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2020 Divisions & Themes



The AJS Division provides the opportunity for submissions in the areas of professional development and field building. Because the AJS Division is intended for a distinct group of submissions that do not categorically fit into other academic divisions, the committee will only accept submissions that identify the AJS Division as its primary division. The program committee will review these proposals.

Professional development and field building

Program Committee

Bible and the History of Biblical Interpretation

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

The role of the Bible in Contemporary Judaism (w/ Modern Jewish Thought and Theology); the birth of Historical Criticism; Bible-like compositions after the Bible (w/ Jewish History and Culture in Antiquity).

David Lambert & Jacqueline Vayntrub

Gender and Sexuality Studies:
Pilot Division

We welcome panels and papers that advance the multidisciplinary field of gender and sexuality studies. This includes—but is not limited to—research that engages with women’s studies, the study of masculinities, queer studies, trans studies, and LGBTQ+ studies. We particularly encourage scholarly conversations that cross methodological, historical, and regional boundaries.

Topics we would especially welcome include the intersections of Jewishness, sexuality and gender with the study of ethno-nationalism; canonical texts; art and performance; family formation; embodiment; queer Jewish ritual; dynamics of power and oppression; the critical study of emotion; government and politics; sustainability and the environment; plants, animals, and other non-human actors.

Caveats: This is not the proper venue for presentations or workshops focusing on gender equity within Jewish studies or its subfields. While such presentations are an ethical imperative and crucial to the viability of the field, gender equity is the responsibility of every division of the AJS, not just units that promote the critical study of gender. Proposals about gender equity in Jewish Studies should be submitted to the AJS Division.

This is also not the proper venue for papers or panels that do not critically engage categories of gender and sexuality, even if they focus on a female or LGBTQ subject.

Jennifer Caplan & Rachel Kranson

Holocaust Studies

The Holocaust Studies division encourages individual papers and panels informed by comparative and interdisciplinary approaches.

The role of gender during the Holocaust; US government responses to the Holocaust; commemoration of the Holocaust; the Holocaust and art; the "third generation"; the future uses of testimony; access to archives and ethical issues related to the use of archives.

Natalia Aleksiun & Gabriel Finder

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.

David Shneer

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.

Caveat: Before submitting, please note the descriptions for the Pedagogy and Jewish Politics divisions to decide whether those might be the more appropriate divisions for your panel or paper.

Liora Halperin

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: Household religion; Jews and Christians; apocalypticism; "law" as a category in ancient Judaism; Jews under foreign rule; material culture; bilingualism; impact of the Cairo Geniza on the study of late antiquity; teaching late antiquity (pedagogy); economic history; Jews and Judaism in their Sasanian contexts.

Michal Bar-Asher Siegal & Gregg Gardner

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

Endangered Jewish language varieties (e.g., Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Tat, Jewish Malayalam): Shift and postvernacularity; Developing Jewish language varieties (e.g., Jewish English, Jewish Latin American Spanish, Jewish Russian): Variation and change; Hebrew and Diaspora languages: Mutual influence​; Jewish Languages and gender; Historical Linguistics of Jewish languages.

Renee Perelmutter

Jewish Mysticism

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

Kabbalah and the Arts; Psychological Approaches to Mysticism; Mysticism and the Mitzvot; Mysticism as Literature; Modes of Theology in Jewish Mysticism; Identity, Gender, and Sexuality; Mystical Circles and their Social-Historical Dynamics; Dimensions of the Sacred: Time, Space, Person, Book

Eitan Fishbane

Jewish Politics

This division investigates how Jewish identity has been mobilized and deployed in historical and contemporary political debates and struggles; how contemporary politics in various geographical spaces and in various eras have, and do, shape Jewish identity; and how the profession of Jewish Studies contends with politics, particularly around questions of identity, loyalty, and dissent.

Historical or contemporary Jewish political struggles; Navigating Jewish power and powerlessness; Jewish political theory; Politics of Jewish Studies

Joshua Shanes & Mira Sucharov

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

Along with a range of submissions on visual art, film, media, music, theater, and dance, Jews, Film and the Arts Division has a new initiative. In collaboration with the AJS Film Committee, the Division is seeking submissions to panels/roundtables organized in conjunction with screening of two films, Broken Barriers (Khavah) and Incitement:

Broken Barriers (Khavah)
Charles Davenport 1919 USA 76 minutes. Silent with English intertitles This long-lost 1919 silent gem, based on the same Sholem-Aleichem stories as Fiddler on the Roof, follows Tevye the milkman’s daughter Khavah, who falls in love with the gentile boy Fedka and must navigate the reverberations from this with her community and her family. New restoration by the National Center for Jewish Film.

Subjects of interest include (but not limited to):
 • comparative analysis of adaptations of Sholem-Aleichem’s stories to stage and screen across cultures
 • adaptations of Sholem-Aleichem in historical contexts
 • new scholarship on Sholem-Aleichem’s stories


Yaron Zilberman 2019 Israel 122 minutes Hebrew with English subtitles This gripping historical drama, Israel’s submission for the 2020 Academy Awards, follows the radicalization of Israeli ultranationalist Yigal Amir in the year leading up to his assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Subjects of interest include (but not limited to):
 • nationalist politics in Israel, historical and contemporary
 • Rabin’s legacy
 • tensions between history and narrative in historical fictions
 • use of archival footage in narrative film

Olga Gershenson

Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History, Literature, and Culture

Jewish history in Muslim and Christian realms; Jewish literatures including but not limited to belles lettres, piyyut, and exegesis; medieval and early modern Jewish art, artifacts, and architecture

Eve Krakowski & David Shyovitz

Medieval Jewish Philosophy

Jewish philosophy and its history in medieval and late medieval times

Emotions, Embodiment, and the Pursuit of Wisdom; Medieval Theories of Knowledge and the Neurosciences today; The Literary Genres of Medieval Philosophy.

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

Modern Hebrew Literature

Hebrew literature from the Haskalah on, including contemporary Israeli literature

We would like to encourage expansive comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to modern Hebrew literature. Such approaches might consider how Hebrew literature engages with other literary traditions or other disciplines through, for example: Translation to and from Hebrew; Specific theoretical paradigms, such as Disability Studies, Queer Theory, the Post-Human; Interaction with languages and/or literary traditions not usually associated with Hebrew culture; The dialogue between Hebrew literature and extra-literary factors such as economics, the environment, or medicine

Karen Grumberg

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.

Daniella Doron & Paul Lerner

Modern Jewish History in the Americas

This division seeks proposals that deal with some aspect of Jewish history in the Americas.

Explore race, migration, anti-Semitism, or transnational themes; Engage in conversation with neighboring fields such as American history and modern Jewish history; Offer an element of research on Sephardi, Mizrahi, or non-Ashkenazi Jews; Broaden our understanding of the Americas beyond the United States.

Mike Cohen & Sarah Imhoff

Modern Jewish Literature and Culture

American Jewish literature; European Jewish literature; modern Sephardic literature; and their cultural contexts

Climate, Environment, Inequality

Amelia Glaser & Kerry Wallach

Modern Jewish Thought and Theology

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

Jewish theological developments in 19th and early 20th century Middle East and North Africa; Mizrahi Jewish theology; Haskalah and Nahda; the impact of slavery and colonialism on modern Jewish self-understanding; Jewish theology as a divine economy; Judaism, gender and physicality; understandings of prayer in modern Jewish thought; the influence of Hasidism on Zionist and anti-Zionist thought; opening the boundaries of Jewish thought for the future; Jewish Studies as modern Jewish thought; philology, orientalism and imperialism; the influence of Protestant theology on Jewish self-understanding; engagements with democracy and fascism in modern Jewish thought; Jewish theological resources for combatting environmental devastation; reading modern Jewish thought through the lens of contemporary feminist theory; Jewish accounts of justified and unjustified secular political authority.

Susannah Heschel

Pedagogy and Professional Practice

The pedagogy division seeks individual papers, panels, or roundtable sessions on issues or themes relevant to the theory and practice of teaching Jewish Studies. The pedagogy division is broad in conception and hopes to generate scholarly conversation about teaching both as it relates to the classroom and to questions of curriculum development in the field of Jewish Studies.

For example, we welcome proposals on topics such as: new research in the scholarship of teaching and learning, teaching a particular text or subject in Jewish Studies, issues of identity in Jewish Studies classrooms, technologies and practices in the classroom, and language pedagogy.

Sarah Zarrow

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 been the first and eighth centuries CE.

Text critical interpretation of local and global phenomena in one or several rabbinic works; Methodological Reflections; Reception history; Daf Yomi and Contemporary popularization; Rabbinics Pedagogy; Critical Interventions from Gender Studies, Animal Studies, Disability Studies and other Theoretical Discourses; History of the Book; Rabbinics and Digital Humanities.

Mira WassermanBarry Wimpfheimer

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 and sexuality among Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews.

This year, we are speciallly 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; and that seek to challenge, revise, or overturn dominant narratives and scholarly paradigms in Jewish Studies by centering the perspectives and experiences of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews.

Adriana Brodsky & Devin Naar

Social Science

Sociology, anthropology, folklore, political science, and social psychology as applied to Jewish communities

Helen Kim & Ayala Fader

Yiddish Studies

Yiddish literature and its history

Yiddish and Jewish Humor; Yiddish and Hebrew; Yiddish and Translation; Sholem Aleichem in Fiction and Film

Ken Frieden