Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies
https://jewishstudies.rice.edu/
120 Rayzor Hall
713-348-4512

Matthias Henze
Program Director
mhenze@rice.edu

Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary field that crosses traditional boundaries between academic fields and departments. Courses in Jewish Studies allow students to study Judaism as it has evolved from an ancient set of shared religious practices into the pluralistic religion and culture that it is today. In both the humanities and social sciences, Jewish Studies broadly examines the texts, history, languages, philosophy, literature, and culture of the Jewish people from the ancient to the modern. The study of Jewish life and culture provides an opportunity to explore the continuities and diversity of Judaism as it has been lived and practiced for over three millennia all over the world.

Diversity of thought is a hallmark of Jewish culture dating back to the earliest Jewish texts, and we strive to follow this model in our courses. The diverse and interdisciplinary nature of the Program in Jewish Studies allows undergraduates the opportunity to enrich their major fields of study with a specific focus on Judaism and Jewish culture. The Program in Jewish Studies at Rice also forms an important bridge to the community, making use of the rich resources available in Houston, engaging with local institutions, and participating in timely public discussions.

Jewish Studies does not currently offer an academic program at the graduate level. 

Director

Matthias Henze

Associate Director

Melissa Weininger

Professors

Matthias Henze
Michael R. Maas
Paula A. Sanders
Klaus H.M. Weissenberger
Diane Wolfthal

Associate Professors

G. Daniel Cohen
Gisela Heffes
Maya Soifer Irish
Susan Lurie
Astrid Oesmann
Brian Ogren

Lecturer

Melissa Weininger

Adjunct Lecturer

Joshua Furman

For Rice University degree-granting programs:
To view the list of official course offerings, please see Rice’s Course Catalog
To view the most recent semester’s course schedule, please see Rice's Course Schedule

Jewish Studies (JWST)

JWST 120 - ISRAEL: LANGUAGE AND CULTURE I

Short Title: ISRAEL: LANGUAGE AND CULTURE I

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Lecture

Distribution Group: Distribution Group I

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Lower-Level

Description: This course will combine a study of basic Hebrew vocabulary and grammar with literature, film, and popular culture from Israel. It will explore the history of Israel through a study of its culture and language, including poetry, songs, movies, and television.

JWST 121 - ISRAEL: LANGUAGE AND CULTURE II

Short Title: ISRAEL:LANGUAGE AND CULTURE II

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Seminar

Distribution Group: Distribution Group I

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Lower-Level

Description: This course is a continuation of JWST 120, but is open to any student who can read basic Hebrew. It will explore Israeli culture through literature, music, current events, and film.

JWST 201 - GREAT BOOKS OF JEWISH HISTORY AND CULTURE

Short Title: GREAT BOOKS OF JEWISH CULTURE

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Lecture

Distribution Group: Distribution Group I

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Lower-Level

Description: The Jewish people have often understood themselves as the “people of the book,” because of the Jewish tradition’s reliance on texts and textual study as a central component of religious culture and practice. This course will take the idea of the book as a starting point for a survey of Jewish history and culture. Spanning the biblical period to the present, we will read primary texts important to Jewish life and culture as well as scholarship from disciplines as varied as religion, history, anthropology, sociology, comparative literature, philosophy, and gender and sexuality studies. In doing so, we will learn about the varied communities that produced these texts; the languages they spoke and read; their particular religious and cultural practices; and how they have understood themselves in the context of other social and political communities over time, including in the ancient, medieval, and modern eras.

JWST 238 - SPECIAL TOPICS

Short Title: SPECIAL TOPICS

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Internship/Practicum, Laboratory, Lecture, Lecture/Laboratory, Seminar, Independent Study

Credit Hours: 1-4

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Lower-Level

Description: Topics and credit hours vary each semester. Contact department for current semester's topic(s). Repeatable for Credit.

JWST 301 - JEWISH FOOD: RELIGION, CULTURE, AND CONSUMPTION FROM THE BIBLE TO BAGELS

Short Title: JEWISH FOOD

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Seminar

Distribution Group: Distribution Group I

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: "We are what we eat," the saying goes. But is that true? How do choices and practices connected to eating define us and our communities? Our study of Jewish food traditions from the Bible to the present will engage this and other important issues related to religion and identity politics. Repeatable for Credit.

JWST 317 - JEWISH GRAPHIC NOVEL

Short Title: JEWISH GRAPHIC NOVEL

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Seminar

Distribution Group: Distribution Group I

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: This course will examine contemporary works that combine image and text to depict Jewish history, culture, community, and identity in the form of the graphic novel.

JWST 318 - ISRAELI WOMEN WRITERS

Short Title: ISRAELI WOMEN WRITERS

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Seminar

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: In the last 25 years there has been an explosion of women's poetry and fiction in Israel. In this course we will explore Israeli women's writing since the inception of the state of Israel and examine what the work of contemporary women writers means for Israeli culture, society, and politics. Cross-list: SWGS 318.

JWST 325 - ARCHIVAL RESEARCH AND HISTORICAL METHODS: JEWISH HOUSTON

Short Title: JEWISH HOUSTON

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Lecture/Laboratory

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: Working with rare documents and materials in the Woodson Research Center, students will learn how to process archival collections, write finding aids, and conduct oral history interviews. By semester’s end, each student will produce a major work of original research on a topic of interest in Houston/South Texas Jewish history. Instructor Permission Required.

JWST 338 - BECOMING AMERICANS:THE JEWISH IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE IN THE UNITED STATES

Short Title: BECOMING AMERICANS

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Seminar

Distribution Group: Distribution Group I

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: This course examines the history of the American Jewish immigrant experience from colonial times to the present as a means of trying to understand how newcomers navigate the processes of adaptation, acculturation, and integration into American life. We will travel to Galveston and New York City to visit significant historical sites and immigrant communities.

JWST 348 - SEX AND GENDER IN MODERN JEWISH CULTURE

Short Title: SEX & GENDER IN JEWISH CULTURE

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Lecture

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: How has Jewish identity historically been constructed as gendered, and how has that affected Jewish self-perception and -representation as well as the representations of others? This course explores the intersection between gender and Jewishness from several different historical and cultural perspectives, using literature, film, and philosophy. Cross-list: SWGS 348. Mutually Exclusive: Cannot register for JWST 348 if student has credit for RELI 347/SWGS 347.

JWST 351 - HOLOCAUST REPRESENTATION IN LITERATURE, ART, AND FILM

Short Title: HOLOCAUST REPRESENTATION

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Seminar

Credit Hours: 3

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: This course will address the representation of the Holocaust in literature, art, and film. Is the Holocaust representable? What literary and artistic techniques and devices have been employed to represent the unrepresentable? Through Holocaust narrative, poetry, fiction, art, memorials, documentary and narrative film, we will explore these questions. Cross-list: FILM 351. Mutually Exclusive: Cannot register for JWST 351 if student has credit for FILM 349/RELI 349.

JWST 477 - SPECIAL TOPICS

Short Title: SPECIAL TOPICS

Department: Jewish Studies

Grade Mode: Standard Letter

Course Type: Seminar, Lecture, Laboratory, Internship/Practicum

Credit Hours: 1-4

Restrictions: Enrollment is limited to Undergraduate, Undergraduate Professional or Visiting Undergraduate level students.

Course Level: Undergraduate Upper-Level

Description: Topics and credit hours may vary each semester. Contact department for current semester's topic(s). Repeatable for Credit.

Description and Code Legend

Note: Internally, the university uses the following descriptions, codes, and abbreviations for this academic program. The following is a quick reference: 

Course Catalog/Schedule 

  • Course offerings/subject codes: Courses from various subjects may apply towards this program

Program Description and Code

  • Jewish Studies: JWST 

Undergraduate Minor Description and Code

  • Minor in Jewish Studies: JWST 

CIP Code and Description1

  • JWST Minor: CIP Code/Title: 38.0206 - Jewish/Judaic Studies