Saturday, August 23, 2008

Looking Forward: Study Plans

Speaking of study plans, Mark (one of my neighbours) has told me of a great website to help me review for the Biblical Hebrew placement exam. This is a relief since I really didn't know where to start. So, here's my language dilemna in looking forward to the coming academic year: as a Visiting Graduate, I'm not required to continue in Modern Hebrew, but can opt to. I'm arguing with myself: do I take Modern Hebrew which is 8 hours of classroom study per week, which means another 20 hours-ish of homework per week, or do I take that time and use it for my own research and to travel around the country? Arrgh! Because, essentially, one can get by in Israel without knowing Hebrew, but I'm wondering if I want to because it is so great to communicate with locals in their own language. Help! Advice will be most welcome, with the caveat that I'm leaning heavily toward continuing in Modern.

So! For those of you who don't know this, I'm required to take 3 courses per semester and can substitute one of these courses for a tutorial = a directed reading either one-on-one with a prof or in a small group setting. (Modern Hebrew is not included in the three, but in addition to them.) I will be signing up for the Creative Writing (Autumn Semester) and Literary Translation (Spring) Workshops; I was told, however, that neither of these are hugely popular but the prof would most likely be willing to work with me in a tuturial. Gasp! Be still, my creative, racing heart (said in a Texan accent)!!

Next is the Biblical Hebrew. I'm now down to one more course required per semester. Are you ready? Sitting down?

Autumn Semester: "God, Man and History in the Ancient Near East" with Prof. Wayne Horowitz.
"A graduate seminar examining Ancient Mesopotamian perceptions of the role of deities in the lives of nations and individuals in Ancient Sumer and Akkad, Babylonia and Assyria. Students will study ancient primary sources in translation and examine topics such as the role of the Sumerian-Akkadian pantheon in state formation in early Mesopotamia; the function of gods in defining ancient national identity; and the relationship between great gods, personal gods, and ordinary human beings. The course begins with an overview of the Ancient Near Eastern religious system and then includes a chronological investigation of the development of Ancient Near Eastern religious thought as expressed in major Sumerian and Akkadian texts. These will include the Law Code of Hammurabi, the Babylonian national creation myth Enuma Elish, the Babylonian Job (Ludlul-Bel-Nemeqi), and Sumerian parallels to the biblical book of Lamentations. Students will be encouraged to consider theological theories generated by the seminar in the context of neighbouring cultures including Biblical and post-Biblical Israel, Ancient Egypt, India, and China, and the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. Students will be required to present their research findings to the seminar in the form of 'conference papers' in the final meetings of the course, and then to submit written formal research papers.

Spring Semester: "Canaanite Literature and the Bible" with Prof.
Ed Greenstein
"A survey of the Canaanite literature that constitutes the literary heritage of Biblical Israel, and especially the corpus of literary and religious texts from ancient Ugarit. A variety of textual genres, including myth, epic, prayer and ritual, will be compared with their biblical counterparts, in order to discern cultural continuity on the one hand and the biblical adaptations and transformations of Canaanite conventions (forms, images, motifs, expressions) on the other."

This is the course I'm soooooooooo excited about - it's exactly what I'm looking at for my thesis and was hoping for in a course here. Yay! I'm still hoping to find a class in feminist exegesis of the Bible, as well as the course on ancient Jewish magic and its roots in the Ancient Near East, but it looks like I had downloaded last year's calendar. It's ok: these courses are right up my alley and I'm very excited to take them.

Last week I received this email:

"Golem and Kafka in Prague: The German Disenchantment with the Enlightenment." This course is taught in Prague during a 6-day tour of the city. The course focuses on German social thought and uses narratives of the Golem and Faust as keys for deconstructing major texts or scholarly work. Each day is focused on a clear theme, and the whole week revolves around the issue of the German disenchantment with the Enlightenment. The group will convene in Prague on February 2009, and estimated cost is $1,100 including all expenses (including museums and theater) other than food. (The course does depend, though, on how many people are interested in it. I sent in my vote for the affirmative.)

Truthfully, I'm working out in my head HOW this course has anything to do with my thesis...construction of heroes? Mythic characters made "real" in folklore? I feel as though I must justify taking this course, when it doesn't pertain as obviously as do the others to my thesis. And then I think: it's in Prague! Prague! What a fantastic way to experience Prague for my first time there! And, I HAVE the opportunity (read: money, time and interest) to do this. I'll keep you updated.

And now, I have to study. I would love to write and hang out with you all day, but both Hebrews are calling me to play with them. Plus, I have a party to go to tonight: the French folk leave later this week and the guys upstairs (Alain, Laurent, Mark, Joseph and Clements) have invited our apartment and a few others to their place to eat, drink and be merry in four different languages: Hebrew, French, English and German. (And last night I had 4 different invites to Shabbat dinners - I'm a rather popular little Canadian.)

Lehitra'ot! Auf wiedersehn! A bientot! Till soon!

5 comments:

Richard said...

"God, Man and History in the Ancient Near East" with Prof. Wayne Horowitz.

Naturally, I lean towards an economic explanation of state formation, but I would love to see ALL of the material from this course (your papers included) - please please please??

Sounds like you are in for a great year!

Oh, and I would take the extra modern Hebrew if I were in your shoes, although, in this situation, it isn't possible to make a "wrong" choice, and your work load will be HUGE!

Anonymous said...

I could not advise you one way or the other on course selection as it is absolutely foreign territory to me. I know you'll make the right choices. You always do. However, I'd say, if you have the "opportunity" to go to Prague - do it! Love, Bij

Anonymous said...

Hi, "little miss popular" Canadian!

Loved your last blog entry. I think you should go for the Modern Hebrew. All your courses sound fascinating and I will want to hear all about them. Your social life sounds like so much fun - all those different languages. Grandma wants to know if there is a cafeteria at the university. Loved our chat yesterday. All my love, Mom

Julie said...

Why do you need to take the Creative Writing workshop again?

Denise said...

Interesting to know.