Jul 13, 2004 — On June 16, 1904, Dublin’s most famous fictional Jew wandered the city streets for some 30 hours before returning home. A century later, hundreds of thousands have retraced Leopold Bloom’s steps in tribute to his creator, author James Joyce, who immortalized Bloom in his seminal work, Ulysses.
During this centenary year of Bloom’s odyssey, Ireland’s capital city is feting its most important writer and the father of literary modernism. This is the impetus behind “Understanding the City,” a summer course under the aegis of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College. It brought YC students to London and Dublin to study how great artists weave urban locales into their work.
“Students in the course spent the first three weeks at Yeshiva College studying literature and creative writing. Then they explored London and Dublin for two weeks through literature, art, music, film, politics, geography, and history,” said Dr. Gillian Steinberg, lecturer and summer course coordinator. The trip, June 22 – July 5, included visits to museums, theaters, and universities.
But because Joyce made Bloom Jewish, students will also explore the author’s affinity for Jews.
“Joyce felt that Jews have a special gift for finding transcendent truth in the world and for sharing that truth,” said Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, the trip chaperone who is a Joycean scholar and senior rabbi at Riverdale Jewish Center.
Students in the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Stern College for Women also ventured off-campus to study their subjects up close. Students in the marine biology course, May 31-June 13, spent the first week learning about the field on the Israel Henry Beren Campus and the second conducting research at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center.
They collected specimens from various locales, such as mudflats and rocky coastline, and returned to the lab to examine their findings. “We learned so much in the week we spent there because the work was so hands-on,” said Meredith Weiss, a biochemistry major who begins an MD at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the fall.
A dredge of the Damariscotta River, which feeds into the ocean off Maine, yielded sponges, se stars, mussels, and shrimp, while the mudflat digs produced worms and clams.
The trip also introduced Ms. Weiss to the marine center’s research into the medicinal benefits of aquatic sponges and corals, an area the Florida native hopes to study later in her career.
Finally, students in the archaeology and ecology field course—open to both SCW and YC students—traveled to Israel July 6 – August 6 to work at Tell es-Safi/Gath, an archaeological site in the Biblical city of Gath.