We have a great array of Jewish Studies courses on offer for fall 2022. For more information on Jewish Studies at Iowa – including late-breaking additions to our course list – please contact one of the co-directors of the Jewish Studies Network:

Fall 2022 Course Offerings

RELS:1040: Introduction to Hebrew Bible / Old Testament
History, religion, and thought of ancient Jews as recorded in their scripture.

RELS:2620: Politics, Sex, and the Bible
Click the course link to see an introductory video!
Even in a country in which the Separation of Church and State is a stated goal, it is impossible to completely separate the two. People frequently base their decisions and opinions upon their religious beliefs. However, the debate over exactly how the Bible should influence our culture and laws is not just one between Christian Believers and Atheists. On the contrary, many Christians disagree over exactly how the Bible should be interpreted and applied in any given case. This course will introduce students to the variety of biblical stances presented on major issues influencing our country and help them better understand how so many different positions can be based upon the Bible.

CLSA:2444 / RELS:2444: Cities of the Bible
Click the course link to see an introductory video!
For many, the cities of the Holy Land are known merely as the setting for the epic stories and heroic adventures detailed in the Bible. But what if each of these cities and the people who built and inhabited them actually contributed to the very composition of the Bible we know today? This asynchronous, online course provides a tour of key cities and their representative peoples that made the greatest impact on the composition of the Bible. Students will learn about the Phoenician cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos; the remains of Ugarit; the Assyrian center at Nineveh; the ancient powerhouse of Babylon; the strategic crossroads of Megiddo; the Greek intellectual centers of Athens and Alexandria; the Jewish capital in Jerusalem; Qumran and the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Jesus’s towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth; and the new center of Christianity in Rome. Along the way, students examine the intersection of archaeological sites, artifacts, and ancient texts, explaining how archaeology not only illuminates the Bible, but actually contributed to the very production of the Bible itself.

CLSA:3520 / RELS:3520: Religious Violence and Nationalism
Throughout history religious ideology has justified violent campaigns aimed at removing dangerous “Others.” From the Crusades, Reformation, and Colonialism to ISIS, China, United States, Myanmar, and India, nations or large groups have turned to religious beliefs or differences to support efforts to create or defend an idealized Promised Land. Over the past several decades, we have also seen a rise in this type of violent ideology among smaller sectarian groups, like Aum Shinrikyo, the Branch Davidians, Al Qaeda, Christian Identity Movements, and even Q-Anon. While religious ideology can and has been used throughout history to support humanitarian efforts, this course focuses on those whose ideology leads to violent rhetoric and confrontation as part of a larger quest to create a sacred homeland. Through analyzing many of the similarities that unite the ideologies of these groups, we can better understand the seeming proliferation of apocalyptic violence and nationalism throughout our modern world.

CLSA:4901 / RELS:4001: Biblical Hebrew 1
This is the first semester of a two semester course which will cover the basics of Biblical Hebrew grammar and syntax and provide an introduction to the Biblical lexicon. There will be extensive grammatical exercises, both in class and at home, as well as frequent opportunities to apply grammatical? and lexical knowledge to the Biblical text.

GRMN:2618/WLLC:2618: Film and Literature of the Holocaust
This course introduces students to the film and literature of the Holocaust. We will analyze the origins and development of historical and religious anti-Semitism, the role of Nazi propaganda, the state-sponsored attack on Jewish businesses, homes and bodies in 1938 (Reichspogromnacht), the establishment of ghettos and the concentration camp system across Europe and the role of ‘ordinary Germans’ in the Holocaust. We will examine documentary films—from the liberation of the camps (Nazi concentration camps) to later interview films (Lanzmann, Shoah) —as well as European and American feature films (Spielberg, Schindler’s List) and pay special attention to the function of testimony and witnessing (Renais, Night and Fog; Doron & Sinai, Numbered). We will also discuss representations of Auschwitz, the Auschwitz Sonderkommando revolt in literature and film (Nemes, Sons of Saul), survivor accounts and testimonials (e.g., Jean Améry, Primo Levi), Yiddish poetry written during the Holocaust (e.g., Abraham Sutzkever) and Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel MAUS. We will also examine how Germany remembers the Holocaust by analyzing recent constructions of memorials and museums.

HIST:1040:0001: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel
During this course we will examine relations between Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities in Palestine during the Ottoman and Mandate periods, and between Jewish groups and Arab-Israelis after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. After an introduction to ethnicity, nationality and religious identity from a theoretical perspective, we will focus on three groups of people: Ashkenazi Jews, Middle Eastern Jews, and Palestinian Arabs. Throughout the semester we will problematize these categories, highlighting the heterogeneity of these groups. Lectures will provide the historical and political background for our discussion of themes based on the readings, including Ottomanism in Palestine, Zionist-Arab relations, Middle Eastern Jews as intermediaries between Jews and Arabs, the "melting-pot" approach to immigrant absorption, the Arab population of Israel, the Sephardic/Mizrahi protest movements, and the question of "Arab-Jews." Toward the end of the semester we will also engage important contemporary issues in Arab-Israel relations, for example, the failure of the Peace Process and possible ways forward.

WLLC:3001:0EXH: Beginning Modern Hebrew

WLLC:3001:0EXY Beginning Yiddish I

WLLC:3005:0EXY Advanced Yiddish
The WLLC courses are a part of the BTAA CourseShare program, an opportunity for students from universities across the Big Ten to participate in courses together. Additional language courses may be available through BTAA CourseShare.
Students will attend class via a virtual classroom using ZOOM. Additionally, students will be expected to complete online assignments outside of regularly scheduled class-time. Students will access the course through the host university's Learning Management System (not through Iowa ICON).
The language courses are based on the academic calendar of the host institution. Please click the course listing for the dates.

If a student wishes to have any of these courses applied to their World Languages requirement, contact clasps@uiowa.edu for more information. All other questions can be directed to the Iowa CourseShare Coordinator jenna-miller@uiowa.edu.

Past Course Offerings

RELS:1430:0EXW: The Bible: Studies for Our Modern World (Jordan Smith)
Curious about what the Bible is or how it was created, the biblical character that your friends keep referencing, where ideas like Satan and the apocalypse come from, or how the Bible influences our world today? Introduction to the Bible and its influences on Western culture; course format organized by question types to allow flexibility in learning.

SJUS:2050 / GWSS:2050 / RELS:2250: Jews, Judaism, and Social Justice (Elizabeth Heineman)
Jewish frameworks for grappling with justice and ethics from ancient world to present day; emphasis on internal diversity of Jewish experience as well as interactions with dominant and other minority cultures.

RELS:2122: The Place of Animals in the Hebrew Bible (Jay Holstein)
Why the biblical God permits humans to eat other animals' flesh, fundamental dietary differences between humans and the beasts.

RELS:2620: Politics, Sex, and the Bible (Jordan Smith)
Examination and analysis of the role of the Bible in contemporary culture; how different groups can read the exact same passages yet reach different conclusions about how they and others should live.

GRMN:2620 / WLLC:2620: Anne Frank and Her Story (Kirsten Kumpf Baele)
Analysis of the Diary of Anne Frank, its media adaptations, and related materials (e.g., fictionalizations, additional first-hand accounts); examination of Holocaust in the Netherlands, Belgium, and other countries outside Germany; anti-Semitism, discrimination, tolerance, resistance, identity formation, human aspiration and belief.
Note two sections of this course will be offered at two different times: Anne Frank and Her Story Section 1 and ;Anne Frank and Her Story Section 2.

GRMN:2676: Politics/Memory: Holocaust-Genocide-9/11 (Elke Heckner)
How contested legacies of genocide, global violent conflict, and 9/11 continue to pose an urgent and generationally mediated challenge for critical politics of memory; various approaches to effective or failed coming-to-terms with injurious and difficult past (e.g., Holocaust, Armenian genocide); analysis of museums, sites of memory, and artwork.

RELS:2775:0EXW: The Bible and the Holocaust (Jay Holstein)
Religious and philosophic implications of the Holocaust viewed through survivors' writings.

HIST:4478: Holocaust in History and Memory (Elizabeth Heineman)
Origins and implementation of Holocaust; experience of perpetrators, victims, accomplices, and bystanders; impact of Holocaust on post-World War II world. Students will do original research with historical materials held in local archives as well as web-based resources.

Independent studies on Jewish Studies themes may also be available. Feel free to contact Prof. Ariel, Prof. Heineman, or a professor you’ve worked with for further information.