Course Archive

Courses offered Spring 2014

MWF 11:00-11:50 in CB 303 Professor Tikva Meroz-Aharoni

This course investigates selections from the Old and New Testaments in English as literary and cultural documents of great significance and literary achievement. Emphasis is on the careful analysis of literary forms and themes within a broadly historical and non-denominational context. This particular section of ENG 271 will look at contemporary Hebrew cultural texts that use the Old and New Testaments as inspiration. Many writers use images, metaphors, characters, expression, and incidents from ancient sources as literary devices. Not only will we analyze the modern, but we will also study the source material itself such as the Akedah and Biblical heroes (e.g. Abel , Saul, and Rachel). We will reference religious cultural productions such as plays, short stories, poems, works of art, and films that may be read in light of a literary understanding of the biblical texts they rely on. We will use works written by scholars such as Robert Alter and Meir Sternberg.  ENG Module Credit will be given for the Spring 2014 section of ENG 271 upon petition. Contact the ENG Director of Undergraduate Studies for details.

TR 11-12:15 in CB 336 Professor Sophie Roberts

This course is broad overview of the major developments in modern Jewish history and thus focuses on issues of nationality, citizenship, and emancipation.  It therefore begins in the late 18th century and concludes with the establishment of the state of Israel.  This course will examine key events, personalities, and transformations over this time period.  Using a combination of general readings, as well as primary sources, we will study the complicated identities of Jews in the modern era who dealt with multiple allegiances and the contrasting pulls of modernity and tradition.  Using citizenship and national allegiance as a central theme for the course, we will survey the way in which Jews dealt with competing identities: that of citizen and Jew.  Such concepts of identity will come into focus again during the turbulent 20th century, during such dramatic experiences as the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel. 

TR 2-3:15 in OT 09 Professor Jeremy Popkin

This course will attempt to help students understand the events that resulted in the virtual destruction of Europe's Jews during the Second World War.  Through this case study, we will try to understand some of the features of the phenomenon of genocide.  Readings, discussion, and audio-visual materials will cover topics including the history of anti-semitism, the ways in which Nazi policy against the Jews was implemented, the various Jewish reactions to Nazi policy, including Jewish resistance, and the response of non-Jews and of other governments to the Holocaust.

HIS 595-001/650-005:  Christian-Jewish Relations in Late Antiquity
W 3:30-6:00 in OT 1745 Professor David Olster

This course examines the theological, social and (ultimately) political relations between Jews and Christians from St. Paul to the Arab invasions in the seventh century.  It begins with the “separation” theology of Paul that created and legitimated a gentile church and ends with the first, official imperial forced baptisms in the seventh century.  It will consider the themes of identity, race/ethnicity, the theological contest to capture ownership of the Old Testament, and the consequences of the integration of the church into the imperial bureaucracy after Constantine for Jewish-Christian relations.

MTWR 9-9:50 in CB 306 Professor Tikva Meroz-Aharoni

Second part of Elementary Hebrew with coverage of Hebrew grammar designed to prepare students to use Hebrew for their particular needs and programs. Prereq: HJS 101 or RAE 130 or consent of instructor.

TR 9:30-10:45 in 201 Commonwealth House (Gaines Center) Professor Oliver N. Leaman

This course will examine the links between the religions of Islam and Judaism, between Islamic and Jewish thought, and between Jews and Muslims both today and in the past.

Islam developed in a world already formed into Jewish and Christian communities, and the links between Islam and Judaism remained close for the first few centuries in which Islam came to dominate much of the world. As Islam grew it came to take up a variety of attitudes to Judaism, sometimes fairly friendly and sometimes hostile, and the Qur'an itself has definite views on Judaism and its followers. Many of the same prophets seem to occur in both the Torah and in the Qur'an, but since they are described in very different ways it is not obvious that these are really the same people. Nor should it be taken for granted that the same concept of God has a place in both Islam and Judaism. These and other comparative issues will be dealt with in the course.

Jewish thought developed in an Islamic milieu and achieved great stature within that cultural world, culminating in the thought of Moses Maimonides and his many followers, together with the development of Jewish Averroism based on the thought of Ibn Rushd and its role in the European Enlightenment. An account will be provided of the development of Jewish thought within the context of Islamic culture, and it will be argued that the two religions are mutually linked in terms of their leading thinkers.

In modern times the two religions have pulled apart, with Islam often coming to represent the Other for Jews and vice versa. With the development of Zionism and the State of Israel relations between Jews and Muslims have become particularly strained on occasion, and and it has been widely argued that a specific form of anti-Semitism has become popular in the Islamic world. Jews have largely been excluded from much of the Islamic world and where communities survive they are often under a good deal of pressure. Jewish/Muslim encounters have become particularly difficult in such an environment, and a variety of ways of exploring the contemporary relationship will be explored and discussed.

WRD 205: INTERMEDIATE WRITING: Introduction to the Jewish Graphic Novel
TR 12:30-1:45 in EH 306 Professor Janice W. Fernheimer

This course provides an introduction to graphic novels and Jewish culture by focusing on Jewish-authored graphic novels on “Jewish” subjects. Students will learn about the creation of the graphic novel genre, its specific rhetorical affordances combining visuals and text in sequence, and how it came to be associated with Jews, Jewish culture, and “Jewish writing.”  After tracing the genre’s historical origins, we will read and analyze key works by pioneers Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman as well as texts by Jewish American artists and Jewish cartoonists working in Hebrew and French (note: all reading will be in English). Student work will focus on writing both traditional academic analyses and producing graphic criticism/graphic narrative responses.  Course readings will include a selection of the following: Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, Will Eisner’s The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Joan Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat I and II, JT Waldman’s Megillat Esther, Miriam Katin’s We are on Our Own, Ben Katchor’s The Jew of New York, James Sturm’s  America: God, Gold, and Golems Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and II, Miriam Libicki’s Jobnik!, Sarah Glidden’s How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.  WRD/ENG 205 Graduation Writing Requirement Course - Credit is awarded to students meeting the GWR prerequisites.

Courses offered Fall 2013
UK 300-003: Introduction to Yiddish
Professor Raphael Finkel
MWF 11-12
Ralph G Anderson-Rm.203
This course introduces Yiddish as a living language. You will gain some proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. There are no formal prerequisites, but knowledge of Hebrew, Polish, Russian, and German is certainly helpful, because Yiddish is a West Germanic language, written with a modified Hebrew alphabet (although we will start with Romanized writing) and has significant vocabulary borrowed from Slavic languages.
HJS 101: Elementary Hebrew I
Professor Tikva Meroz-Aharoni
MWF 9-9:50; R 9:30-10:20
MWF Whitehall Classroom Building Room 242; R meeting room TBD
Come participate in an ancient language reborn. We will start at the beginning (Aleph) and proceed with the goal of your being able to read, write, and converse in basic Modern Hebrew.  During the course, we will make note of some interesting relationships between Biblical Hebrew, Modern Hebrew and surprisingly, English.  
Hebrew is more than a collection of random sounds; it is a key to an understanding of contemporary Israeli culture. And this is your first step.
ENG 205.003: Writing Lexington’s (Jewish and Arab) Past

TR 12:30-1:45

Did you know that the University of Kentucky was home to a Jewish Fraternity (Zeta Beta Tau) and Jewish sorority (Phi Sigma Sigma) in the early part of the 20th century? Did you know that Lexington once had a Christian Arab female mayor? Did you that at one point, most of Lexington’s downtown was populated by Jewish-owned shops? Did you know that the Burger Shake, the first fast food restaurant in Lexington is owned by Arab-Americans ? Did you know that the Lexington cemetery has a special section dedicated to Jewish burials? Students in this class will learn about these and other aspects of Lexington’s Jewish and Arab heritage. They will explore the multi-ethnic fabric of Lexington’s, past, present, They will explore the multi-ethnic fabric of Lexington’s, past, present, and future by working directly with oral histories in University of Kentucky’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History and primary materials in UK’s Special Collections libraries. Students will index and curate materials in the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History using OHMS, rhetorically analyze oral histories of ethnic Lexington community members, present their research to their peers, and construct a multi-page “tour” of KY using History and video to share these valuable cultural resources with the public.

HJS 324/HIS 352-001: Jewish Thought & Culture I
TR 11:00-12:15
Whitehall Classroom Building Room 247

Like most religions, Judaism mythologizes its past in order to present itself as constant and unchanging.  On the contrary, the Hebrew tribes that invaded Palestine and ultimately founded kingdoms there were barbaric and polytheistic and this course begins with the progress of these tribes as they created a polity and a identity.  It explores the evolution of a legitimating text – generally called the Old Testament – that went through numerous revisions and was not completed until after the kingdoms’ fall.  And, we analyze the political and cultural traumas that shifted Hebraic polytheism into what we today call Jewish monotheism.  Thereafter, we follow how a Jewish identity slowly emerged, but only through contact with and under the influence of dominant cultures like the Persian, Greek and Roman.  Ultimately, the interplay of Judaism and its surrounding cultures led to the emergence of one rather influential Jewish messianic movement, the Jesus movement, and the final part of the class follows the competition between Judaism and emerging Christianity for converts (or adherents) in the Mediterranean world.  Finally, we conclude with Judaism’s failure as a proselytizing religion and its inward turn that created another critical text that defined Jews and Judaism for the next millennium and a half, and for many Jews, even until today, the Talmud.

HJS 425/HIS 353-001: Jews, Citizenship, and Europe’s Others: 
The Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion
TR 12:30-1:45
Room TBD
This course examines the politics of inclusion and exclusion in Western Europe.  It focuses primarily on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries but begins its examination of the development of the concept of citizen in the revolutionary period of the emancipation of Jews.  By comparatively studying the experiences of certain internal outsiders, such as Jews, women, homosexuals, Roma/Gypsies, and colonial subjects, this course probes the meanings of citizenship in Modern Europe.  How were certain groups included into civil society while others remain on the outskirts?  How did excluded groups fight for rights within society when they were considered non-citizens?  How have concepts of citizenship, exclusivity, and diversity changed, developed, deteriorated, or improved over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century and shaped the landscape of human rights in the modern era?
HJS 425-003: Modern Hebrew Literature and Film
Professor Tikva Meroz-Aharoni
MWF 11-11:50
Patterson Office Tower Room 03
Israeli cinema has now achieved worldwide acclaim with movies such as Beaufort biased on the book “Is there a Garden of Eden” By Ron Lasham. While critics describe literature and cinema as two distinct arts that speak two different languages, Israeli movie directors often look to the rich Hebrew literature as a source for their scripts. We will therefore, study the original text and then see how the director used it to create his own version. Selected will include works by major Israeli writers who depict Israeli society and culture from 1948 to present day.
Courses offered Fall 2012

HJS 324: Jewish Thought and Culture I
TR 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

TR 9:30 am - 10:45 am

TR 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

Courses offered Spring 2013

HJS 325: Jewish Thought and Culture II

After a brief introduction to medieval Jewish life in both Christian and Muslim communities, this course will examine the formation of modern Jewish civilization. The expulsion of Jews from Iberia led to a reorganization of Jewish communities and Jewish life across the globe. At the same time, Jewish religion, intellectual life, and culture were changing in other ways as well. These ranged from new forms of religious expression, new ideas about the role of tradition in Jewish ritual life, and new perceptions of the place of Jews in the broader political, economic, and social worlds. We'll address issues like messianic movements, the rise of Hasidism, the Reform movement, the role of Jews in modern Christian and Muslim states, anti-Semitism, Zionism, the Holocaust, and the formation of the state of Israel. There will also be a film series running concurrently with this course.

HJS 425: Topics in Judaic Studies: Rhetoric Between Athens and Jerusalem


Rhetoric is a powerful, architechtonic art that often gets maligned in colloquial English by its association with “bullshit” or empty speech.  Yet the tenets of rhetorical theory have allowed for both the analysis and production of powerful symbolic texts for thousands of years. In this course we will investigate the history of rhetoric in Ancient Greece and Israel to explore the productive space between Greco-Roman and Jewish rhetorical traditions. We will also learn about contemporary debates in rhetorical historiography as well as contrastive and comparative approaches to studies in rhetorical history and theory. 

HIS 323: The Holocaust

An in-depth historical exploration of one of the most horrendous crimes in history, the murder of six million Jews and millions of others during the Second World War. Students will examine the development of antisemitism in Western culture, the means the Nazis used to undertake the Final Solution, and Jewish experiences during the Holocaust. The course will conclude with an attempt to understand and make sense of the Holocaust in the post-Holocaust world.



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