MA course Engendering Judaism

Gender and Religion: Engendering the Study of Judaism

Course description:

According to scholar Miriam Peskowitz, "the Enlightenment fantasy of a universal human subject who is unified, seamless and coherent is both culturally pervasive and false". In it gender is identified with "natural" sex differences rather than a cultural product. In this course we will first introduce the concept of gender studies. We will next examine the ways in which the field of Jewish Studies (like most other fields of study) has long been situated in an engendered discourse including the construction of categories and practices for envisioning sexual difference in the Jewish past. These categories will be subjected to criticism and new ways of looking at Jewish texts (mystical, philosophical, historical/religious) discussed.

 

Jewish Marriage Contract

Course objectives:

In depth study of several important cultural fields of the Jewish tradition (religious practice, philosophy, mysticism/spirituality, politics) highlighting gender questions from different angles. It will be shown that these fields are not only illustrative for the Jewish tradition, but for any gendered field of human culture.

 

Information:
prof. dr J. Frishman, J.Frishman@religion.leidenuniv.nl
dr H.W. Sneller, h.w.sneller@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Schedule

Week 1

8 February 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Frishman

 

Subject: Introduction to Gender Studies; Gender and Religion

Assignment: Laura Lee Downs, Writing Gender History (Hodder Arnold 2007), Introduction (pp. 1-8), ch. 1(pp. 9-19), ch. 5 (pp. 55-72), ch. 6 (pp. 73-87); Miriam Peskowitz, “Engendering Jewish Religious History”, in: Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt (eds.), Judaism since Gender (Routledge 1997), ch. 1 (pp. 17-39).

Week 2

15 February 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Frishman

Subject: Rabbinic Judaism: the Invention of the Jewish Man (and the Consequences for Women)

Assignment: Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct. The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man (University of California Press 1997), ch. 3 “Rabbis and their Pals” (pp. 127-150); Miriam Peskowitz, Spinning Fantasies: Rabbis, Gender and History (University of California Press 1997), ch. 1-3; *Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, ch. 4; *Miriam Peskowitz, Spinning Fantasies, remaining chapters.   

 

Week 3 22 February 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Frishman

Subject: Men, Women and the Covenant of Circumcision

Assignment: Shaye Cohen, Why Aren’t Jewish Women Circumcised? Gender and Covenant in Judaism (University of California Press 2005), ch. 5, “The Celebration of Manhood” (pp. 111-142) and ch. 7 “True Faith and the Exemption of Women” (pp. 174-190); Robin Judd, Contested Rituals. Circumcision, Kosher Butchering, and Jewish Political Life in Germany1843-1933 (Cornell University Press 2007), ch. 1 “The Circumcision Questions in the German Speaking Lands, 1843-1857” (pp. 21-57). * Shaye Cohen, Why Aren’t Jewish Women Circumcised?, ch. 4 & 6; * Robin Judd, Contested Rituals, ch. 2-3.   

 

Week 4

29 February 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Frishman

Subject: Muskeljudentum: Zionism and Gender

Assignment: Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, ch. 7, “The Colonial Drag: Zionism, Gender, and Mimicry” (pp. 271-312); *David Biale, “Zionism as an Erotic Revollution”, in: H. Eilberg-Schwartz (ed.), People of the Body. Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective (SUNY Press 1992), ch. 11 (pp. 283-308); *Sharon Gillerman, “Kraftmensch Siegmund Breitbart: Interpretationen des jüdischen Körpers”, in: Michael Brenner and Gideon Reuveni (eds), Emanzipation durch Muskelkraft. Juden und Sport in Europa (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2006) ch. 5 (pp. 68-80); *Lesley Hazleton, “Israeli Women: Three Myths”, in Susannah Heschel (ed.), On Being a Jewish Feminist (Schocken Books 1983) 65-87.

 

 

 

Week 5

7 March 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Frishman

Subject: Women and Religious Practice in Modernity: the Limitations of Tradition

 Assignment: Michael Meyer, “Women in Thought and Practice of the European Jewish Reform Movement”, in: Marion Kaplan and Deborah Dash Moore (eds.), Gender and Jewish History. The Modern Jewish Experience (Indiana University Press 2011), ch. 9 (pp. 139-157); Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai. Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (Harper & Row 1990) ch. 3 “Israel: Toward a New Concept of Community” (pp. 76-106) and ch. 4 “God: Reimaging the Unimaginable” (pp. 121-146); *Marion Kaplan, The Making of the Jewish Middle Class (Oxford University Press), Introduction (pp. 3-19) and ch. 2 (pp. 64-84); *Benjamin Maria Baader, Gender, Judaism and Bourgeois Culture in Germany, 1800-1870 (Indiana University Press 2006), pp. 99-133 & 184-211; *David Ellenson, “Berman Orthodox Rabbinical Writings on the Jewish Textual Education of Women”, in: Marion Kaplan and Deborah Dash Moore (eds.), Gender and Jewish History, ch. 10 (pp. 158-169).   

 

Week 6

14 March 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Frishman

 

Subject: Gender and Assimilation

Assignment: Paula Hyman, Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History. The Roles and Presentation of Women (University of Washington Press 1995), ch. 1 (pp. 10-49); *rest of the book.

  

21 March 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

 

Week 7 N.B. this week is scheduled instead of April 18th

Course instructor: Sneller

 

Subject: Philosophy: Engendered metaphysics

 

Assignment: Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (ed.), Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy (Indiana University Press 2004), chs. 7 & 2; *Spinoza, Ethica book I: appendix + book III: until proposition IV (included).

 

N.B. There will be no class on March 28 2012  

 

Week 8

April 4 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Sneller

 

Subject: Philosophy: Engendered ethics

 

Assignment: Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, chs. 8 & 3; *Spinoza, Ethica book V: until proposition X (included).   

 

Week 9

April 11 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Sneller

 

Subject: Philosophy: Engendered politics

 

Assignment: Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, chs. 9 & 4; *Karl Marx, ‘Zur Judenfrage’, in: Die Frühschriften, Hsg. S. Landshut, Stuttgart, Alfred Kröner Verlag, 1964, pp.171-207, zie: http://www.gutenberg2000.de/marx/schrift1/me01_347.htm

 

 

Week 10

April 25 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Sneller

 

Subject: Mysticism: Androgeneity

Assignment: Moshe Idel, Kabbalah and Eros (Yale University Press 2005), ch. 2; *Zohar, The Book of Splendor. Basic Readings from the Kabbalah. Ed. by Gershom Scholem, New York, Schocken Books, 1977 (1949), pp. 3-20 (several parts on Genesis)   

 

Week 11

May 2 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Sneller

 

Subject: Mysticism: Eros

Assignment: Moshe Idel, ch. 4; *Moshe Idel, Studies in Ecstatic Kabbalah, New York, SUNY, 1988, Ch. 7 (‘Hitbodedut as Concentration in Ecstatic Kabbalah’)   

 

Week 12

May 9 2012, 9-11 am, Eyckhof 2, room 004

Course instructor: Sneller

 

Subject: Mysticism: Cosmoeroticism

 

Assignment: Moshe Idel, ch. 5; *idem Conclusive Remarks and Appendix

 

 

  *Articles preceded by a * star serve as additional reading for the student who will be making a presentation on the subject of the week.

 

 

Assessment

Students will be graded on the basis of an oral presentation in class (35%), to be selected from one of the weekly topics to be discussed, and a final paper (65%).

 

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