C LIT 396 B: Special Studies in Comparative Literature

Spring 2023
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm / SAV 137
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
ENGL 312 A , JEW ST 312 A , NEAR E 310 A , GLITS 311 B
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Jewish Literature: Biblical to Modern/

Jewish Literature: Foundations and Re-imaginings

Please note: students may sign up for this course under the prefix NEAR E, C LIT, GLITS, ENGL, or JEW ST.  It is the same course! If you have any questions about how the credits may count toward a major or minor in MELC, in English, in Jewish Studies, in Slavic, or in Cinema and Media Studies, please speak with the advisors in Humanities Academic Services. (Ask for Nancy Sisko: nsisko@uw.edu).  NO PREREQUISITES!

Spring 2023 – TTh 11:30-1:20

5 credits

C LIT 396b  AH; ENGL 312a  AH and DIV; GLITS 311b  AH;  JEW ST 312a AH, DIV, SSc;  NEAR E 310 AH


Prof. Naomi Sokoloff

220 Denny Hall



Office Hours: Wednesday 11:-12:30 or by appointment


From the Hebrew Bible to the Hogwarts Haggadah, from the traditional prayer book to today's feminist poetry, Jewish literature presents endless commentary on foundational texts. New stages of writing reinterpret, alter, illuminate, and/or develop what they receive from the past. This course provides an overview of 3000 years of literary history and considers texts from a wide variety of genres, including scripture, Midrash, medieval poetry, Hasidic tale, modern fiction, television satire, popular music lyrics, and more.

All readings will be in English, but the course will include material from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and America, composed originally in Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish, Ladino, and Italian, as well as English. No Prerequisites!


Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course students are expected a) to have acquired a basic knowledge of major genres of Jewish literature, from antiquity till today, and to be able to identify important features of classical sources such as Bible, Talmud, Midrash, Prayer Books, Haggadah, Medieval poetry, and Hasidic Tale; b) to  have examined a range of modern Jewish texts and to understand how they respond to earlier sources through debate, allusion, adaptation to new genres and media, and other artistic reinterpretation; c) to have considered diversity within Jewish cultures and Jewish experiences as a minority culture and as a majority culture; d) to have discussed how women’s voices, which for centuries were mostly excluded from Jewish writing, have become tremendous creative forces in 20th and 21st century writing; e) in the course of discussing sacred and secular writing, to have encountered continuity and discontinuity in themes that span millennia: for example, prayer, from traditional sources to contemporary innovation; response to persecution and catastrophe, from the ancient world and medieval times till the Nazi Holocaust; covenant and freedom, from the Book of Exodus to the 20th century civil rights movement.


All required readings will be available on the course website.

Students are expected to complete required readings and to participate regularly in class. Participation may include discussions, in-class writing exercises, and group activities. Other assignments will include three short quizzes, 1 essay, and a class presentation, plus brief written homework or discussion board posts on Canvas. No final exam. Final grades will be determined as follows:


3 quizzes                                                                                  30%

Discussions on Canvas                                                           10%

Participation in class                                                               10%

1 essay (750-1250 words)                                                      30%

1 class presentation                                                                20%


This is a “W” optional course. W credit requires significant amounts of writing, editing, and revision. Students taking this option will write a longer essay (1250-1500 words), and they are required to identify  the essay topic early in the quarter, identify secondary sources in consultation with the instructor, launch the project with an outline or opening paragraph, receive feedback on early drafts, make revisions, and then complete a rewritten, final draft that polishes the prose.

There may be several optional assignments for extra credit.

 Grading scale:

98-100   = 4.0

96-97     = 3.9

94-95     = 3.8  

92-93     = 3.7

91          = 3.6

90          = 3.5

89          = 3.4

88           =3.3     etc.



*This course is open to all UW undergraduate students. My home department, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, welcomes you and your pronouns.

*If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability please contact Disability Resources for Students (uwdrs@uw.edu or 206-543-8924 (voice and relay). More information is available at  https://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/

*In cases of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism or receiving inappropriate assistance on an assignment, offending students will be penalized in accordance with the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences. If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism or how to properly attribute credit to source materials, consult with the instructor.

 *Please keep a copy of all graded work. This is very useful in case the instructor’s record of grades is lost or damaged, or in case the student wishes to discuss a grade.  Protect yourself by keeping a copy.

* Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/)

Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/)

*For additional guidelines on academic integrity, Incompletes, grade appeal, concerns about an instructor, equal opportunity, disability accommodations, absences due to religious observances, sexual harassment, and safety, see the information available at https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/syllabi-guidelines/ (Links to an external site.) 

*If you have any concerns about the class, try to resolve them first with your classroom instructor. If the matter is not resolved that way, you can turn to the Divisional Dean for the Humanities, Brian Reed (bmreed@uw.edu). If the matter is not resolved that way, there are other resources available to students to resolve complaints or grievances, including Humanities Academic Services https://hasc.washington.edu/, the Bias Reporting Tool, https://www.washington.edu/bias/ , the Office of the Ombud, https://www.washington.edu/ombud/ , the University Complaint and Resolution Office, https://www.washington.edu/compliance/uciro/, and Disability Resources, https://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/complaint-mediation/.

Email:  I try to respond promptly to email from students, but I may not reply immediately. You may expect a response to take up to four or five days.


It is important that we take care of ourselves inside and outside of class by learning how to care for our body, mind and spirit. Toward that end, there are many different kinds of support services on campus, including the Counseling Center, Hall Health, and the IMA. If you are concerned about yourself or a friend who is struggling, Safecampus, at 1-800-685-7233, is a very helpful resources to learn more about how to access campus-based support services. Please save the number for Safecampus, 1-800-685-7233, into your cell phones.

Attendance and class participation are important to the learning process. However, if you have symptoms of contagious illness – such as sniffles, sneezes, a cough, a sore throat, or a fever – please do not come to class. We will figure out a way to cover the material so that your learning and your grades will not suffer. 

The provost has asked faculty to share these links with all students. You can find information here about medical services and mental health support at UW.

http://wellbeing.uw.edu/?mkt_tok=NTI3LUFIUi0yNjUAAAGBFztecQRfQ9gDKdZnZ5Xp0CPJWdwcxDdwhpihOLx4sfELukredzsp9Vd3snzc0vHrxlELL1HKDB_086G2Gj3bKK8n5hiBa8pH1tf7D8kLinks to an external site.


http://wellbeing.uw.edu/topic/mental-health/?mkt_tok=NTI3LUFIUi0yNjUAAAGBFzteccXcH7a4WLO8DhTlKNkemS8R3YjWjV6sJTZ4x0x_iYfRHMnuZryh6IY74GZjM_YpRbbU8fm_e9uST4rCI2VC7dgf_q1Ts28tI2cLinks to an external site.


Course Outline:

(links to readings are available on the course Homepage for enrolled students)



Catalog Description:
Offered by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.
Department Requirements Met:
Literature Elective
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
June 7, 2024 - 11:15 pm