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2023 Divisions & Themes

Division Listservs

Questions? Email Mary Arnstein

DivisionDescription2023 Suggested ThemesChair(s)


In 2023, the AJS staff will use the AJS division to describe and schedule its meetings, receptions, and special events. The AJS division is not set up, this year, to accept proposal submissions, Those wishing to submit professional development or field-building proposals should reach out to Laura Leibman and/or Mary Arnstein to discuss the submission process. Alternatively, submitters are welcome to develop professional development proposals within a subject matter division (eg a session on editorial writing might be of interest to the Modern Jewish History in the Americas division, which is specifically seeking submissions on "Jews in the Media.")

For professional development and field building that don't fit the Divisions listed below, please email Laura Leibman and/or Mary Arnstein.

Mary ArnsteinLaura Leibman

Bible and the History of Biblical Interpretation

Literature of the Bible; world of the Bible; early post-biblical literature (Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls); reception of the Bible from antiquity to modern times; all areas of critical biblical scholarship and history of reception.

The Bible and History of Biblical Interpretation division invites proposals for sessions of all formats and for individual submissions that attend to the study of the Hebrew Bible and/or its interpretation and reception history. We welcome work engaging historical-critical as well as postmodern and interdisciplinary critical approaches, and seek to bring together scholars who work directly in Biblical Studies and specialists in other areas of Jewish Studies whose research interacts with the Bible in meaningful ways. Themes of interest include (but are not limited to): Biblical studies in relationship to Jewish Studies; Biblical reception and interpretation in Art and Music; gender, sexuality, and the Bible; Bible in/as translation; Scriptural materiality; Bible in interfaith discourse; authority, canonization, and the transmission of knowledge; Bible in/as medicine, science and piety.

AJ Berkovitz & Yael Landman

Disability Studies (Pilot Division)

We welcome panels, roundtables, and individual papers that engage with all areas of Disability Studies. We seek submissions by scholars, activists, and artists involved in disability studies in all fields and periods, and we encourage multidisciplinary engagements. We invite presenters to explore the ways in which disability intersects with gender, race, sexuality, class, religion, and nationalism.

The Disability Studies Division welcomes proposals exploring real-life experiences of people living with disability, as well as written, visual, audio, and kinesthetic representation of disability. Possible topics may include disability justice, disability culture, ableism in the Jewish world, LGBTQ+ and disability, and Crip Judaism.

Marco DiGiulio & Ilana Szobel

Gender and Sexuality Studies

The division seeks panels and papers grounded in women’s studies, feminist studies, Queer and LGBTQ+ studies, and related fields.

For the 2023 AJS Conference, we are particularly interested in work exploring the intersections between Jews, Judaism, gender, sexuality and the following topics: language and translation; presentation and performance; race and ethnicity; locality, nationalism, ethnonationalism, migration, and violence; bodies, embodiment, ability, and age; illness, medicine, and healing; innovative methods in gender and sexuality research; and comparative queer perspectives. Interdisciplinary panels are especially encouraged.

We are also interested in different modalities of presentation, including performances, as well as lightning sessions and round tables. Please reach out to us if you are thinking about new types of panels or are searching for panel participants and respondents.

Karolina Krasuska & Marjorie Lehman

Holocaust Studies

The Holocaust Studies division encourages panels and individual papers informed by a variety of approaches, including microhistorical, comparative and interdisciplinary ones.

The role of gender, class and age, questions of agency during the Holocaust; geographies of the Holocaust; material culture, religious practice and daily life, literature, and art; the forensic turn; commemoration of the Holocaust and the politics of memory, museums, and popular culture; new forms of Holocaust denial and distortion; comparative genocides; methodological reflections, sources, archives, databases, and digital humanities.

Natalia Aleksiun & Amy Simon

Interdisciplinary, Theoretical, and New Approaches

This division welcomes proposals that cross geographical, chronological, and disciplinary boundaries; considers theoretical approaches; and new methodologies in Jewish Studies.


Sarit Kattan Gribetz

Israel Studies

Multi- and interdisciplinary studies of Israeli society, culture, and politics

The Israel Studies division welcomes innovative proposals on the histories, cultures, and societies of Israel or Israel/Palestine, including through local, comparative, or transnational perspectives. We encourage proposals examining the following themes: One State, Two States, Non-State: Debating Polities and Borders Past and Present; Immigration, Emigration, and Migration; Contemporary Popular Culture; Palestinians and Israel; New Perspectives on the Ottoman and Mandate Periods; Women, Gender, Sexuality, and the Family.

Elizabeth Imber & Geoffrey Levin

Jewish History and Culture in Antiquity

This division examines the history and culture of the Jews and Judaism in the Persian, Greco-Roman, and Byzantine periods (from the sixth century B.C.E. through seventh century C.E.). We invite scholars to think about the larger historiographic and cultural contexts in which we write and interpret the Jewish past.

We encourage proposals on any topic related to Jews and Judaism in Late Antiquity. Some possible topics could include: knowledge production and knowledge collection in antiquity; technology and technological change; food; social relations with Greeks, Romans, and Christians; memory; ancient art; material culture; social-economic processes.

Gregg Gardner & Azzan Yadin-Israel

Jewish Languages and Linguistics from Antiquity to the Present

Linguistic, semiotic, or philological studies of Hebrew, Yiddish, and other Jewish languages; language instruction in Hebrew, Yiddish, other Jewish languages

Modern Jewish languages (e.g., Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish, Jewish Russian, and more) - documentation, endangerment, and revitalization; Jewish languages in historical perspective; Jewish languages in educational settings; Jewish languages and gender

Omri Asscher

Jewish Mysticism

Literature, history, and phenomenology of Jewish mysticism in all periods

We encourage proposals on any topic related to the study of Jewish mysticism. Some possible topics could include: Kabbalah and book history; Kabbalah, Gender, and Sexuality; Kabbalah and Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies; Mythopoetic Approaches to Kabbalah; Psychoanalysis and Kabbalah; Sociological Approaches to Jewish Mysticism; Kabbalah and Race; Kabbalah and History; Kabbalah and Messianism; Manuscript Studies and Kabbalistic Sources; Prayer and Ritual in Jewish Mysticism; Kabbalah and non-Halakhic Practices; Kabbalah and Christianity.

Hartley Lachter

Jewish Politics

This division welcomes proposals that explore how Jews have thought and acted politically, in various geographical spaces and in various eras from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. How has Judaism shaped, been shaped by, and challenged politics? What resources does Jewish studies have, as a field, for addressing the political?

Historical or contemporary Jewish political struggles; navigating Jewish power and powerlessness; Jewish political thought; Jewish political action and activism, politics of Jewish Studies

Samuel Brody & Meirav Jones

Jews, Film, and the Arts

Representation of Judaism and Jews in visual art, film, media, music, theater, and dance; the role of the arts in Jewish history and civilization; Jewish cultural production

Jews, Film, and the Arts division invites submissions that are interdisciplinary in nature, located at the intersection of the study of the arts (visual arts, music, film, theater, dance, multi-modal productions, etc.) and Jewish studies. Specifically, we are interested in engagements with Jewish thought and the arts, including Jewish thought, environment, and performance. We welcome submissions of all types of sessions, but specific to this division, we encourage submissions of the Performance/Scholarship format. This new format includes the actual cultural producers—artists, filmmakers, performers—in an interaction with scholars studying their work.

Olga Gershenson

Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History, Literature, and Culture

We welcome proposals that focus on all aspects of Jewish history, literature, and culture in the medieval and early modern Christian and Islamicate world and their broader contexts.

We encourage proposals on Jews and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity. We are particularly interested in sessions that focus on transregional networks, mobility and migration, the history of emotions, race, gender, and big data. We additionally welcome comparative proposals, and we hope to include a “new frontiers” session showcasing new methodologies and theoretical applications.

Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman & Francesca Bregoli

Medieval Jewish Philosophy

Jewish philosophy and thought, including science and medicine, in the medieval period

Literary Genres and Philosophy; The Social Context of Philosophical Activity; Philosophy and Medical Theory; Ethics; Solomon Ibn Gabirol; the Soul.

Guadalupe González Diéguez & Maud Kozodoy

Modern Hebrew Literature

Modern Hebrew literature and culture from the Haskalah to the present

We encourage submissions in any area of Hebrew literature and culture. This year we especially encourage submissions on:

The portrayal of aging in a narrative, the response to aging by a poet, the ways in which a particular work of literature has aged, early vs. late works

How do literary works create visual images, visual image in novels, the work made visual in cinematic adaptations, etc.

Literary style, what is fashionable: fashions, from Emuna Ben Yehudah's work forward

Nancy Berg & Naomi Sokoloff

Modern Jewish History in the Americas

This division seeks proposals that deal with aspects of Jewish life in the Americas

The Modern Jewish History in the Americas division invites panel and paper submissions that address the Jewish experience in the Americas - including, but not limited to historical topics and methods. We especially welcome submissions that address the following areas:

Borders and boundaries in American Jewish life

Jewish San Francisco

Representations of Jews in media, popular culture, and literature

Technology, AI, and American Judaism

Judaism and the American legal system

Jennifer Caplan & Laura Yares

Modern Jewish History in Europe, Asia, Israel, and Other Communities

The Modern Jewish History in Europe, Asia, Israel, and Other Communities division welcomes papers and panels that present case studies of individual Jewish communities in these regions, or that adopt comparative approaches to shed new light on methodological or theoretical themes.

Modern Jewish history in national, transnational, or comparative context. Immigration, migration, and mobility, borders and borderlands. Antisemitism and Jewish responses to authoritarianism.

Karen AuerbachAlma Heckman

Modern Jewish Literature and Culture

Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to literature from the vantage point of contemporary Jewish culture. An emphasis on voices and media from the margins.

While open to any and all proposals on subjects relevant to the study of modern Jewish literature and culture, the division of Modern Jewish Literature and Culture solicits proposals that pertain to Jewish literature in the contemporary moment. Some questions that might be of interest include:

In the face of political uncertainty, how has Jewish literature served as a form of protest, a form of literary activism,  and a forum for social change?

While the war in Ukraine rages, how has Jewish literature served as a form of cultural salvage?

How has the rise of antisemitism and the rise of racism led to renewed dialogue between Jewish Studies and African American Studies?

What are Jewish writers writing about LGBTQ members of the community and beyond?

What do scholars of Jewish literature expect Jewish literary study to accomplish today? What do we imagine we are doing when we study and teach Jewish literature? What role does the critic play in the articulation of answers to these disciplinary questions?

Finally, in a creative vein, how are scholars of Jewish texts turning towards their own creative responses to the world we live in?

Those who feel that they would benefit from discussion and/or assistance in forming collaborations on these topics prior to submitting a proposal are welcome to reach out to the division co-chairs, Sheila Jelen ( or Allison Schachter (

Sheila Jelen & Allison Schachter

Modern Jewish Thought and Theology

Jewish philosophy and thought in modern times; modern Jewish religious movements

Zionism and/as Jewish thought

New methodologies/approaches to Jewish thought (could be a pedagogy panel or a research panel)

Queer theory and modern Jewish thought

Jewish Thought and ‘others’ (thinking about Jewish thought in light of other ‘canons’ – Postcolonial, decolonial, Black Studies)

Modern Jewish thought as a subfield of Jewish Studies- how is it related to other sub fields like bible, rabbinical, history and anthropology (methodologies, regions, canons)

Unjustly forgotten and/or neglected figures in modern Jewish thought

Robert Erlewine & Claire Sufrin

Pedagogy and Professional Practice

The Pedagogy and Professional Practice Division seeks proposals on issues or themes relevant to the theory and practice of teaching within Jewish Studies.

The division generates scholarly conversation about teaching in the classroom, curriculum development, and the study of teaching and learning.

The division generates scholarly conversation about teaching in the classroom, curriculum development, and the study of teaching and learning.

Our division welcomes proposals for sessions on pedagogical issues and practices such as teaching a particular text or subject; coping with antisemitism on campus or identity issues in Jewish studies; teaching volatile subjects such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or religious extremism; designing non-traditional classes involving service learning or travel; supporting student mental health; and dealing with new technologies such as social media. This year we are also interested in a session that draws implications for current practices from the history of Jewish and religious education (e.g., hevruta in yeshivot; the rise of rabbinical seminaries, Hebrew schools and day schools; or early Zionist and Jewish cultural education).

Davida CharneyShira Klein

Rabbinic Literature and Culture

The Rabbinic Literature and Culture division seeks various types of submissions (papers, panels, method workshops (in pedagogy or research), roundtables, seminars) that foreground the texts produced by the rabbis who were active between the first and eighth centuries CE.

Text critical interpretation of local and global phenomena in one or several rabbinic works; methodological reflections; comparative study; reception history; rabbinics pedagogy; critical interventions from race studies, gender studies, animal studies, disability studies and other theoretical discourses; history of the book; historiography of the field; rabbinics and digital humanities.

Laura Lieber

Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies

The Sephardi-Mizrahi Studies Division welcomes proposals that explore all aspects of the histories, cultures, languages, politics, literary and intellectual creation, social formations, class dynamics, racial configurations, religious practices, arts and music, and diverse expressions of gender, sexuality, and disability among Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews.

This year, we are especially interested in panel submissions that: explore, interrogate, or challenge the meanings associated with terms like “Sephardi,” “Mizrahi,” and other related categories like “Ashkenazi;” that situate Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in conversation with each other, with other Jewish communities, and with neighboring societies and states; that seek to integrate, incorporate, or normalize Sephardi/Mizrahi studies within the broader context of Jewish Studies; or that challenge, revise, or overturn dominant narratives and scholarly paradigms in Jewish Studies by centering the perspectives and experiences of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews.

Yaron Ayalon & Aviad Moreno

Social Science

Social science approaches to global and transnational Jewish communities, including but not limited to sociology, anthropology, religious studies, sociolinguistics, communication and media studies, gender/sexuality studies, science and technology studies, political science, social psychology, with a special emphasis on ethnography.

The theme of the Social Science division for the 2023 AJS Conference is “Unconventional Approaches and Uncommon Knowledge in the Social Scientific Examination of Contemporary Jewry.”

We are especially interested in novel methodological and conceptual perspectives to the study of Jews, Judaism and Jewish life, including but not limited to comparative and transnational studies with understudied populations. We seek submissions that take qualitative deep-dives as well as quantitative gazes from 10,000 feet. Non-traditional panels, including seminars, lightning sessions, roundtables, are welcomed, in addition to conventional panels. Lightning sessions may be of interest to early career scholars or those in early stages of the research cycle, who may wish to tap in on feedback and conversation. Cross-division panels will be considered.

Orit Avishai & Adina Bankier-Karp

Yiddish Studies

Yiddish studies; Yiddish literature and its history; Yiddish culture

This year, we are especially interested in papers and panels that explore: Yiddish archives and institutions; Yiddish aesthetics; Yiddish, gender, and the canon; Yiddish engagements with theories of ethnicity and race.

Sunny Yudkoff