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“Teaching Through Film: Hebrew Bible”

Tue, December 17, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hilton Bayfront San Diego, Aqua Salon F

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Session Sponsor: AJS Film Committee


This roundtable explores the pedagogical possibilities of teaching Hebrew Bible through films. Panelists will share experiences of teaching in their own classes, demonstrating examples of a film and assignment in class. The following questions will be highlighted: How do we use films to show how interpreters in all time periods fill in gaps in biblical text? How are films as biblical interpretation distinct from ancient, medieval, and modern textual interpreters? How can film reveal a textual tradition that goes beyond the canon of the Tanakh and its traditional interpretations? How have filmmakers used cinema to render women, gender, and sexuality visible? What do racialized depictions tell us about larger perceptions of Jews? How does using film allow us to teach the biblical text as inherently political, and to highlight new movements and social issues?

Panelists are scholars of religion, literature, and film. Wendy Zierler, Sigmund Falk Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at Hebrew Union College, will demonstrate the pedagogical method of "Inverted Midrash," which serves as the methodological backbone of her "Reel Theology" course at HUC-JIR and of her book, MOVIES AND MIDRASH, through a #Metoo-centered examination of the film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS in conjunction with the biblical story of David and Batsheva (II Samuel 11-12). Jessica Carr, Berman Scholar of Jewish Studies at the Department of Religious Studies at Lafayette College, will discuss screening NOAH in conjunction with Genesis 5-11 and 1 Enoch to teach about the process of canonization, the importance of Second Temple literature, and the non-linear process of mining Jewish tradition to make biblical texts relevant in new contexts. Rachel Havrelock, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago will show how the triad of Moses-Yocheved-Tzipporah as depicted in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, PRINCE OF EGYPT, AND GODS AND KINGS opens up questions of race, Jewishness, and how film has differently navigated questions of ethnic difference. The roundtable will be moderated by Olga Gershenson, Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. This pedagogical panel was organized by the AJS Film Committee.

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