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Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations (NELC)

Hebrew Literature and Jewish Tradition - program requirements

 

Genizah imageNELC’s graduate program in Hebrew Literature and Jewish Tradition offers advanced study of Hebrew literature and language and Jewish culture and thought in their Near Eastern and/or Western contexts, in modern and pre-modern settings. The student is to follow the MA general procedures or the PhD general procedures of the department as a whole, but the following statements outline the regulations specific to the PhD program in Hebrew Literature and Jewish Tradition.

Students in the Hebrew Literature and Jewish Tradition program are expected to command Hebrew as a primary research language and another (usually Arabic, Greek or Yiddish) as a secondary research language. The specific distribution of courses varies by a student’s interests and specialization. Students are expected to work out the broad outlines of their programs in consultation with their faculty Adviser when they begin their studies. Expectations for individual students will be conveyed in writing to the Graduate Group Chair, with updates provided as necessary.

 

 

I. The Primary Field  

A. The M. A. Degree (12 c.u.) 

For the M.A. in Hebrew Literature and Jewish Tradition, students complete their study in their chosen Primary Field (for most students, the M.A. is the first stage toward completing the Ph.D. program, which includes study in an additional Secondary Field in Hebrew literature). 

A Primary Field is defined as one specific period in Hebrew literature. The options for the Primary Field are: 

  1. Biblical literature
  2. Rabbinic literature
  3. Medieval Hebrew literature
  4. Modern Hebrew literature

LanguagesStudents are expected to be at the Advanced level in Hebrew language (i.e. beyond completion of the 5th/6th semester). Entering students who need to take coursework to reach this level may do so, but such coursework will not be counted toward the 12 c.u. of the M. A. program. Two (2) course units in the secondary research language (e.g. Arabic, Greek or Yiddish) are also required, but, as with the Hebrew requirement, any additional language coursework will not be counted toward the 12 c.u. of the M. A. program. 

Reading knowledge of one European language (usually French or German) is also required. 

Course Distribution: The 12 courses, chosen with the advisor, will concentrate on literature and culture, or other relevant fields specific to the student’s Primary Field. 

At the conclusion of coursework (and once the European language reading exam has been passed), the student will prepare for Qualifying Examinations.

Upon successful completion of these exams, students can, as an option, prepare the M.A. thesis. Students wishing for a terminal M.A. degree may submit two lengthy term papers for consideration by the faculty instead of the M.A. thesis. 

B. The Ph.D. program (20 c.u.) 

The PhD program consists of a further eight (8) course units beyond those required for the M.A. program described above. (For students entering with an M.A. or equivalent degree from another institution, up to eight (8) course units MAY be transferred into this program at the discretion of the Hebrew faculty and the Graduate Chair of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Program). 

The Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature and Jewish Tradition requires students to complete both a Primary and a Secondary Field. As part of the M.A., the student will have completed 12 courses in his/her Primary Field.  For the Ph.D., students will take 8 courses in a Secondary Field.  A Secondary Field is defined as a specific period in Hebrew literature different from the student’s Primary Field. The options for the Secondary Field are: 

  1. The Bible
  2. Rabbinic literature
  3. Medieval Hebrew literature
  4. Modern Hebrew literature
  5. Hebrew literature from the Biblical period to the modern (this option will include a carefully selected group of texts from all major periods, excluding the period of the student’s major, that exemplify the development and continuity of Hebrew literature)

The 8 courses, chosen with the Adviser, will concentrate on literature and culture, or other relevant fields specific to the student’s Secondary Field. 

At the conclusion of course work, the student must pass a second reading exam in a European language, to be followed by comprehensive examinations. 

II. Secondary Field in The Continuity of Hebrew Literature 

Students wishing to take a Secondary Field in The Continuity of Hebrew Literature must demonstrate a thorough knowledge of Modern Hebrew equivalent to proficiency in Advanced Intermediate Hebrew courses at Penn (namely, through the fifth semester of the language sequence).  Proficiency may be demonstrated either through course work at Penn or through reaching the required level (80% aggregate) on the appropriate proficiency test. 

The Minor consists of 8 course units in selected courses that cover the continuity of Hebrew literature outside of the student’s primary field (E.g., students with a Primary Field in Medieval Hebrew Literature would concentrate in their Secondary Field on Biblical, Rabbinic, and Modern Hebrew Literature). The purpose of this Secondary Field is to study the continuity and discontinuity of Hebrew literature as it has developed throughout history.