Fellowship at the Katz Center: "America’s Jewish Questions"
The Herbert D. Katz Center at The University of Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for the 2020–2021 academic year on the theme of America’s Jewish Questions.
Over the past four decades, the methods, questions, and sources guiding the study of Jews in the United States have changed vastly even as the central narrative of American Jewish history has shifted only gradually. In particular, the story that "America is different"—that American Jewish experience has been marked by success and progress in contrast to the narrative sweep of European Jewish history—has remained entrenched in scholarship about American Jews.
New attention to the diversity of Jewish practices, politics, and peoples, at home and abroad, compels us to reconsider many of the basic assumptions and concepts that have shaped the study of American Jews. This fellowship year promises multiple entry points into some of the most pressing debates within US history and Jewish history, and intersects with vital questions shaping Jewish cultural studies, literary theory, and social scientific inquiry. Even as the recent rise of anti-Semitism and the emerging challenges to Zionism in the United States have been sources for contemporary Jewish debate, broader trends in Jewish scholarship over the last two decades also suggest the need for critical reinterpretations of American Jewish culture and community.
In an effort to make the most of this moment, the Katz Center invites applications from scholars pursuing research that revises, reframes, or expands our understanding of American Jews, their history, religious life, politics, culture, and experience. Possible topics may include but are not limited to: nationalism and sovereignty in globalizing contexts; religious experimentation and innovation; civil society and the state; constructions of gender, sexuality, and race; systems of jurisprudence and economics; aesthetic and cultural expression; linguistics; mobility, migrations, urbanism, and Jewish life in unexpected places. The fellowship year aims to be in conversation with developments beyond Jewish studies, and applications are welcome from scholars whose work crosses national or religious boundaries and who explore the complex connections that American Jews created throughout Europe, Latin America, Palestine/Israel, and other parts of the world. The Center also welcomes projects that engage in public scholarship or that seek to communicate to new audiences in new ways.
The Katz Center’s goal is to support individual projects, but it aims as well to encourage intellectual community, which means the ideal applicant will be one willing to learn from and work with scholars from other disciplines or focused on other periods, or animated by different approaches.