Course Descriptions


Winter Quarter (W22)

Dept/Description Course No., Title  Instructor

This course will concern itself with the response to the Holocaust in the memoirs of Primo Levi and Liana Millu, and in the fiction of Giorgio Bassani. Framing their writings will be brief readings in the work of historians Liliana Picciotto Fargion, Susan Zuccotti and Michele Sarfatti.

Italy had no native tradition of anti-Semitism to compare with the French or Austrian (Action Française; Karl Lueger’s Christian Social Party).  Moreover, the Holocaust in Italy begins comparably late–in 1943 with the overthrow of Mussolini–and continues with his consent from the Republic of Salò, the largely puppet state the Germans set up for him after his rescue. The class will briefly address such historical questions as the relation between Italian Fascism and anti-Semitism, the role and responsibility of the Papacy in the eventual deportations, and, finally, the heroism of Italian individuals and even institutions (the diplomatic corps) in the face of unspeakable atrocity. In Levi and Millu we shall address more literary questions: Italian identity, for example. What did it mean to be an Italian Jew in the camps– hence Sephardic–to speak no Yiddish and not to be observant, i.e. to be both culturally and religiously ignorant? On the other hand, what did it mean for an Italian Jew to be cultured and completely assimilated to Italian life: “tutti dottori, tutti avvocati” unlike Polish, Hungarian and Russian Jews? We will study the development of the identity of the protagonist as s/he struggles to survive in the Italy of the race laws and then in the inconceivable conditions of Auschwitz.  

All readings will be in English; there will be two five-page papers and a final exam. The course counts toward the Minor in Italian.
Days: MO WE  02:00-02:50 PM


How did the West envision the Arab East and construct its own image in the process? How was the colonization of the Arab world facilitated by vision, both in the sense of ×´a way of seeing×´ and in the sense of ×´a plan for the future×´? And how do such Orientalist visions affect our world today? The term “Orientalism” was first used by the Palestinian scholar Edward Said to describe European and American prejudicial perceptions of the Arab world, which are regularly employed to rationalize colonial invasion and expropriation. We will begin this course by closely reading some of Said’s writing, as well as his interlocutors and critics, to better understand what Orientalism is, how it affects Western views of Arabs and Islam, and how it is related to such contemporary phenomena as immigration, the “war on terror” or cultural appropriation. We will then move on to examine the role of vision in colonial projects by focusing on three examples: Egypt, Algeria, and Palestine. We will read primary sources that document Orientalist visions for these lands, such as memoirs, travelogues, and personal letters. We will also engage with visual sources—photographs, art works, video games, television, and film—to better comprehend the function of visuality in Orientalism and to explore the responses of Arab artists to experiences of Orientalization. The seminar emphasizes critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Through short writing assignments and in-class workshops, students will gradually develop independent writing projects.
Days: TU TH  09:30-10:50 AM


Taking a broad definition of texts, this course tours more than two thousand years of history in ten episodes. Each week, through the thorough examination of a key primary text, the course will explore an element of Judaism and Jewish history. Throughout the entire course, attention will be paid closely to both the substance of the course – they key texts and their contexts – as well as to the historical thinking and interpretation skills the class seeks to cultivate. Finally, many classes will have a guest lecturer who is an expert on that particular text or period of exploration.

Each class will be divided into a short lecture, an interpretive workshop, a discussion (which, ideally, will be an extension of the one begun on the online forum), and a guest lecture or AMA. 

(IV and VIII )
Days: FR  09:00-11:50 AM

Courses Offered by the Jewish Studies Minor or other Schools at UCI

Winter Quarter (W22)

Dept Course No., Title   Instructor