Middlebury

Robert S. Schine

Silberman Professor of Jewish Studies

 
 work802.443.5151
 Mondays and Tuesdays 2:30-4:00

Professor Schine teaches courses on the history of Jewish thought, especially in the modern period from the Enlightenment to the present day, on the history of Zionism, and on Classical Hebrew.

His scholarship is in the area of German-Jewish thought and culture.  He is the author of Jewish Thought Adrift: Max Wiener 1882-1950(1992) and of Hermann Cohen, Spinoza on State and Religion, Judaism and Christianity, an annotated translation, with introduction, of Cohen’s 1915 monograph (Shalem Press, Jerusalem, 2014).  He is also co-editor, with Samuel Moyn, of an anthology of translations, Hermann Cohen: Judaism and Neo-Kantian Philosophy (forthcoming, Brandeis/University Press of New England). In addition, he has written on the early history of Jewish life in Vermont: " 'Members of this Book': The Pinkas of Vermont's First Jewish Congregation," in The American Jewish Archives Journal (2008).

 

Courses

Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

CLAS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
(Approval required)

Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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CLAS 0505 - Ind Senior Project      

(Approval Required)

Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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CLAS 0700 - Sr Essay Classics/Cy      

Senior Essay for Classics/Classical Studies Majors
(Approval required)

Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015

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FYSE 1384 - Reading the Book of Job      

Reading the Book of Job
Why do the innocent suffer? Why do we want to believe that the world is “fair” and “ordered”? The Book of Job asked these questions millennia ago. Framed by a prose tale about the “patience of Job,” with a happy ending, the core of the book is a debate in poetry, between an impatient Job and his “friends”, with no satisfactory ending at all. We will study the book itself and its retellings and interpretations through novels, poetry, drama, philosophy and art, including works by Kafka, Camus, William Blake, Shakespeare, Voltaire, Kant, and Robert Frost. 3 hrs. sem. CW PHL

Fall 2012, Fall 2013

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FYSE 1455 - Teachers and Students      

Teachers and Students, Ancient to Modern
Hillel used to say, “The shy one cannot learn, and the impatient one cannot teach.” Confucius said: “If I lift up one corner and the student can't come back with the other three, I won't do it again." Cultures ancient and modern have reflected on the responsibilities of teachers and students, grappling with what constitutes an effective teacher or a successful student. What are the virtues—and perils—of discipleship? Of charisma? Should a teacher be gentle or forceful? Strict or lenient? Are teachers creators or conduits of tradition? In this seminar we will explore these questions in a range of historical periods and places, using film, literature, religious, and philosophical texts. Texts will include the Bible, Analects, and writings by Plato, Rousseau, and Helen Keller; films will include Dead Poet’s Society. 3 hrs. sem. CW PHL

Fall 2015

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HEBR 0101 - Beginning Classical Hebrew I      

Beginning Classical Hebrew I
The goal of the Hebrew sequence is to develop students' ability to read the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) and later Hebrew literature. An introduction to classical Hebrew, this course presupposes nothing, begins with mastery of the Hebrew alphabet, and leads students through the noun and the basic structure of the Hebrew verbal system. By the end of the course, students will be reading and translating brief biblical narratives with the use of a lexicon. LNG

Winter 2013, Fall 2014

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HEBR 0102 - Beginning Classical Hebrew II      

Beginning Classical Hebrew II
This course continues the introductory sequence (HEBR 0101) offered in Winter Term and will conclude by reading a single biblical text such as Jonah or Ruth in its entirety. Selections of biblical poetry and narrative will be read throughout the semester. 3 hrs. lect. LNG

Spring 2013

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HEBR 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
Approval required.

Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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INTD 1156 - Jewish Humor: No Joke      

Jewish Humor: No Joke!
What makes jokes funny? How do jokes connect with the absurd? How do jokes ameliorate hardship? Is “Jewish humor” distinct from other forms? How? In this course we will investigate Jewish humor, ranging from the Bible to Yiddish writers, its function in the face of persecution (even the Holocaust), and its role in contemporary America and Israel. In addition to studying and enjoying Jewish jokes in literature, film, websites, and other sources, we will consider theories of humor, including Sigmund Freud’s famous essay on jokes, Henri Bergson’s Laughter, and Ted Cohen’s Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters. The course will emphasize oral presentation. CMP WTR

Winter 2015

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JWST 0160 - The Jewish Tradition      

The Jewish Tradition
How did monotheism emerge in the ancient Middle East? What did God command the Jews to do? (And when God spoke, were they already Jews?) How did they transform this message into a tradition that has endured over two millennia? In this course we will study the tension between preservation and innovation in the Jewish tradition by exploring ritual, practice, classical texts, and their interpretations: Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, medieval philosophy (Maimonides), poetry (Halevi), and mysticism (Zohar and Lurianic Kabbalah). 3 hrs. lect./disc. HIS PHL

Fall 2015

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LITS 0710 - Senior Honors Essay      

Senior Honors Essay
(Approval Required)

Fall 2014

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RELI 0160 - The Jewish Tradition      

The Jewish Tradition
How did monotheism emerge in the ancient Middle East? What did God command the Jews to do? (And when God spoke, were they already Jews?) How did they transform this message into a tradition that has endured over two millennia? In this course we will study the tension between preservation and innovation in the Jewish tradition by exploring ritual, practice, classical texts, and their interpretations: Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, medieval philosophy (Maimonides), poetry (Halevi), and mysticism (Zohar and Lurianic Kabbalah). 3 hrs. lect./disc. HIS PHL

Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2015

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RELI 0161 - Making of Modern Jewish Life      

The Making of Modern Jewish Life
Jewish life in the 21st century is radically transformed from a century ago. We will explore these transformations through the thinkers, movements, and events that have shaped Jewish life in our day: the emergence of religious denominations in Europe and North America (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist), the revival of Kabbalah in our times, the Holocaust as a crisis in religious thought, the eruption of Zionism and founding of the State of Israel, the transformations brought about by the changing role of women, and finally, post-denominationalism and "the un-Jewish Jew." 3 hrs. lect. PHL

Fall 2013, Spring 2015

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RELI 0165 - Cultures of the Jews      

Cultures of the Jews
Judaism is more than a religion, but how? We will seek to answer this question by studying Jewish life as a global phenomenon encompassing varieties in custom, gender roles, family and communal structure, language, music, literature, and art. We will range across the major divisions of Jewish culture in Europe (Ashkenazic and Sephardic), to Jewish life in the Middle East, and follow the diffusion of these cultures as far as China and India. Readings include translations from a variety of languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino), and genres including memoir, ethnography, poetry, philosophy, and scripture. 3 hrs. lect/disc. CMP PHL

Fall 2014

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RELI 0362 - The Debate on Zionism      

The Debate on Zionism WT
What is Zionism? A Jewish national movement? A European colonial enterprise? A secular rebellion against tradition? A form of religious messianism? A manifestation of “Orientalism” and racism, or a collective Jewish response to these phenomena? From its beginnings in Europe to the present, Zionism and debates over Zionism have proven vital—and often fatal—for their participants. Readings will include major proponents and critics of Zionism: Palestinian and Marxist critiques of Zionist ideology, modern scholarly and journalistic accounts, film, and Palestinian and Israeli literature. 3 hrs. sem. AAL HIS PHL

Spring 2013, Spring 2015

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RELI 0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
(Approval Required)

Spring 2011, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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RELI 0601 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Spring 2011

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RELI 0700 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Spring 2011, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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RELI 0701 - Senior Thesis in Religion      

Senior Research for Honors Candidates
Approval required

Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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Robert Schine spent his formative years in Connecticut, at Kenyon College (Ohio), in Freiburg, Germany and in New York, studying Latin, ancient history, Hebrew, German, philosophy and religion. A scholar and teacher in Jewish thought and Classical Hebrew, he has been teaching at Middlebury since 1985 and is the first holder of the college’s first endowed chair in his field, the Curt C. and Else Silberman Chair in Jewish Studies. When not studying, thinking, or writing, he can be seen biking on the roads around the county, canoeing in Maine or intently listening to string quartets during CFA concerts. Long ago he played blues harmonica for college coffee houses and he still owns some harmonicas that are hidden away in the basement of the Brainerd House.

Program in International and Global Studies

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Middlebury College
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