Course code:



M - Intermediate

Class size limit:


Typically offered:

Upon occasion

 What does it mean to have or be a body? What makes a body “Jewish”? And what do bodies teach us about Judaism? Many people associate Judaism with belief in God and refer to Jews as the “People of the Book.” But spiritual pursuits such as belief and study are not the only markers of Jewish identity. Alongside and sometimes against these images of Jews and Judaism, the modern period produces an intense interest in Jewish bodies—physical, symbolic, and imagined—that contributes to what Judaism is and has been. In this course, we will explore how Jewish bodies, including the bodies of individuals, the body of God, and the body of the Nation, are imagined, constructed, and managed within and without Judaism in modern Europe, Israel, and the United States. We will also explore how our understandings of Judaism might change when we investigate representations of Jewish bodies with attention to race, gender, and sexuality. Although this course focuses on Jewish thought and culture, it is intended for any student interested in the relationships among embodiment and religion and culture in the modern period. This course is also intended as seminar primarily based on classroom discussion and participation. Although the main assignments are essay questions on assigned readings, students are encouraged to utilize alternative media applicable to their respective disciplines and to think creatively not only about the construction of bodies within texts but also the ways in which “actual” and “imagined” bodies inform texts. Evaluation is based on participation, short weekly assignments, and a final paper or project.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.