Jewish Studies is the study of the history, culture and religion of Jewish people, past and present, across the globe. The minor in Jewish Studies brings together faculty from a variety of academic disciplines who work closely with students to study and analyze topics related to Jews and Judaism in a variety of social and political contexts. Students may opt to study the Hebrew language to complement their understanding of Jewish history and culture. A minor in Jewish Studies provides a foundation to thrive in a variety of majors and/or Pathways.
Students completing a minor in Jewish Studies will:
Gain an overarching understanding of Jewish thought, customs and traditions;
Become familiar with different disciplinary approaches and interpretive frameworks;
Develop close reading skills through engagement with core Jewish texts;
Refine their ability to express themselves in writing.
The Jewish Studies minor can be combined with any major. There are no specific language requirements for Jewish Studies, however you can take one Hebrew course for credit toward the fulfillment of the minor. With the approval of the program director, courses completed at other institutions and study away courses may be counted toward the minor requirements.
An introduction to the long-existing monotheistic tradition of Judaism, its practitioners, and its identity. An overview of Jewish history, texts, traditions, practices, and beliefs.
FYS 107C Jewish Ideas
A historical survey from ancient times through today. Explore Jewish perspectives on philosophical topics such as theology, free will, and ethics; Philo, Mendelssohn and Spinoza.
HBR 101 Elementary Hebrew
Introduction to the fundamentals of classical Hebrew, developing facility in both biblical texts and modern spoken language.
GER 450 Geschichte des deutschen Films (History of German Film, taught in German)
A detailed survey of German film from the first moving pictures to the present, with emphasis on historical, political, and cultural contexts.
PHI 240 History of Zionist Thought
An examination of the Zionist idea from ancient times to the present. After exploring its Biblical roots and medieval forms, the course focuses on the past 150 years.
HIS 243 Difficult Past: German History 1850-2000
An examination of German history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries focusing on the uses and abuses of the study of the past. The nationalist narrative of German history, the centrality of Hitler, Nazism, and the Holocaust, and the nature of political and cultural division in the Cold War era.
People You Might Work With
Associate Professor of German Studies, Chair of the German Studies Department
Geoffrey Atherton's teaching interests range from beginning German through to senior seminars on the literature and culture of the 18th century as well as courses in English on such topics as Modernism and the city of Berlin and memory.
Henry B. Plant Professor of History, Director of the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA)
An historian of early modern Germany (1500-1800), Marc Forster's last fifteen years of research has focused on the development of Catholic identity, primarily in southern and western Germany.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FELLOW COORDINATOR, INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNER/DEVELOPER
Karolin Machtans's main research and teaching interests are 20th- and 21st-century German literature and film, post-1945 German history and culture, German-Turkish relations; Muslims in Germany; minorities in Germany; Holocaust studies and literary theory.
Frederick S. Paxton
Brigida Pacchiani Ardenghi Professor of History
Fred Paxton sees himself as both a humanist and a social scientist. He regularly teaches courses on European history from 200 A.D. to the present, early Islamic history from Muhammad to the Mongols, and History 101, "Big History: From the Big Bang to the Future of the Cosmos." Recent advanced courses have included New Approaches to World History, The Middle Ages in Big Historical Perspective: Northwestern Eureope and the American Southwest, 400-1400 A.D. and The Carolingian Age in Europe.
Professor of Philosophy
These days, Andrew Pessin has mostly been working on spreading the word – that philosophy can be accessible, useful, and even fun, in addition to being (of course) provocative and profound.
Sharon J. Portnoff
Elie Wiesel Professor of Judaic Studies
Among the courses Sharon Portnoff teaches are The Holocaust and Post-Holocaust Responses, Religious Ethics and Jewish Traditions. Portnoff's areas of research include Leo Strauss’ influence on Emil L. Fackenheim and Primo Levi’s use of Dante’s Commedia in If This is a Man. Portnoff also coordinates the Miriam Melrod Lecture in Judaic Studies and the Leah S. Rubin '32 Endowed Travel & Research Fund.
Though Larry Vogel teaches “core” courses in the history of philosophy (Ancient, modern, American, and 20th century continental thought) and ethics (both theoretical and applied), he takes special pleasure in creating seminars that build bridges between speculative questions and everyday moral issues, like: Tolerance, Intolerance and the Intolerable; Freedom of the Will and Moral Responsibility; Evil; and Moral Disagreement and Moral Truth.