Spring 2020 Courses

Interdisciplinary Course

World Cultures of the Jews

CAS JS 100 (4 Credits)

Introduces students to the study of Judaism in its many forms, by exploring Jewish communities across the globe today, their different historical origins and cultural contexts, and strategies of preserving cohesion and transnational solidarity. BU Hub areas: IIC, GCI, TWC.

Sacred Texts and Comparative Traditions 


CAS JS 110 (4 Credits)

Systematic and historical introduction to doctrines, customs, literature, and movements of Judaism; biblical religion and literature; rabbinic life and thought; medieval mysticism and philosophy; modern movement and developments. BU Hub areas: HCO, GCI, CRT.

Holy City: Jerusalem in Time, Space and Imagination 

CAS JS 250 (4 Credits)

Transformation of an ordinary ancient city into the holy city of Jews, Christians, and Muslims; and development of modern Jerusalem, as shaped by British rule, Zionism, and Palestinian nationalism. Jerusalem’s past, present, and meanings considered through analyses of religious and secular rhetoric. BU Hub areas: AEX, IIC, CRT.

Dead Sea Scrolls

CAS JS 311 (4 Credits)

Examination of the ancient Hebrew documents discovered in the Judean desert. Their authorship; the theological significance of the Scrolls; their relations to Ancient Judaism and early Christianity; the controversy over their release and publication.

Jewish Literature and Thought

Inside/Outside: Jewish Diaspora in Literature 

CAS JS 136 (4 Credits)

How do changing notions of ethnicity and race, religion, and gender, as well as geographical place define Jewish family and community? Topics include immigration, diaspora, and national culture; patriotism, antisemitism, and multiculturalism; Jewish identities and gender; conversion, assimilation, and acculturation. BU Hub areas: AEX, GCI.


CAS RN 420/PH 409 (4 Credits)

A study of major aspects of the thought of Maimonides. Primary focus on the Guide of the Perplexed, with attention to its modern reception in works by Baruch Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, Leo Strauss, and others. BU Hub areas: PLM, OSC.

History and Holocaust

The Holocaust through Film

CAS JS 367  (4 Credits)

An examination of film using the Holocaust as its central topic. What are the political and cultural effects when genocide is represented through film? Can feature films portray history, and if so, what are the consequences for an informed society? BU Hub areas: HCO, GCI, WIN.

Religion, Community, and Culture in Medieval Spain

CAS JS 455  (4 Credits)

Interactions between Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Europe’s most religiously diverse region — from the establishment of an Islamic al-Andalus in 711 CE to the final Christian “reconquest” of the peninsula and expulsion of the Jews in 1492 CE.

Primo Levi Within Holocaust Studies

CAS LI 459  (4 Credits)

Levi’s writings employ scientific, literary, ethical, theological and philosophical approaches to the Holocaust. An examination of Levi’s works both within the context of other writers such as Elie Wiesel, and within the practice of Holocaust testimony, ethics and witnessing. BU Hub areas: HCO ETR.

Topics in Jewish Studies: Jews in Modern Culture

CAS JS 499/CAS HI 550 (4 Credits)

Examines the role and impact of Jews as producers and brokers of modern culture, with focus on fields ranging from psychoanalysis to movies. Considers whether Jews‘ cultural activities were distinctive and, if so, how and why.

Contemporary Jewish Societies and Cultures, incl. Israel Studies

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 

CAS JS 286 (4 Credits)

History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, analysis of conflicting narratives through primary sources and film. Students present their own reflections on the conflict and debate possibilities of resolution. Counts toward majors and minors in History, International Relations, Middle East & North Africa Studies, and Jewish Studies. BU Hub areas: HCO, GCI.

Israeli Culture Through Media

CAS JS 380 (4 Credits)

An advanced Hebrew language course, which uses as its “textbook” Israeli newspapers, television, and online news media. Students follow current events in Israel (politics, business, sports, etc.); compare coverage in diverse outlets; speak and write knowledgeably about Israeli society.

Israeli Constitutional Law in Comparative Perspective 

CAS PO 530/LAW JD 993 (4 Credits)

The seminar will explore American and Israeli constitutional and political design through a comparative lens. It will use constitutional design and fundamental constitutional principles obtaining in the U.S.A. as a platform against which Israel’s constitutional system will be compared and examined. Students will get an understanding of different approaches to the implementation of political power in democratic regimes and be encouraged to assess the costs and benefits of each system. Issues to be covered include constitutional design, national identity, separation of powers, judicial review and the rule of law, political and civil rights, immigration and citizenship, national security, establishment of religion and the right to free exercise of religion. 

Writing Seminars*

American Conversations: Jews and Blacks

CAS WR 151 (4 Credits)

The experiences of Jews and blacks have had a unique and at times intimate interrelationship in modern American culture. The appropriation of the Biblical story of Exodus from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement is just one prominent example. This interdisciplinary seminar will examine this interrelationship from the specific perspective of Jewish Americans. Classes will be integrated with a companion WR section focusing, in turn, on the African American experience. Students will collaborate across sections to both engage in critical conversations on the course material and on their writing as well as respond to and incorporate differing disciplinary perspectives in their research. Through these conversations, we will promote democratic dialog across differing Diasporas but within a shared American cultural experience. Texts, such as Philip Roth’s novel The Human Stain and Alan Crosland’s film The Jazz Singer, will be considered in their historical context and as potent examples of American religious studies. BU Hub areas: WRI, OSC, RIL.

 Zionism, Post-Zionism, and the Jewish State Idea

CAS WR 151 (4 Credits)

In this course, we will examine the intellectual and political history of Zionism in its many iterations and trace the development of its various streams during the pre-state and post-state periods.You will become familiar with many of the challenges—past, present, and future—inherent to the task of the creation and maintenance of a modern state grounded in ethnic nationalism established in territory previously inhabited by people of multiple religious, ethnic, and national identities. You will also examine the sources and evolution of Palestinian nationalism and pan-Arabism, and their impact on Zionist and post-Zionist ideas. Course materials include political tracts, maps, poetry, film, and primary source materials relevant to our course of study. BU Hub areas: WRI, OSC, RIL.


*Writing seminars do not count towards Jewish Studies Minor Requirements.