Course Syllabus


Dr. Vial Office:  Iliff 109
Winter 2019 Phone: 303-765-3166
Office Hours:  by appointment E-mail:

Instructor: Ted Vial

Course Synopsis

The most basic categories we use to form our individual and collective identities are (re-) constructed at the beginning of modernity. Michel Foucault has claimed that sexuality is created in the early 19th century. I have argued that what we think of as religion takes shape at the same time. Leora Batnitzky argues that this is when Judaism becomes "a religion."  Isabel Hull argues that at this time gender becomes less a matter of social role and more a matter of personal essence. (Race and class, too, take shape at this time.) Are these phenomena connected? What does it mean to be female, to be a woman, to be a Jew? Are there specific forms of Jewish masculinity? Through a close reading of (mostly) primary texts by Jewish women from the 17th through the 21st (with focus on the 19th) centuries we will examine the intersection of gender, Judaism, and religion and the modern construction of these categories.

I will schedule a Zoom call with each student towards the end of Week 1, and we will have a group Zoom call (times to be established, we might have to do in 2 sub-groups) during Weeks 2, 5, and 9.

Fishbane, Michael, Judaism: Revelation and Traditions (HarperOne, 1987. ISBN 978-0-06-062655-6)

Glückel of Hameln, Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln, translated by Marvin Lowenthal (Shocken Books, 1977. ISBN 978-0-805-20572-5) (this is the only extant pre-modern Yiddish memoir by a woman--it is wonderful!)

Overview and Objectives


Course Summary:

Date Details Due