Rich Building 104
|Dr. Eric L. Goldstein
Office: Callway N222
E-mail: egoldst [at] emory [dot] edu
Office hours: by appointment
This introductory level course offers an overview of the history of Jews and Judaism. It is appropriate for both Jewish Studies majors as a starting point for further study and for non-specialists who wish a general overview of the field. The course will explore Jewish life from the biblical period to the present, examining how the Jews have defined themselves socially and politically in a number of historical and geographical settings, how Jewish theology and religious practice have been shaped and transformed, and how Jews have interacted with and responded to the societies in which they have lived. In achieving these goals, special emphasis will be placed on the use of primary texts-original documents that will allow students to develop their skills at hands-on historical analysis. These documents will not only be employed as teaching tools in the weekly lectures, but will be the focus of regular discussion sessions where we will analyze the sources together in order to elucidate the major issues and trends of each historical period.
The following texts are available for purchase at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore:
• Raymond Scheindlin, A Short History of the Jewish People (MacMillan, 1998).
• Jacob R. Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World (Hebrew Union College Press, 1999).
• Jehuda Reinharz and Paul Mendes-Flohr, eds., The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 2011).
• TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures (Jewish Publication Society, 1985) – this is optional, as all Biblical passages will be available on line and linked to the syllabus.
• There will also be a few readings available through online reserve. You can access these simply by clicking on the links provided in the schedule of readings and lectures (see link below)
Attendance and Participation:
Class attendance is essential to a successful learning experience. Because we will be covering a large sweep of history in a relatively short time, and because the ability to identify trends at work in different periods of Jewish history is central to the course, absences can seriously impede your understanding of the material. As a result, students who are absent more than twice may find their grade affected. In addition, even when you are absent, you are responsible for making sure that all assignments are handed in to the professor by the due date, either through a friend or via e-mail. Finally, to get the most out of the course, active participation is expected. Remember: participation does not mean having all the “right” answers. A thoughtful observation or question can often help clarify a particularly difficult point for the class.
Readings and Assignments:
Be sure to complete the assigned readings before the appropriate class. In general, readings in the Scheindlin book will be assigned in preparation for lectures, while documents from the Marcus and Reinharz/Mendes-Flohr (JMW) readers will be assigned for both the lectures and discussion sessions. While you do not need to bring the Scheindlin book with you each time, you should bring Marcus and JMW with you on days when relevant documents will be discussed (the same goes for documents or articles assigned and posted online). Before each class session, students will receive a question that they are to answer in writing (one or two paragraphs; in some cases it just asks for a list, and you may simply provide bullet points, but they should be coherently written in sentence form, not just a few words). The paragraphs will be discussed in class and collected at random several time during the semester. Again, you are responsible for getting these assignments to the professor even if you are absent.
Exams and Grading:
There will be two tests (somewhat smaller than a typical midterm exam) during the semester and a final exam (see the course schedule for exact dates). The first test will focus on the ancient period in Jewish history and the second will focus on the medieval period. The final exam will focus in part on the modern period, but it will also ask you to make some comparisons between all of the various periods we have covered during the semester. Due to the limited time available to us in class, some of the tests and the exam may have take-home sections. The final grades for the course will be determined according to the following break-down:
• Attendance and class participation: 10%
• collected homework responses: 20%
• Tests and Exams: 70% (tests, 20% each; final exam, 30%)
All students are expected to abide by Emory University’s honor code, which prohibits all forms of academic dishonesty including cheating and plagiarism. Plagiarism means submitting material from a book, a website, or any other source without acknowledging that the words or the ideas are someone else’s. When in doubt about this matter, please ask the instructor to explain further, or consult the section of Emory’s Honor Code which explains what plagiarism is and how to avoid it (here is the link – see section called “APPENDIX I: THE USE OF SOURCES IN WRITING PAPERS IN EMORY COLLEGE“). We treat academic dishonesty as a serious offense and, in accordance with the policies of Emory College, will immediately report all violations of the honor code to the Honor Council.