David Sorkin designated the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Judaic Studies

David Sorkin, newly named as the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Judaic Studies, focuses his research on finding new approaches to the intersection of Jewish and European history since the 16th century.

David Sorkin (photo by Michael Marsland)

Sorkin first examined the formation of Jewish culture in the German states, which he came to understand as a “subculture.” The resulting book, “The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780-1840,” won the Present Tense/Joel H. Cavior Literary Award for History. In a commissioned study of Moses Mendelssohn’s Jewish thought, “Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment,” he emphasized neglected Hebrew works. The volume has been translated into French, German, and Italian. In the Sherman Lectures delivered at Manchester University (U.K.) he used comparison to remove the “Haskalah” (Jewish Enlightenment) from its conventional parochial setting. Those lectures were published as “The Berlin Haskalah and German Religious Thought.” In his most recent book, “The Religious Enlightenment:  Protestants, Jews and Catholics from London to Vienna,” Sorkin reconceived the relationship of the Enlightenment to religion.

The Yale professor is the co-editor of “Profiles in Diversity:  Jews in a Changing Europe, 1750-1870,” “New Perspectives on the Haskalah,” and “What History Tells: George L. Mosse and the Culture of Modern Europe.” He also served as associate editor of “The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies,” which won the National Jewish Book Award. He is currently writing a history of Jewish emancipation in Europe.

After receiving his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sorken attended the University of California-Berkeley where he was awarded an M.A. and a Ph.D. Oxford University awarded him a special election M.A. in 1990. Before coming to Yale in 2014, Sorkin previously taught at Brown University, Oxford University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the City University of New York-Graduate Center.

Sorkin has received grants from the British Academy, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has twice been a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and has taught at the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa). He has also been a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institut für Geschichte (Göttingen); All Souls College, Oxford; the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala. 

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