Words of the Week: ChatGPT

How did ChatGPT respond when I asked it to design a syllabus for a course titled “Contemporary Jewish Short Stories”?

Let’s find out:

Course Title: Contemporary Jewish Short Stories

Course Description: This course explores the vibrant and diverse world of contemporary Jewish short stories. Through a selection of thought-provoking and engaging literary works, students will delve into the rich tapestry of Jewish culture, history, and identity as depicted in short story form. The course aims to foster critical thinking, cultural awareness, and a deeper understanding of the Jewish experience in the modern world.

Course Objectives:

  1. Examine the themes, motifs, and literary techniques employed in contemporary Jewish short stories.
  2. Analyze the ways in which Jewish culture, history, and identity are portrayed in the selected texts.
  3. Explore the impact of historical events on the Jewish community and how they shape the narratives.
  4. Discuss the intersection of Jewish identity with other identities, such as gender, race, and nationality.
  5. Develop skills in literary analysis, critical thinking, and effective communication through class discussions and written assignments.
  6. Enhance cultural awareness and sensitivity through the exploration of diverse Jewish voices and perspectives.

Course Outline:

Unit 1: Exploring Jewish Identity

  • Introduction to Jewish identity and its various dimensions
  • Jewish diaspora experiences and their influence on contemporary short stories
  • Works by prominent Jewish authors exploring Jewish identity and heritage

Unit 2: History and Memory

  • The Holocaust and its representation in contemporary Jewish short stories
  • Trauma, memory, and the transmission of history in Jewish narratives
  • Stories addressing Jewish experiences of persecution, resilience, and survival

Unit 3: Jewish Culture and Traditions

  • Jewish rituals, customs, and traditions as depicted in short stories
  • Contemporary stories reflecting the challenges of preserving Jewish traditions in modern times
  • Exploring the intersection of Jewish culture with other cultural identities

Unit 4: Jewish Voices and Diversity

  • Jewish voices from different countries and cultural backgrounds
  • Stories highlighting the experiences of Sephardic, Mizrahi, and other Jewish communities
  • Examining the concept of Jewish multiculturalism and its representation in literature

Unit 5: Gender and Sexuality

  • Jewish women’s experiences and feminist perspectives in short stories
  • LGBTQ+ identities and Jewish narratives
  • Intersectionality and the portrayal of diverse identities within the Jewish community

Unit 6: Contemporary Issues and Social Commentary

  • Jewish authors addressing current social, political, and ethical dilemmas
  • Exploring themes of social justice, inequality, and Jewish activism
  • Discussion on the role of literature in promoting social change


  • Participation in class discussions and activities: 20%
  • Critical analysis essays on selected short stories: 40%
  • Group presentation on a contemporary Jewish short story: 20%
  • Final research paper on a chosen topic related to Jewish literature: 20%

Note: This syllabus is a general guide and can be modified to suit the specific needs and interests of the course participants.

I have some thoughts about ChatGPT’s response to this question, but for the moment, I’m more interested in what you think about it. What, if anything, impresses you? What seems to be missing? Other observations?

an assortment of screens: laptop, phone, tablet, plus other desk items, and a text label that reads, "Words of the Week"

11 thoughts on “Words of the Week: ChatGPT

  1. Bill Teitelbaum says:

    Like most techniques of mass production the function of AI is to monetize mediocrity. Notice for example how this syllabus employs all the cliches and familiar intentions we expect from such offerings but not a whiff of originality, creativity or provocation that would attract anyone familiar with the field.
    If you think you’re bored now, just wait.

  2. Ellen k Halter says:

    I thought it was pretty incredible, though it contained too much breadth & not enough focus.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      I expected FAR worse!

  3. I have been thinking about this since you posted it now almost two weeks ago. At first, I much appreciated Bill’s comment above, which I do like, but I’m not a scholar and in truth I found what Chatgpt spat out horrifyingly adequate, and something like this would be especially tempting to use by underpaid adjuncts in many English and humanities departments. I’d been waiting to see what others might say about what you posted, anyways this is my response. It’s really the first time I’ve seen and understood what Chatgpt can do, by writing something close to home.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Stay tuned! More along these lines will be posted tomorrow!

  4. Interesting, and not bad, considering it is Chat GPT…But one glaring omission — no stories/units/topics related to Israel!
    I’ll be interested to see which specific stories ChatGPT suggests, if you’re going to ask…

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Indeed! I noticed that major omission, too.

      As for the specific stories: https://www.erikadreifus.com/2023/06/words-of-the-week-chatgpt-returns/

  5. Not bad. And less over-flourishing hype when you (me) ask for a certain story idea. Nothing about Jewish humor, but then Chat is not big on humor.

Comments are closed.