Some of the Jewish scholars that Michal Ben-Horin and Galili Shahar will research as Felows include Chaim Nachman Bialik, Gerchom Scholem, Franz Rosenzweig and Arnold Schoenberg.

Above: Some of the Jewish scholars that Michal Ben-Horin and Galili Shahar will research as Felows include Chaim Nachman Bialik, Gerchom Scholem, Franz Rosenzweig and Arnold Schoenberg.

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Faculty Members Named as Fellows to Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

Two faculty members in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Michal Ben-Horin and Galili Shahar, have been named 2009–2010 Fellows at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. The fellowship program’s theme for 2009–2010 is Secularism and its Discontents: Rethinking an Organizing Principle of Modern Jewish Life.

Each year, the fellowship program invites approximately 20 scholars to conduct research within the field of Judaic studies. The fellowship perks include an office at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in downtown Philadelphia and research support from the Katz Center's staff and librarians.

During the course of the year, Ben-Horin and Shahar will work on their individual projects and meet at weekly seminars to discuss their ongoing work in the company of their colleagues and students at the University of Pennsylvania. At the end of the fellowship, the results of their year of research will be presented at a colloquium and the University of Pennsylvania Press will publish their papers.

Michal Ben-Horin

Michal Ben-Horin’s (Ph.D., Tel Aviv University) research interests include comparative literature with a focus on Hebrew and German literature, musical theories, medial representation and poetics of memory. She is currently working on representations of violence, narrative, and musical discourse in contemporary Israeli literature and culture. Her fellowship project, New Music and Jewish Secularization, will introduce a musicological interpretation of Jewish secularization. She will explore the way “new music”—the modernist musical school of Arnold Schoenberg—embodies and manifests the tensions inherent in the process of secular Judaism and will examine how religious content is transformed into art and how the monotheistic law that prohibits making any image of God is translated into musical representation of the modern Jewish being.

Galili Shahar

Galili Shahar’s (Ph.D., Tel Aviv University) research interests include German cultural history, German-Jewish literature and thought, comparative literature (German, Austrian, Israeli), theories of modernism, aesthetics, and theatricality. In his fellowship project, The Un-Sacred Language The Metaphysics of the New Hebrew and the Dialectic of Secularization, he will attempt to reconstruct the philosophical, philological, and political complexities of the debate on the New Hebrew, especially in the modernist context of the German-Jewish discourse, and to provide a critical model of secularization. He argues that the debate on the New Hebrew is an example of the “dialectic of secularization” and the “return of the sacred” in modernist Judaism and world politics. The reflections on the New Hebrew illustrate not only the complexities of the Zionist project and the political anxieties of German Jewish thinkers, but also provide evidence for the paradoxes of secular Judaism. The New Hebrew can thus serve as a model of an un-sacred language—a discourse in which the theological is not understood simply as an opposite of the secular but rather as its hidden, denied side that is embedded in all layers of modern being.

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Jeff Stevens

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Arnold Schoenberg by Florence Homolka

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