University of Wisconsin–Madison

Featured Courses

Below is a list of new or revised courses being offered in fall 2017 which may be of interest to students in REECAS.

For a full list of REECAS courses, please check out the links to the right.

JEWISH 230-002/SLAVIC 245-002/LITTRANS 247-002 – Elementary Topics in Jewish Literature: Russia and the Jews: Literature, Culture, and Religion

Prof. Marina Zilbergerts
MWF 9:55 – 10:45 am
3 Credits

View in course catalog

This course explores the rich world of Russian Jewish culture from its very foundations. After a brief foray into antiquity, our study will begin in late-1700s and will examine the processes of secularization that accompanied the rise and development of Jewish and Russian literature and culture. The course will familiarize students with important movements such as Hasidism, the Jewish Enlightenment, and Zionism, asking how and why they arose in the context of the Russian Empire. Reading literary, theological and political works by Jewish and Russian writers, our aim will be to understand the creative and often-troubled relationships among them. The course will acquaint students with the classical works of Hebrew and Yiddish literature, examining them alongside works of Russian writers. This introductory course will help students gain the background necessary to pursue higher-level courses in Slavic and Jewish studies. All materials will be provided in English translation and no prior knowledge is required.

Learning Outcomes:

The aim of this course is to provide you with a core knowledge of the texts and ideas that created and comprised the world shared by Jews and Russians living in the Russian Empire. Students will gain deep insights into the following topics:

  1. The foundations of Jewish religious and cultural practice in the Russian Empire
  2. The process of secularization, and the rise of secular Jewish literature
  3. The cultural and literary context of the Russian Empire and way that Jewish literature interacted with it
  4. An understanding of various Jewish and Russian movements of the late 19th century,
  5. Knowledge of the classic texts of Russian-Jewish literature written in Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian
  6. Training in effective analytical and writing practices, and the ability to think, argue, and write about literature

Breadth: Humanities – Literature
Level: Elementary
Fulfills: REECAS Group III (Literature & Arts)
Pre-Requisites: none

JEWISH 230-003/GERMAN 266-001/LITTRANS 247-003 – Elementary Topics in Jewish Literature: Dead Yiddish Poets Society

Prof. Marina Zilbergerts
MWF 11:00 – 11:50 am
3 Credits

View in course catalog

This new course takes the art of poetry out of the lecture-hall and into the world.
Our material? The avant-garde masterpieces of Yiddish poetry and their influences.
Our place? Eastern Europe, New York, Tel Aviv, Wisconsin.
Our game? Words.
Our end? Sacred meanings, profane meanings, meanings that go beyond time and place; beauty; form; ideas.
The course will train you to experience poetry through speech, performance and writing. We will also take part in the local poetry scene in Madison.

Assignments will consist of weekly short response paragraphs, poetry reading and analysis presentation, and Midterm and Final papers with an option for creative writing.

Breadth: Humanities – Literature
Level: Elementary
Fulfills: REECAS Group III (Literature & Arts)
Pre-Requisites: none

HISTORY 270 – Eastern Europe since 1900

Prof. Kathryn Ciancia
MWF 11:00 – 11:50 am
3-4 Credits

View in course catalog

This class introduces students to the dramatic history of twentieth-century Eastern Europe, a place where imperialism, Nazism, Communism, genocide, democracy, and capitalism all left their mark. The course revolves around three interrelated themes–war, revolution, and society–all of which allow us to place Eastern Europe within broader comparative contexts. In addition to exploring significant political, economic, and cultural changes, we’ll discover how ordinary people–including workers, peasants, women, and children–experienced attempts to change the region and its people. Throughout, we will discuss how East Europeans continue to wrestle with the ghosts of their past today.

Breadth: Humanities or Social Science
Level: Intermediate
Fulfills: REECAS Group II (History and the Social Sciences)
Pre-Requisites: none

HISTORY 891 – Proseminar: People, Ideas, and Institutions on the Move: Transnational Histories of Modern Europe

Prof. Kathryn Ciancia
M 1:20 – 3:15 pm
1-3 Credits

View in course catalog

This seminar traces how Europeans transcended state borders during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Over the course of the semester, we will focus on three interrelated ways in which transnational interactions have occurred: through the movement of people, the circulation of ideas, and the role of global institutions. Focusing on a range of subjects—including, but not limited to, mass migration from Eastern Europe to “the West,” informal and formal areas of European imperialism, the attitude of the Catholic Church toward Communism, and the role of the League of Nations and the United Nations in policing global norms—will allow us to build up a picture of globalized Europe. In addition to reading the best scholarship that engages with these subjects, students will also confront broader conceptual questions about how we might write transnational histories ourselves. What are the benefits—and potential pitfalls? How is transnational history different from comparative, global, and international history? What kinds of methodological tools, categories of analysis, and language can we use to tell stories within such a framework? Over the course of the semester, students will also work on developing core verbal, written, and reading skills. Assessment will be based on participation in the seminar discussions, written and oral reviews of the readings, and a final piece of work in which students will apply class materials to their own specific field of research.

Pre-Requisites: Graduate standing or consent of instructor

SOC 496-002/JEWISH 433-001 – Topics in Sociology: The Soviet Jewish Experience

Dr. Anna Paretskaya
TR 1:00 -2:15 pm
3 Credits

View in course catalog

This class will survey major trends in Jewish life in Russia and the Soviet Union since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. We will start with the discussion of the affinity between the Jews and socialism and then explore changing policies of the Soviet government towards the Jews, Jewish migrations from shtetl to metropolis, the role of the Jews in the arts and sciences, the resurgence of antisemitism, the rise of the Zionist movement, the peculiar Soviet Jewish identity tied not to religion but to more general cultural practices, and the ultimate emigration of the majority of the Soviet Jews as the USSR was coming to an end. We will examine what was “Jewish” and what was “Soviet” in the Soviet Jewish experience, as well as how it differed from the 20th century experience of Israeli and American Jews. This class will also provide a window into life in a state-socialist society more generally.

Level: Advanced
Fulfills: REECAS Group II (History & Social Sciences)
Pre-Requisites: Junior standing or consent of instructor

POLI SCI 856 – Field Seminar in Comparative Politics

Prof. Yoshiko Herrera
TR 3:30 – 5:25 pm
3 Credits

View in course catalog

A broad introduction to the field of comparative politics. This seminar combines a theory-driven approach with a problem-driven approach to analyze key themes in comparative politics. Four paradigms in comparative politics–structural, cultural, rational-choice and institutional–will be reviewed.
Course syllabus

Pre-Requisites: Graduate standing or consent of instructor