Jonathan Boyarin

Jonathan Boyarin
Diann G. and Thomas A. Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies
Cornell University

Jonathan BoyarinSince graduate school, I have been primarily a student of modern Jewish experience and culture. That concern has led me to investigate comparative and theoretical questions that help illuminate the lives of Jews and others. I have had the opportunity to do fieldwork in some of the greatest cities where those  Jews and others  live, including Paris, Jerusalem, and New York s Lower East Side. Much of my work has also been in historical ethnography, primarily of nineteenth and twentieth-century Polish Jewish life.

Jewish populations outside of Israel/Palestine have long been regarded as the diasporic communities par excellence, and thus scholars of Jewish studies are well-placed to participate in the new and rich field of comparative diaspora. This fact affords me continued engagement with colleagues doing post-colonial studies or studying a wide range of resistant and emergent identities worldwide.

One of my most enduring and rewarding engagements has been with the enduring importance of text in Jewish lifeā€”from the foundational scriptures, to the almost 2,000-year long tradition of rabbinic debate and commentary centered on the monumental Babylonian Talmud, to the remarkably central role of Jews in modern and postmodern Euro-American literature and criticism. The way Jewishness is shaped by text is fertile ground for blurring the lines between anthropology, history and literary cultural studies, and assures a field that is vastly richer than one scholarly career can encompass.

 

Selected Publications

Mornings at the Stanton Street Shul: A Lower East Side Summer (Fordham University Press, 2011)

The Unconverted Self: Jews, Indians, and the Identity of Christian Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2009)

Thinking in Jewish (University of Chicago Press, 1996)