NEAR E 320 A: Jewish Poetry

Spring 2022
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm / DEN 258
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
ENGL 343 A , C LIT 396 B , NEAR E 520 A
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Jewish Poetry

NEAR E 320/C LIT 396/ENGL 343

Please note: students may sign up for this course under the prefix NEAR E, C LIT, or ENGL.  It is the same course! If you have any questions about how the credits may count toward a major or minor in NELC, in English, or in Cinema and Media Studies, please speak with Nancy Sisko ( in Humanities Academic Services.  NO PREREQUISITES! Graduate Students: be sure to see the requirements for NEAR E 520, below.


Prof. Naomi Sokoloff

Spring 2022

5 credits, VLPA, W optional

T/Th 11:30-1:20

Office Hours: T   9:30-11:00 and by appointment

From 17th century Yemen to Madonna music videos, from medieval Germany to Leonard Cohen in concert, from the Bible to Primo Levi’s post-Holocaust poetry – Jewish prayer has inspired poetry and song across millennia. By examining modern poems that respond to elements of traditional liturgy, students in this course can learn how literature over the ages revisits and reinterprets foundational texts, bringing them alive for new generations.

No prerequisites. All readings will be in English. The course considers texts written originally in English, Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish, and Italian. Any students who wish to read some of the texts in Hebrew may register for an additional 2-3 credits of Independent Study (MODHEB 490 or MODHEB 600).


Learning Objectives

By the end of the course students are expected 1) to be familiar with important elements of Jewish  prayer, including blessings, synagogue practices and ritual prayer, High Holiday and Sabbath customs, psalms, piyut, and debates over gender, God and language; 2) to have read a range of modern and medieval poems and songs, understanding how writers have re-imagined or re-framed the language of religion and how they have reflected on  classic genres of Jewish literature and on the role of tradition in contemporary Jewish life and writing; 3) to understand basic features of the art of poetry; analysis of texts in this course will equip students to undertake close reading in a range of other contexts.




All required readings will be available on the course website.

Students are expected to complete required readings and participate regularly in class discussion and activities. Assignments for everyone will include two papers, brief written homework, discussion board posts on Canvas, and quizzes. Final grades will be determined as follows:


Essays ( 2 total)                                                               60%

In class activities and homework                                  20%

Quizzes                                                                            20%


Extra Credit: available, to add .1 to a final grade (for instance, the raise a grade form 3.9 to 4.0 or 3.2 to 3.3).

This is a “W” optional course. W credit requires significant amounts of writing, editing, and revision. Students will receive feedback on each written assignment and will then rewrite to raise the grade.

Graduate Students/ NEAR E 520

In additional to completing all other assignments and requirements, graduate students must undertake more sustained research and write a longer second essay (approximately 10 page). In this paper, graduate students must incorporate outside scholarship by referring to and citing at least five entries or essays from sources approved by the instructors.


Grading Scale

 4.0  = 98-100

3.9   = 96-97

3.8  = 94-95

3.7 =  92-93

3.6 = 91

3.5 = 90

3.4 = 89





Academic Concerns and Incompletes

Per FERPA rules, I cannot discuss grades via email. Please make an appointment to talk in my office or via Zoom if you have concerns.

Incompletes will be awarded only in accordance with UW policy.

There will be no make-up quizzes. Students who miss a quiz at the scheduled time, because of illness or other hardship, may complete an alternative assignment designated by the instructor. That assignment will not receive a grade but it will prevent the quiz grade from becoming a zero.

For missed in-class activities and homework assignments: When calculating final grades, the lowest grade will drop automatically. If you must miss more than one class session because of illness or other hardship: you may complete an alternative assignment. That assignment will not receive a grade but it will prevent the in-class or homework grade for that date from becoming a zero. As a general rule, the make-up assignments will be more challenging than coming to class. Assume a two-  to five-page paper (500 - 1250 words), on a topic designated by the instructor. It is the student's responsibility to communicate clearly and as promptly as possible with the instructor to arrange the alternative assignment.

Assignments submitted on Canvas have due dates and closing dates. Work should be submitted by the due date. Work that comes in late will lose points, as designated in the assignment instructions. Work cannot be submitted after the closing date.

Please keep a copy of all graded work. This is very useful in case the instructor’s record of grades is lost or damaged, or in case the student wishes to discuss a grade.  Protect yourself by keeping a copy.

The instructor may add or subtract some reading assignments from the syllabus during the quarter.


Access and Accommodations

This course is open to all UW students. The NELC Department welcomes you and your pronouns!

Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form ( (Links to an external site.).


I try to respond promptly to email from students, but I may not reply immediately. You may expect a response to take up to four or five days. 


Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

 If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 (voice and relay) or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.  More information is available at (Links to an external site.)


 Student Conduct

 The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at

In cases of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism or receiving inappropriate assistance on an assignment, offending students will be penalized in accordance with the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences. If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism or how to properly attribute credit to source materials, consult with the instructor.

For additional guidelines on academic integrity, Incompletes, grade appeal, concerns about an instructor, equal opportunity, disability accommodations, absences due to religious observances, sexual harassment, and safety, see the information available at (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)


Health and Well-being

The UW Food Pantry

A student should never have to make the choice between buying food or textbooks. The UW Food Pantry helps mitigate the social and academic effects of campus food insecurity. We aim to lessen the financial burden of purchasing food by providing students with access to food and hygiene products at no-cost. Students can expect to receive 4 to 5 days’ worth of supplemental food support when they visit the Pantry. For information including operating hours, location, and additional food support resources visit

We can be found on the North side of West Campus’ Poplar Hall at the corner of Brooklyn Ave NE and 41st.



It is important that we take care of ourselves inside and outside of class by learning how to care for our body, mind and spirit. Toward that end, there are many different kinds of support services on campus, including the Counseling Center, Hall Health, and the IMA. If you are concerned about yourself or a friend who is struggling, Safecampus, at 1-800-685-7233, is a very helpful resources to learn more about how to access campus-based support services. Please save the number for Safecampus, 1-800-685-7233, into your cell phones.

Attendance and class participation are important to the learning process. However, if you have symptoms of contagious illness – such as sniffles, sneezes, a cough, a sore throat, or a fever – please do not come to class.

The provost has asked faculty to share these links with all students. You can find information here about medical services and mental health support at UW. to an external site.


Course Concerns and Additional Notes

if you have any concerns about the class, try to resolve them first with your classroom instructor. If the matter is not resolved that way, there are other resources available to students to resolve complaints or grievances, including Humanities Academic Services (Links to an external site.), the Bias Reporting Tool, (Links to an external site.), the Office of the Ombud, (Links to an external site.), the University Complaint and Resolution Office, (Links to an external site.), and Disability Resources, (Links to an external site.)

By enrolling in this class, you make a commitment to regular and consistent class participation. Continued enrollment signifies that you have received a copy of this syllabus and that you have been notified of the requirements, examination schedule, and grading policies for the course.The instructor reserves the right to revise this syllabus at any time during the quarter. Students will be informed of the changes. 






GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
July 16, 2024 - 12:39 pm