Course Syllabus


Dr. Vial Office:  Iliff 109
Fall 2020 Phone: 303-765-3166
Office Hours:  by appointment E-mail:

Instructor: Ted Vial


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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. Isabel Hull argues that at this time gender becomes less a matter of social role and more a matter of personal essence. 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."  (Race, class, and nationality also take shape at this time.) Are these phenomena connected? What does it mean to be female, to be a woman, to be a Jew? How are gender and religion constructed in modernity? 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.

Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, Judaisms: a Twenty-first century Guide to Jews and Jewish Identities (University of California Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0520281356). This book costs about $35 on Amazon. It is available for free as an e-book in Iliff's library.

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!)

Additional readings will be distributed via Canvas.

Paper Guidelines

Discussion Guidelines

Course Summary:

Date Details Due