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2021 Divisions & Themes

Questions? Email Michelle Katz



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

Wildcard Division: Disability Studies

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.

Gili Hammer & Ilana Szobel

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

Theory of gender/sexuality and critical race theory in the study of biblical literature and in the history of biblical interpretation; moving knowledge in biblical literature: including but not limited to studies of transmission (of text, object, knowledge, responsibility, etc.), inter-generational relationships, testament, prophecy, and communication between the living and the dead

David Lambert & Jacqueline Vayntrub

Gender and Sexuality Studies

The unit seeks panels and papers grounded in women’s studies, feminist studies, Queer and LGBTQ+ studies, and related fields. Please send proposals focused on gender equity in Jewish studies to the AJS Division.

For the 2021 AJS 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, and violence; bodies, embodiment, ability, and age; illness, medicine, and healing. We are also interested in different modalities of presentation, including performances.


Jennifer Caplan & Rachel Kranson

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 agency during the Holocaust; geographies of the Holocaust; material culture, literature and art; the forensic turn; commemoration of the Holocaust and the politics of memory; new forms of Holocaust denial; comparative genocides; the use of testimony and access to archives

Hana Kubátová & Natalia Aleksiun

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: “the other”; death; liminality; culture; social network; digital humanities for the study of late antiquity; methods and approaches from the social sciences; materiality and material religion.

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

Modern Jewish languages documentation (e.g., Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Jewish Hungarian, Jewish Russian, and more); Jewish languages: endangerment and revitalization; programming to honor the contributions of Prof. Yehoshua Blau (1919-2020) to the fields of Judeo-Arabic, Hebrew linguistics and other Semitic languages; Jewish languages in antiquity and the medieval period

Renee Perelmutter

Jewish Mysticism

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

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 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

Submissions in the field of visual arts; Jews and photography; music during the Holocaust; Jews and genre films

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 times

Literary Genres of Medieval Jewish Philosophy; Medieval Jewish Philosophical Activity and its Social Context; Medieval Jewish Philosophers and the Environment; Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Medical Theory

Guadalupe Gonzalez Dieguez & Maud Kozodoy

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.

Adriana Jacobs

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 themes related to race, migration, borders and crossing, antisemitism, or Jews of color; 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

This year has led many scholars to think about the unique challenges of creativity in isolation, as well as the patterns of experimentation and resistance that connect the 2020s with conversations of a century earlier. This year’s theme, “Creative Cycles,” invites scholars to explore the historical cycles that have generated and patterned literary experimentation, as well as literature created under duress.

Amelia Glaser & Kerry Wallach

Modern Jewish Thought and Theology

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

Jewish political theology; modern accusations of heretical ideas; Jewish ethics, moral teachings, and innocence; race in Hasidism, neo-Hasidism, and Orthodox theology; globalism and Jewish thought; magic, religion and secularism; configurations of gender and race in modern Jewish thought; Jewish thought and crises; Mizrahi thought; imperialism, colonialism and slavery as reflected in Jewish thought

Susannah Heschel

Pedagogy and Professional Practice

The pedagogy 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.

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, 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 between 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 Race Studies, Gender Studies, Animal Studies, Disability Studies and other Theoretical Discourses; History of the Book; Rabbinics and Digital Humanities.

Mira Wasserman & Barry 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, 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 & Devi Mays

Social Science

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


Ayala Fader & Helen Kim

Yiddish Studies

Yiddish literature and its history; Yiddish culture

This year, we are especially interested in German-Yiddish Studies, Yiddish and popular culture, Yiddish and questions of translation, Yiddish material culture, and Yiddish Studies as an interdisciplinary field.

Sunny Yudkoff