ALEPH INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH CULTURE
Public Education Classes
The ALEPH Institute for Jewish Culture public education classes are designed to meet the needs of busy community members and high school students wanting to engage in a university course as well as DU students who are interested in additional study. The not-for-credit courses grew out of overwhelming demand to audit the Center for Judaic Studies academic courses. As part of the University of Denver’s commitment to the public good, the Center for Judaic Studies designed classes that are of the highest level of Jewish Studies and available to students of all ages. We are excited to be offering ALEPH classes through University of Denver’s University College program.
For more information or to register, please call 303.871.2291 or click here for the non-credit Enrichment Classes.
DU Students can also earn credit for ALEPH courses. Please contact Sarah Pessin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just Kidding: When Hollywod Laughs at the Taboo
Four sessions, $175/CRN 1018
Tuesdays, 7-9 pm, March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 2009
Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor, for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit. – Aristotle
When is a joke not just a joke? When it’s followed by the phrase, just kidding? In American vernacular this phrase usually disguises serious commentary with wit. The same phenomenon occurs when Hollywood uses humor to tackle sobering subject matters such as racism and the Holocaust. Join Janet Rumfelt, scholar in residence for DU’s Holocaust Awareness Institute, to examine contemporary, controversial, and comedic portrayals taboo subjects. Discuss Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical portrayal of anti-Semitism in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and comic Sarah Silverman’s bold use of racial stereotypes in her stand-up routine Jesus is Magic. Detractors dismiss their stereotyping as denigrating, but supporters argue that their comedy mediates a cultural debate on race that would otherwise not take place. Rumfelt also tackles Life is Beautiful and Train of Life, films about the Holocaust that initially stimulated controversy because they seemed to laugh at the monumental tragedy of the Holocaust. These films raise provocative questions: Is humor a suitable medium in which to represent the Holocaust? Is Holocaust laughter appropriate? What is the function of humor in Holocaust representations? Come away from this course with a greater understanding of the gravity of humor and its functions in contemporary film.
Janet Rumfelt is a Ph.D. candidate in religion, ethics, and philosophy at Florida State University. In 2004, she was accepted into the Center for Advanced Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.