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Midrash: Freshman Seminar

Paper Proposal

Freshman Seminar: Midrash

Reflecting on the larger issues discussed in this course, define a preliminary research topic that you would like to pursue and submit a one-page proposal, outlining a tentative topic or (several) research question(s). You may start with a broader topic, such as:

  • Biblical figures as reimagined in classical rabbinic interpretation (e.g., Isaac’s role in his Binding, Genesis 22).
  • The image of women as constructed by a specific Midrash (e.g., Alphabet of Ben Sira).
  • Midrash as biblical commentary vs. Midrash as a discourse on broader questions and themes (e.g., Does Genesis Rabbah draw its ideas from the Torah, or does it read them into the biblical text?).

And/or define your own, more focused question(s).

Required: To write this paper you should select at least two primary texts (e.g., from Stern and Mirsky, Rabbinic Fantasies, or the other assigned readings) and use them as evidence for your arguments.

Suggested: In addition, you are encouraged to engage with the secondary literature assigned for this course, such as chapters 2 and 4 from David Stern’s Midrash and Theory: Ancient Jewish Exegesis and Contemporary Literary Studies (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996), on A-res.

Optional: You don’t need to but you are welcome to look out for other primary (or secondary) sources. A wealth of Midrash traditions can be found in the anthology by Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 7 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1909-1938; reprint 1967-1968); the first 2 vols. are available as e-books through the Olin Library’s catalogue.

 In your research proposal, you want to briefly describe the major questions your project is meant to address and how your primary and secondary sources might be relevant for this project.

The proposal will be due on Thursday, November 17, at 2:30 pm (e-mail submission).

The final paper should average 5-6 pages and will be due on Friday, December 16, at 1:00 pm (further details TBA).