4000 Level Courses

Note: Please note that not all courses below are offered in each academic session. Please refer to the current course offering schedule under "courses" tab to view the courses being offered in the current academic year.

AP/HEB 4000 6.0 Advanced Modern Hebrew, Level II

An intensive course designed to acquaint students with advanced aspects of Hebrew grammar, to improve their reading skills and their ability to express themselves fluently in conversation and in written form. Not open to native speakers who have completed Grade 9 in Israel.

PREREQUISITE: AP/HEB 3000 6.00 or equivalent.


Prior TO FALL 2009: Prerequisite: AS/HEB 3000 6.00 or equivalent. Course credit exclusion: AS/HEB 4000 6.00.

AP/HIST 4100 6.0 Selected Problems in Israelite History

Problems in the determination of the international relations of the Israelite states in the Iron Age. Sources, written and unwritten, from Israel, Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt and Israel's smaller neighbours will be examined in the course of these investigations.

This course is restricted to History, Classical Studies, Jewish Studies or Religious Studies Honours majors and minors who have successfully completed at least 84 credits.

PREREQUISITE: AP/HIST 2110 6.00 or AP/HIST 3100 6.00 or AP/HIST 3110 6.00 or by departmental permission.

COURSE CREDIT EXCLUSIONS: None. PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusion: AS/HIST 4100 6.00.

AP/HIST 4385 6.0 The Emperors' Jews: History and Culture of the Jews in Eastern Europe

This course begins with the medieval origins of the Jewish community of Poland- Lithuania and follows its history into the 20th century, focusing on the Jews in the Tsarist and Habsburg Empires and their successor states.


Prior TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusion: AS/HIST 4385 6.00.

AP/HUMA 4631 3.0 Nazi-Art Crime, Theft, Recovery, and Restitution

This seminar examines why, during the Nazi era, more than 5 million artworks illegally changed hands—a disproportionate number of them being works stolen from Jewish collectors—and how come it has been so challenging to restitute these pieces to their rightful owners. This course is divided into two parts: a study of the complex history of Nazi-art theft and its recovery from 1945 to the present, followed by classes that focus on six of history’s most important cases of Third-Reich looting and restitution.

Nazi-era art theft and restitution is an emerging field of study. Scholarly literature on the subject is found across various fields, including law, anthropology, criminology, international relations, and art history. It is one of the most important and highly discussed subjects in the art world as a result of media attention on cases including Austria’s 2004 return of Gustav Klimt’s famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I and the 2012 discovery of 1,285 unframed artworks found in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, works suspected to have been looted during the Second World War.

Media coverage of Nazi-era art theft and restitution has had a significant role in shaping the public perception of the subject. This course will look at the issue in a broader context: from an art historical, legal, cultural, and ethical viewpoint. Reading news coverage, critiquing films and comparing scholarly and popular representations of Nazi-era art theft and restitution is a productive way of opening up questions and studying the field.

No prerequisites but have at least 3rd year standing.

AP/HUMA 4750 3.0 M W Gender and Sexuality in Jewish Life

This course offers an exploration of distinctive Jewish approaches to questions of gender, sexuality, and the body, as formulated in their historical, religious, ethical and social dimensions. While we begin our journey with Biblical and other traditional sources, we focus most of our attention on contemporary encounters between gender/sexuality and Jewish life and the gendered nature of religious practice and religious authority. The course explores normative constructions of women's and men's societal and sexual roles in law and custom, and compares these to social realities.

Our analysis is situated within wider theoretical frameworks which include discussions of feminism, queer theory and social constructionism. The objective of the course is to use the theoretical categories of gender and sexuality as analytical tools to help us enrich our understanding of Judaism and Jewish life.

Particular topics include:

  • explorations around the inclusion/exclusion of women in Jewish religious life, both historically and in the contemporary period.
  • social and religious constructions of masculinity and femininity in a Jewish context
  • the relationship of gay/lesbian identities to Judaism and Jewish life; we document the variety of Jewish approaches to gay and lesbian realities and the changing nature of these encounters (this includes LGBT participation in synagogue ritual, Jewish marriage and Jewish communal life)
  • exploring the understudied area of transgender identities in Jewish life; we examine traditional Jewish sources which address this phenomenon and examine how transgender issues are playing out in contemporary Jewish life.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Religious Studies & Jewish Studies Majors and Minors.



AP/HUMA 4803 6.0A/AP/HIST 4225 6.0A Church, Mosque and Synagogue : Jews, Muslims and Christians in Medieval Spain

The Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula in 711 inaugurated a complex trireligious society that was to endure nearly eight hundred years (and more than eight centuries on the Muslim lunar calendar). This development has given rise to Spain's designation as a "land of three religions" and Spain's reputation as premodern western Europe's foremost "pluralist" society. It has also made Spain, as compared with other European lands, a hard country for non-Spaniards to understand.

This course seeks to explore diverse facets of Jewish-Muslim-Christian convivencia ("dwelling together"; coexistence), a topic that continues to be the object of attention for a range of scholars -- and many beyond the academy who have found it pertinent to an understanding of our own age. The course focusses on religious, intellectual, and cultural contacts and their sociopsychological dynamics, placing these in various historical and at times (very partial) geographic, linguistic, political, economic, and technological contexts.

The course centers on written sources but does not wholly neglect iconography, music, and architecture. It stresses diverse perspectives within and across religious boundaries and at times forces us to ponder difficulties faced by scholars seeking to explain religious or religiously-linked phenomena (e.g., what actual human experience lies behind the metaphor of "religious conversion"?). Methodologically, our enterprise emphasizes study of primary sources as the only way to arrive at a trustworthy model of convivencia. In the course of such study, attention is paid to peculiarities of genre, the frequent indeterminacy of evidence, and difficulties involved in formulating historical assessments.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Religious Studies and History Majors and Minors.

PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusions: AS/HUMA 4000V 6.00 (prior to Fall/Winter 2003-2004), AS/HUMA 4803 6.00.

AP/HUMA 4807 6.0A Maimonides

If there were not incontrovertible evidence that there was only one man named Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides or Rambam; 1138-1204), it would be tempting to think that there were two, or even more. Some of his works display an unrivalled mastery of rabbinic literature; others an amazing mastery of a totally unrelated field: Greek and Muslim philosophy. Maimonides was also an accomplished physician and a prolific writer on medical issues. And he was not a scholarly recluse, but rather an involved leader of the Jewish community of Egypt. He also provided compassionate advice to other Jewish communities far from his home. Maimonides was almost certainly the Jewish philosopher who had the greatest influence on the world of Christian, Muslim and Jewish philosophy.

In this course we will study selections from all of Maimonides' major works, but particularly from his code of Jewish law (Mishneh Torah) and his major philosophical work The Guide for the Perplexed. We will also study a number of the common scholarly theories about Maimonides, paying particular attention to the question of whether the esoteric reading of Maimonides (i.e. the reading that claims that Maimonides actually had a very radical agenda which he only hinted at in his works) is legitimate.

All readings in the course will be in English.

RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusions: AS/HUMA 4820D 6.00 (prior to Fall/Winter 2003-2004), AS/HUMA 4807 6.00.

AP/HUMA 4808 6.0A Sex and Violence in the Hebrew Bible

This course attempts a nuanced reading of texts dealing with sexuality and/or violence in the Hebrew Bible. The discussion focuses both on a contextual and on a contemporaneous reading of these texts.

COURSE DIRECTOR: Carl Ehrlich (on sabbatical July 2014-June 2015).

RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusions: AS/HUMA 4820E 6.00 (prior to Fall/Winter 2003-2004), AS/HUMA 4808 6.00.

AP/HUMA 4809 6.0 A Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Literature

Since the nineteenth century, it has become increasingly evident that the Hebrew Bible is a product of its world. The recovery and decipherment of literatures from Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt, and the Levant have provided ample illustration of this contention. The aim of this course is to look at some of the various literary genres and themes that can be found in both biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature. The comparison and contrasting of similar or related literary genres and themes should serve to deepen the students' understanding of the Hebrew Bible and its world, in addition to introducing students to the wealth of literature from the ancient Near East. Among the literary genres to be discussed are legal texts, myths, legends, prophetic texts, historical records, and religious and secular/erotic poetry. Among the themes to be discussed are creation, the human condition, flood stories, foundational narratives, love, sexuality, relations with the divine, responses to disaster, mortality, immortality, etc.

ASSIGNMENTS: Classroom participation 10%; In-class presentation 20%; Paper proposal (300 words) 10%; Annotated bibliography 10%; Paper outline 10%; Research paper 40%. (Subject to change.)

REPRESENTATIVE READINGS: Arnold, Bill T. and Bryan E. Beyer, eds., Reading from the Ancient Near East: Primary Sources for Old Testament Studies (Encountering Biblical Studies; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002); Course Kit HUMA 4809 6.0; Ehrlich, Carl S., ed., From an Antique Land: An Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern Literature (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009); Foster, Benjamin R., The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation, Analogues, Criticism (Norton & Company, 2001). (subject to change)

RESERVED SPACES: Spaces reserved for Humanities & Jewish Studies and Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusion: AS/HUMA 4809 6.0.

AP/HUMA 4818 3.0 Shaping Jewish Memory:Meaning, Imagination and Identity

This course explores how Jewish communities and individuals have remembered, interpreted and given meaning to the past to shape identity and values. It studies fiction, non-fiction, photographs, films, liturgy, and other vehicles of memory.
Course credit exclusion: AP/HUMA 4818 6.00.

PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusions: AS/HUMA 4818 6.00, AS/HUMA 4818 3.00.

AP/HUMA 4819 6.0 Visions of the end: Early Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism

This course investigates the origins, development and continuing legacies of apocalypticism in ancient Judaism and in the history of Christianity. We will focus on understanding: (1) apocalyptic literature (biblical and nonbiblical, including 1 Enoch, Daniel, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Revelation); (2) millennial movements; and (3) the apocalyptic worldview, which centers on the notion of God’s ultimate intervention in order to destroy evil and inaugurate an eternal perfect kingdom. We will spend some time looking at the legacies of apocalypticism for religious movements, popular culture (e.g. film), and artistic representation in late antiquity, the middle ages, and the modern world to the present day.

Students taking the course will come to understand important aspects of social and religious life in the ancient world (especially Second Temple Judaism and the Jesus movement) while also acquiring firsthand knowledge of a religious worldview that has come to play an important role in the history of Christianity and western civilization. Although analysis of literary evidence will be central, students will also acquire skills in analyzing visual materials (e.g. art and film).

A variety of assignments involving both written and oral communication will develop students’ ability to express themselves clearly and to engage in research in an academic manner. The course will be designed to encourage both interactive and self directed learning among these upper level students.


EVALUATION: Presentations / discussion leadership (20%); Participation (20%); Book review 1 (10%); Essay (15%); Proposal and bibliography for major paper (10%); Major research paper, 15-20 pages (25%).

READINGS: Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World To Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. 2nd edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001; John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998; Paul Boyer. When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 and Year 4 Humanities and Religious Studies Majors and Minors.



AP/HUMA 4820 3.0M W Transformation of Jewish Thought and Culture

The Middle Ages and early modern period saw important and influential intellectual and cultural innovations in a number of spheres. This course explores Jewish thought in its various forms, in light of larger cultural developments, over close to a millennium (800-1800), focusing on transformations of the classical (biblical-rabbinic) legacy and interplay with the Islamic and Christian religiocultural spheres in which they developed.

Topics and genres covered will include a number of the following (varying from year to year): scriptural interpretation, philosophy, poetry, inter-religious polemic, mysticism, and the writings of the great theologian and legal codifier, Moses Maimonides.

An overarching theme of the course is Jewish intellectual and literary encounters – adaptive, symbiotic, conflictual, and so forth -- with other cultures; i.e., with the larger Islamic and Christian milieus in which medieval and early modern Jewish scholars thought and wrote. In the case of, we will have to explore the emergence of Judeo-Arabic thought and culture within the larger intellectual and literary "Islamicate civilization" that helped to stimulate and shape it. The course concludes with a quick glance forward at Jewish thought and culture in light of the theological and scientific revolutions of the seventeenth century and transition to modern times.

RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Majors and Minors.

PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusion: AS/HUMA 4820 3.00.

AP/HUMA 4821 3.0 Culture, Society and Values in Israel

This course decodes aspects of culture, society and values in Israel through contemporary Israeli literature—mainly short stories and poems—seasoned lightly with visual art, artifact, film and cuisine. Texts will be read and discussed in English.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Jewish Studies Majors and Minors.

PRIOR TO FALL 2009: Course credit exclusion: AS/HUMA 4821 3.00.

AP/HUMA 4823 3.0 Contemporary Israeli Society

This course analyzes diverse themes of global relevance as they manifest themselves in the context of Israeli state and society.

RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Jewish Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4824 3.0 M W Imagining Anne Frank: The Girl, The Diary, the Afterlives

Almost seventy-five years ago, in June of 1942, Anne Frank penned her first entry into the red checkered diary that she had just received for her thirteenth birthday. By many estimates, Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, first published in 1947 and in English translation in 1952, and by now translated into over 70 languages, is the most widely read narrative to emerge from the Holocaust. Frank's Diary has engendered musical compositions, works of fine art, biography, fiction, poetry, dance and film. The web of meanings associated with it extends well beyond its historical context and the chronology of a young girl's life cut tragically short. Since its publication, the diary has drawn debate, attracting the attention of strong partisans who saw in it different messages and interpretations. The popularity of the diary has pulled Frank into public consciousness, making of her an icon, a figure bearing the meanings brought to the diary by her readers in their own cultural moments and contexts.

Focusing on the composition, history and reception of the diary and its adaptation to stage and screen, as well as the myriad literary responses which re-imagine Frank as a character, symbol, or referent. The course will explore issues of lifewriting, personal and collective memory, and interpretation of the past. Tracing the "afterlives" of Frank will provide a case study for addressing the broader question of how and why certain cultural works inspire attachment, fantasy, reinterpretation and rethinking.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Year 3 & 4 Humanities & Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4827 3.0 Graeco-Roman, Biblical, and Early Christian Concepts of the Soul

The notion of the survival of the self in some form preceded any attempt to define the soul and its functions. The idea of self derives from the fact of sensation and consciousness in all human beings. The term psyche, "soul", appears in Greek thought to express the inner person, the principle of life and movement, as well as the mind and its functions. Many early thinkers believed the soul to be a separate thing from the body and even capable of pre-existing the body and surviving its death. The notion of "innate ideas" was invoked to demonstrate that memory pre-existed an individual's present life. Conflicting theories of the after-life of the soul spanned a number of possibilities: total annihilation along with the body, transmigration of the soul to other bodies, or assignment to a place of eternal punishment or reward. Much speculation was devoted to how the soul was connected to the body, and opinions were divided as to whether the soul was corporeal or a kind of spiritual substance, i.e. without body. Western Christian thinkers challenged a number of early theories regarding the soul, substituting the notion of learning through recollection with divine illumination, and insisting on the goodness of the unity of body and soul - as opposed to the common notion that the body is the prison house of the soul, from which the good soul should desire to escape. Christians envisioned a body united (or reunited) with the soul in the afterlife. While some thinkers believed that the soul survived as only a part of cosmic consciousness, the vast majority affirmed the survival of an individual conscious self, whether as detached soul or as integrated body and soul.

Prerequisites: At least one Humanities or Philosophy course at 3000 or 4000 level
Course credit exclusions: None.