Current Courses - JEWISH STUDIES AT UC DAVIS

Spring 2022 Jewish Studies Courses

 

Undergraduate Courses 

GER 127: Major Writers in German: Franz Kafka
Instructor: Sven-Erik Rose
Units: 4
A&H, WC, WE
TR 1:40 - 3:00 PM

In this course we will explore one of the 20th century’s most brilliant, enigmatic, and influential prose writers, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), in the literary and historical context of early 20th-century Central Europe. Kafka wrote most of his works between 1912 and 1924 (though few were published during his lifetime), and we will be able to read most of them: his three novels, and his most important short fiction and parables. Our exploration of Kafka will be organized by major themes, such as Kafka's treatment of family relations; the nature of art and the role of the artist; the cultural and socio-political situation of European Jews; and the individual in modern bureaucratic society. Throughout, we will pay special attention to Kafka’s fascinating treatment—and derangement—of place and space, of which examples include: a mysterious court that has no official address but can appear seemingly anywhere; an unapproachable castle; and an America in which the Brooklyn Bridge stretches from New York City to Boston. All readings will be in English, and no previous background in literary studies or German is expected.

HIS 142B: Memory of the Holocaust
Instructor: David Biale
Units: 4
A&H, SS, WC, WE
TR 12:10 - 1:30 PM
This course deals with the myriad ways the memory of the Nazi genocide of the Jews has been constructed in the half century since the event.The goal of the course is to teach students how to analyze critically the way memory shapes and sometimes distorts our images of the past, especially when that past involves a collective trauma that may defy representation.The course is interdisciplinary in nature, involving varied texts from memoirs, literature, film, architecture and philosophy.

SOC 157: Social Conflict 
Instructor: Yael Teff-Seker
Units: 4
SS
MW 10:00 - 11:20 AM, MW 11:30 - 11:50 AM
The course introduces theories of inter-group and social conflict and applies them to cases in the USA and around the world (with Israel-Palestine as one of the key case studies). It focuses on topics from the fields of sociology, social psychology, and political sciences, and sub-fields such as game theory, alternative dispute resolution, and sustainability. The students will discuss issues of group identity, group relations, inter-group tensions, and conflict, and applying these theories and models on real-life cases. The course will end with a focus on practical solutions relating to inter-group contact, conflict resolution, reduction, and prevention, as well as inter-group cooperation. Students will engage in open and critical (respectful and evidence-based) discussion and analysis of inter-group tensions, culminating in an independent – yet guided - study of a specific case of their choosing for their final project. In addition to lectures, classes will include discussions, active-learning and experiential exercises, group work, simulations, and short academic writing workshops.

RST122: Studies in Biblical Texts - “God on Trial” 
Instructor: Eva Mroczek 
Units: 4
AH, WE
MWF 11:00 AM 11:50 AM
   If God exists, why is there evil in the world?
   Does everything really “happen for a reason”?
   What kind of God allows innocent people to suffer?
   Why would anybody worship such a God?
These are central questions for many religious thinkers. We begin with the Bible—the Book of Job and the Book of Lamentations—to explore how religious traditions have struggled with the problem of suffering and questioned divine justice. Job, who loses his whole family and is stricken with a painful disease, wishes he could put God on trial for persecuting him unfairly. The poets of Lamentations cry out in despair about the horror of war, afraid that the God they had trusted has become their enemy. We listen to the questioning, anger, and lament at the heart of the Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. We then learn how these texts are interpreted and rewritten in later times, including responses to suffering and injustice today in journalism, literature, and film.

Hebrew Language Courses 

HEB 003: Elementary Hebrew
Instructor: Itay Eisinger

A&H, OL, WC 
MTWF 10:00 - 10:50 AM, R 10:00 - 10:50 AM
Speaking, listening comprehension, reading and writing fundamentals of modern Hebrew.

HEB 023: Intermediate Modern Hebrew III
Instructor: Itay Eisinger
Units: 4
A&H, OL, WC 
MTWR 11:00 - 11:50 AM
Continued development of grammar, composition, language skills required for reading literary texts and conversing about contemporary topics at an advanced level. History of the Hebrew language. Further development of writing and translating skills.

Graduate Courses 

GER 297: Special Topics in German Literature: German-Jewish Modernity and Modernism
Instructor: Sven-Erik Rose
Units: 4
R 4:10 - 7:00 PM

The aim of this seminar is twofold: to survey key primary works of German-Jewish culture, with a special focus on how this corpus confronts and participates in questions of modernity and modernism, and also to provide a snapshot of the contemporary field of German-Jewish studies as reflected in significant monographs published in the last 5-10 years. Pursuing these dual aims, the course will balance primary works with, each week, the introduction and a chapter or two of a recent monograph by a literary scholar or a cultural historian working in German-Jewish studies. By studying key primary texts in tandem with contemporary scholarly approaches to them, this seminar will make students conversant with an array of German-Jewish authors, texts, and historical problematics while also illuminating a range of exciting methodological approaches, both theoretical and pragmatic: different ways to organize books around key questions or signifiers; ways of engaging with primary and secondary sources;  relationships to archives, and so forth. No matter the field in which you ultimately write your dissertation, exposure to these varied contemporary interventions in German-Jewish studies should—this is an aspiration of the course—model, and demystify, ways to pursue a book-length study. We will have occasion to speak by Zoom with some of the authors of the recent studies that we will be exploring.

In the course of the quarter, we will explore primary works and sources by writers, artists and thinkers including Hannah Arendt, Franz Kafka, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn, Leon Pinsker, Else Lasker-Schüler, Charlotte Salomon, Arthur Schnitzler, and Gershom Scholem. Problematics that we will engage with will include the role of mixed-sex dancing in the nineteenth-and early twentieth-century genre of Ghettogeschichten (ghetto tales), a middlebrow regional fiction genre that describes traditional Jewish life in central and eastern Europe; the dialectic of Jewish (in)visibility in the Weimar Republic; the early twentieth-century discourse of Jewish primitivism; German-Jewish Sephardism as reflected in German-Jewish historical novels; the role of German as a medium of Jewish nationalism; fraught tropes of love in German-Jewish cultural history; modernist prose written in Yiddish in Weimar Berlin; and Bible translations into German, in particular the translation that Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig began in 1925 and the translation by the pioneering Austrian-Jewish feminist Bertha Pappenheim of parts of the Tsene-Rene, the Yiddish-language so-called “women’s bible.” We will survey recent monographs by Darcy Buerkle, Marc Caplan, Elisabeth Gallas, Katja Garloff, Abigail Gillman, Sonia Gollance, Jonathan Skolnik, Scott Spector, Samuel Spinner, Marc Volovici, and Kerry Wallach.

REL 210: Ancient Mediterranean Religious Cultures - Gender and Sexuality in the Bible and its Reception
Instructor: Eva Mroczek 
Units: 4
M 2:10 - 5:00 PM
This class introduces students to concepts of gender and sexuality in the Hebrew Bible and its reception, with a focus on Jewish interpretive history. Issues may include femininity and masculinity, the body, divine gender, sexual behavior, sexual violence, symbolic or metaphorical uses of gender-related imagery, and the relationship between gender and suffering. Specific primary texts be selected according to student interests, but will include both narrative prose and poetry. The course will also serve as an orientation to the history of feminist approaches to the study of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish textual traditions. Students who read Hebrew at any level will have the opportunity to work with sources in the original; however, those who have not studied Hebrew but have an interest in biblical literature and its reception are also welcome.