AFFILIATED FACULTY: GERARD ALEXANDER (POLITICS), GABRIEL FINDER (GERMAN), ZVI GILBOA (MESALC), JEFFREY GROSSMAN (GERMAN), DANIEL LEFKOWITZ (ANTHROPOLOGY), JAMES LOEFFLER (HISTORY), CAROLINE RODY (ENGLISH), JOEL RUBIN (MUSIC)
UVa’s graduate program in Judaism trains students in the methods of literary, ethnographic, philosophical, socio-cultural and historical analysis to explore Jewish religion, thought, and literature, with attention to the diverse cultural and intellectual environments in which Jewish communities have flourished.
Students are encouraged to shape a program that reflects their own interests with faculty within the department of Religious Studies and within the interdisciplinary Jewish Studies program (see http://jewishstudies.as.virginia.edu/faculty). Graduate work in Judaism at both MA and PhD levels prepares students for teaching and advanced research in the academy and beyond—including careers in museums, publishing, foundations, Jewish education, communal work and archives.
Areas of study include:
- Textuality: The study of Jewish texts—from ancient and foundational sacred writings to literary, exegetical, and religious-philosophical texts of later eras—in their historical context and in the context of their transmission, reception, and interpretation. This sub-area attends to the languages and literary genres of Jewish texts, as well as to their historical contexts.
- Practice: The study of Jewish practice, learning, culture, literature, ethics, art and material culture. This sub-area focuses on how the practices of Judaism are transmitted, experienced, transformed, and regularized.
- Thought: Jewish thought, from the earliest period to today, as well as its encounters with Western and non-Western philosophical sources. This sub-area gives special attention to studies in (i) the logic of Jewish scriptural commentary and interpretation; (ii) the intellectual history of medieval Judaism and its expression in the Islamic world; (iii) modern and contemporary Jewish thought; (iv) Judaism and gender.
Concentration in the Study of Judaism
The successful completion of 24 credit hours of course work; and the preparation and successful defense of a thesis which exhibits competence in the area of specialization, skill in a given method of study, and an ability to employ resources in the relevant world language(s);
The successful completion of 30 credit hours of course work; and the satisfactory performance in a comprehensive examination based upon a reading list approved by the relevant field committee.
(The choice between these options is determined in consultation between the student and faculty advisors, and with a view to the student's objectives in graduate study.)
Candidates are expected to pass five foundational courses:
- Two courses in Textuality (Biblical Studies, Rabbinic Literature or Jewish Literature)
- One course within Practice or Material Culture
- One course within Jewish Thought
- One course in Jewish History
A reading knowledge in at least one relevant research language other than English, in addition to either Classical or Modern Hebrew, must to be demonstrated by examination. Research languages will be determined in consultation with the graduate advisor and by approval of the Committee on Graduate Studies.
Expectations for the Degree
UVA's PhD concentration in the study of Judaism is offered as a Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies. All Doctor of Philosophy students who do not hold a graduate degree are required to take 72 credits, including a minimum of 45 credits in graded courses at or above the 5000 level and 27 or fewer additional credits (which may be taken in non-graded non-topical research consultation). Students who already hold a graduate degree in Religious Studies from another University (M.A., M. Div., or equivalent) may petition for advanced standing at the end of their first year of residence and be permitted to waive up to 15 credits of the course-work requirement.
Students in Judaism research area are expected to pass five foundational courses:
- Two courses in Textuality, which includes Biblical Studies, Rabbinic Literature, and Contemporary Jewish Literature
- One course in Practice or Material Culture
- One course in Jewish Thought
- One course in Jewish History
Additional courses, taught within the interdisciplinary Jewish Studies Program and across the University, will be decided upon by students and their advisors.
Students must demonstrate by examination a reading competency in at least one research language other than English appropriate to the field of concentration. In addition, students must demonstrate by examination a reading competency in Modern Hebrew or in Classical Hebrew. It is expected that students will have taken at least two years in either Modern or Classical Hebrew upon matriculation. Additional competencies may be required in Rabbinic Hebrew and/or Aramaic depending on the student’s area of specialization.
Students must successfully complete their comprehensive examination by by the end of the semester following the completion of coursework. When all comprehensive exams are completed and languages are certified, the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy.
The number and format of the comprehensive exams will be decided individually by the student and their advisors in light of their anticipated dissertation research and career plans. Students must pass at least three (but no more than five) comprehensive examinations in the Judaism research area. The format will be determined by the faculty reading the exams, for instance: three or six hour closed book exam, extensive research paper, or annotated syllabus. Students will need to engage two UVA faculty readers for each exam, including at least one reader from the Department of Religious Studies.
Suggested research areas:
- Textuality: The study of Jewish texts—from ancient and foundational sacred writings to literary, exegetical, and religious-philosophical texts of later eras—in their historical context and in the context of their transmission, reception, and interpretation, for example, Biblical Literature, Rabbinic Literature, Liturgy, and Contemporary Jewish Literature
- Practice: The study of Jewish practice, learning, culture, literature, ethics, art and material culture. This area focuses on how the practices of Judaism are transmitted, experienced, transformed, and regularized.
- Thought: Jewish thought, from the earliest period to today, as well as its encounters with Western and non-Western philosophical sources.
- Jewish History: From the earliest period to today, including theories of Jewish history and historiography, as well as memory studies.