and

photography, the course introduces students to the vibrancy and meanings of

Jewish material culture in American Jewish life and thought.

The course will emphasize the development of critical thinking skills and

cultural analysis. The class format will entail active, participatory, and

empowering ways of learning based on class discussion, class field trips, and

original oral historical and field-based research. The course is intentionally

designed to be student-centered. Students will be discussing and presenting

material during class sessions and interacting with one another and the instructor

on a regular basis. Students will also have the opportunity to participate directly

in the curatorial process of cultural representation, either through the planning

and/or implementation of their own exhibit, or a critical analysis of a particular

display of objects owned, made, collected, worn, displayed, used, venerated, and

symbolized in American Jewish culture.

J S 679HA • Honors Tutorial Course

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Supervised individual reading and research for one semester, followed by writing substantial honors thesis during the second semester. Restricted to Jewish Studies majors. Prereq: For 679HA, admission to the Jewish Studies Honors Programs, and for 679HB, Jewish Studies, 679HA.

J S 679HB • Honors Tutorial Course

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Supervised individual reading and research for one semester, followed by writing substantial honors thesis during the second semester. Restricted to Jewish Studies majors. Prereq: For 679HA, admission to the Jewish Studies Honors Programs, and for 679HB, Jewish Studies, 679HA.

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