Courses Offered This Semester

Spring 2023


ENGL 3123 Shakespeare 2

Professor Tanya Pollard
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Shakespeare’s Troubled Families. Which is worse: having a family, or not having a family? When Shakespeare’s powerful male protagonists fret over their legacies, they worry about children dying, disappearing, or disappointing them, or the corollary problem of not having children in the first place. Many of the plays feature bitter family disputes, and many feature terrible losses; some also feature mysterious reappearances, reunions, and reconciliations. This class will explore how questions of success, succession, heredity, and inheritance shape parent-child relations in Shakespeare’s plays, with an eye to problems of succession among Shakespeare’s actors and London theater companies. Readings will include King Lear, Macbeth, Timon of Athens, Cymbeline, and The Winter’s Tale; assignments will include weekly short written responses, one short essay, one exam, and a final research paper.


Professor Nicola Masciandaro

“Although I feel that my tragedy is the greatest in history—greater than the fall of empires—I am nevertheless aware of my total insignificance. I am absolutely persuaded that I am nothing in this universe; yet I feel that mine is the only real existence” (E.M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair). As this statement indicates, the tragic sense of life is situated at the boundary of the individual and history, between the junction and disjunction between two empires, that of the world and that of the self. This course will explore the tragic dimensions of literature (and life) by focusing on the theme of empire and its connection to the tragedies of individual experience. Works to be read include Sophocles, Theban Plays; Dante, Inferno; Shakespeare, King Lear; Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian; and select readings in the theory of tragedy from Aristotle to Nietzsche.


HIST 3002 Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Europe Before 1800

Associate Professor Lauren Mancia
Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30–10:45 a.m.

This course examines the history of women, gender, and sexuality in Europe from late antiquity (ca. 200 C.E.) through the early modern era (ca. 1789 C.E.). The course will ask questions like: How did early European societies understand and use the categories female and male? Was premodern Europe tolerant of homosexuality? Was it a heteronormative society? How did Christian practices create, solidify, and simultaneously undermine gender norms? How did the history of gender and sexuality shape the formation of European societies, cultures, and polities, and give way to the institutions and ideologies of later European institutions and hegemonies? No knowledge of the premodern/early modern period required; no previous experience with courses on gender/sexuality required. Students will participate in the construction of an exhibition for the Brooklyn College Archives on great female premodernist emerita faculty members who taught and researched at Brooklyn College before 1980. Students interested in the history of religion, gender and sexuality, and/or the pre- and early-modern world: This course is for you! This course satisfies pre-1500 requirements and European History classes for history majors, and #2 requirements for Women’s and Gender Studies majors.

HIST 3310/CLAS 3237 Ancient Mediterranean Religions

Marcus Elder
Wednesdays, noon

HIST 4001 Colloquium in the History of Religion: Immersive Monasticism

Mondays and Wednesdays*, 11 a.m.–12:40 p.m., in person

* Except for the weeks of January 30, February 27, March 27, April 24, and May 1 and 8, when we will not meet on Mondays and Wednesdays but rather on Fridays (February 3, March 3 and 31, April 28, and May 5 and 12) at the Met Cloisters (the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the study of medieval art) or other locations around the city (e.g., St. John the Divine, the Morgan Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rubin Museum) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

E-mail Associate Professor Lauren Mancia for permission to register.

This is an experimental, experiential colloquium where students will both learn about medieval European monasticism (ca. 200–1500 C.E.) through traditional means (readings, primary sources, art works, music, etc.) and untraditional means (performed experiences). Each participant will therefore need to commit to doing both the academic work of the course and the performed experiences of the course (e.g. participating in monastic-like rules for living, like temporarily restricting dress or food, or sitting in class in prolonged silence, or experimenting with radical meditation-like practices, etc.). Students in no way will be asked to practice medieval or modern Catholicism or any religion, but will rather be living deliberately themselves in 2022 in order to explore how medieval religion required monks and nuns to live. The course therefore will ask students to engage with practices that are not just intellectual or reasoned, but are also behavioral or embodied, so that we can better assess medieval monastic historical experience through practice as well as intellectual reading. At the end of the course, students will be required to construct an original experience for our class in lieu of a final research paper. The experience will be a performed, embodied assignment, informed by traditional historical research and primary sources. The final performance/experience will aim to get its audience to experience (and not just intellectually understand) the thesis of the author/creator, who will argue something about the nature of medieval monastic experience and why it might be a helpful thing for humans today to deeply understand. Students will be actively supported in the creation of these performances/experiences by the professor, who will teach students about how methodologies from theater and performance studies might be marshalled to better understand historical experiences of medieval people.

Judaic Studies

JUST 1145 Classical Jewish Texts

Tzemah Yoreh
Mondays and Wednesdays, online

JUST/CLAS/RELG/PHIL 3022 Searching for God

Associate Professor David Brodsky
Tuesdays and Thursdays

JUST 3065 Readings in Talmud

Associate Professor David Brodsky
Fridays, 9:55–10:45 a.m., online (1 credit; CR/NC)

JUST 4034/HIST 3103 Kabbalah

Professor Sharon Flatto
Mondays and Wednesdays


PHIL 3121 Modern Philosophy

Associate Professor Andrew Arlig
Tuesdays (hybrid)


RELG 3003/CLAS 3246 Questions of Text and Truth

Professor Sharon Flatto
Tuesdays and Thursdays

Brooklyn. All in.