One author and his argument structure: Approaches to David Nirenberg's Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition

Students of the Technical University of Braunschweig, under the tutelage of Professor Daniel Ute, have spent a semester studying Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, (released in German, 2015) and have produced a companion guide that explores the text by chapter. With support from the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the project has been posted as an online publication to L.I.S.A., the Foundation's science web portal and can be found here

The German edition's title translates to Anti-Judaism: Another History of Western Thought, a variation from the the US edition, released two years earlier in 2013. 

The German edition's title translates to Anti-Judaism: Another History of Western Thought, a variation from the the US edition, released two years earlier in 2013. 

WATCH >> Harper Lecture with David Nirenberg: Religion and Violence

Recorded on April 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. 

The prominent place of religion in today’s geopolitics raises many questions: Does religion reduce violence or cause it? Are some religions more peaceful than others? How should we understand the role of religion in contemporary conflicts? In this lecture, David Nirenberg focuses on how the Qur’an, Torah, and New Testament have been read at different moments in history—including our own—in order to explore religion’s place in the politics of conflict and community.

David Nirenberg Receives Prestigious Ralph Waldo Emerson Award

By Jann Ingmire

OCTOBER 13, 2014

The Phi Beta Kappa Society has announced that David Nirenberg, dean of the Social Sciences Division, will receive the 2014 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award for his book, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition. Nirenberg is the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought.

The Phi Beta Kappa society describes the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, which was established in 1960, as honoring scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity in the fields of history, philosophy and religion.

“I was very surprised to be on the short list for this award and I was even more surprised to win it,” Nirenberg said. “I think the impact of the book is to show us that the ways in which we think about the world are often shaped by how we have learned to think about Judaism. So many of our most important critical categories in so many different areas of culture—religion, philosophy, economics, poetry and art, even mathematics and physics—have had a long history of learning to distinguish between good and bad by thinking about Judaism.”

One member of the panel that chose Nirenberg’s book wrote, “Anti-Judaism is a depressing book in what it reveals, but it is genuinely elevating in its high moral purpose, in the power of scholarship, and in its marshaling of rhetorical and linguistic resources in services of its lambent argument.”

“I wrote the book because I felt that it is dangerous not to be aware of how history shapes how we can perceive the world,” Nirenberg said.

Dean Nirenberg has a new book, “Neighboring Faiths: Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today,” published this month by the University of Chicago Press. “The new book is much less ‘depressing’ in that it is all about how each of these three religions took shape by looking and thinking about the others,” Nirenberg said. “This ‘co-production’ of religious cultures is an ongoing process that’s really dynamic, whether for good or ill.”

The Phi Beta Kappa Society will present the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award and a $10,000 prize to Nirenberg at a dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in December. Also being honored that evening will be authors receiving the Christian Gauss Award and the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science.


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David Nirenberg is a professor of history at the University of Chicago. His book Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition examines the durability and usage of anti-Jewish sentiments throughout history.

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David Nirenberg appointed next dean of Social Sciences Division

Professor David Nirenberg has been appointed dean of the Division of the Social Sciences for a five-year term, President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Eric D. Isaacs announced today. Nirenberg’s appointment takes effect on July 1.

Nirenberg is the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought and currently the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. He holds an academic appointment in the College and five academic appointments across the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions: in the Committee on Social Thought, Department of History, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Center for Jewish Studies. Nirenberg succeeds Dean Mario L. Small, the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology and of the College, who is stepping down after two years as dean.

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The New York Review of Books | Imaginary Jews

Review of Anti-Judiasm: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg

In 1844, Karl Marx published his essay “On the Jewish Question.” This wasn’t an engagement with Judaism, or with Jewish history, or even with the sociology of German Jews. Its occasion was the contemporary debate about Jewish emancipation, but its real purpose was to call for the overthrow of the capitalist order.

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