Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture (2014 to 2019)
The aim of the Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture (CJMC) was to create an academic home at the University of Copenhagen for the discussion of three focal areas which are particularly prominent in Jewish thought, but which also have a much broader significance.
1) The Aim of CJMC
The aim of the Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture (CJMC) is to create an academic home at the University of Copenhagen for the discussion of three focal areas which are particularly prominent in Jewish thought, but which also have a much broader significance (see research focus).
The Jewish experience of centuries-long diaspora and exile, for instance, may become the point of departure for reflections on migration and multi-cultural identities. Since biblical times, existential questions concerning the human condition have crystallized in Jewish thought. The Shoah has made obvious the urgency of witnessing after genocide and the importance of remembrance. If, despite historical breaches, continuity, here, depends not on bloodline but on a text-line with inherent controversy (cf. Amos Oz), it is vital to keep alive the study of these texts and testimonies. CJMC focuses on Jewish thought, also as it manifests itself in non-discursive works of art. Seen from this perspective, Jewish tradition is not alien to modern culture, but part of and a critical edge within it.
CJMC’s multi-disciplinary approach is propelled by scholarly interests not only in classic, but also in forgotten or understudied Jewish sources and their capacity to enrich contemporary culture. The aim is to initiate a dialogue between foreign and familiar voices from the past and present, and to link internal and outside perspectives on Jewish thought.
2) CJMC in its Danish Context
In recent years, the field of Jewish Studies has been neglected at most Scandinavian universities – also in Denmark. This is all the more astonishing, given that Denmark is one of very few countries in Europe in which civil society seemed intact at a time when Jewish citizens elsewhere were persecuted.
In March 1814, the new Royal Decree gave Jews born in Denmark nearly the same rights as other citizens. Since then, the Jews have had freedom of faith and trade.
In October 2013, Denmark celebrated the 70th anniversary of the world famous rescue of the Danish Jews during World War II. With the help of the local population, most of them fled to Sweden and thus ninety-nine percent of Danish Jewry survived the Holocaust. This event has always appeared as a unique light in the darkness of the Nazi era. The Danish Jewish Museum – designed by Daniel Libeskind – shows the cultural history of Jewish life before and after Denmark’s liberation in 1945.
So far, all Faculties of Theology in Denmark have largely concentrated on Christianity, Islam, and their roots in ancient Judaism. Research institutions dealing with modern Jewish thought including its religious dimensions have been absent. CJMC will fill this lacuna. The center was opened at the University of Copenhagen on March 25, 2014. The members of CJMC’s international research team find that it is imperative to reestablish Jewish Studies in Copenhagen with a view to offering a public forum for exchanges of thought between scholars interested in Judaism and its impact in modern and postmodern philosophy, theology, psychology, history, sociology, literature, art, and culture in general.
The aim of the Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture (CJMC) is to create an academic home at the University of Copenhagen for the discussion of three focal areas which are particularly prominent in Jewish thought, but which also have a much broader significance.
More specifically, research at the center addresses questions aggravated by the Shoah. For instance: How do individuals and societies remember and pass on their experience of tragedy? How can they cope with the roles of victim, perpetrator, or bystander? How can the burden of a genocidal past be borne practically and reflected critically? These complex questions have ethical, social, political, and religious dimensions. They concern personal identity as well as human co-existence.
We explore Jewish (re)sources, particularly from the 19th to the 21st century, in order to clarify how this heritage can shed light on universal problems of re-orientation in the aftermath of historical and cultural catastrophes. The center has a triple research focus on (1) philosophy of language and post-Holocaust hermeneutics, (2) trauma, witnessing, and the mediation of memory, and (3) the problem of evil and images of (in)humanity.
- Christina von Braun, Prof. emer. Humboldt-Universität Berlin (DE)
- Rebecca Comay, University of Toronto (CA)
- Ingolf Dalferth, Claremont Graduate University (USA) / Prof. emer. University of Zurich (CH)
- Daniel Dayan, L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris (FR) / The New School for Social Research, New York (USA)
- Amir Eshel, Stanford University (USA)
- Barbara Hahn, Vanderbilt University (USA)
- Werner Jeanrond, University of Oslo (NO)
- Dori Laub (1937-2018), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven (USA)
- Avishai Margalit, Stanford (USA) / Prof. emer. Hebrew University of Jerusalem (IL)
- Samuel Moyn, Harvard Law School (USA)
- Paul Mendes-Flohr, University of Chicago (USA) / Prof. emer. Hebrew University of Jerusalem (IL)
- Yaron Peleg, University of Cambridge (UK)
- Melissa Raphael, University of Gloucestershire (UK)
- Susannah Radstone, University of South Australia (AU)
- Michael Rothberg, UCLA (USA)
- Eric Santner, University of Chicago (USA)
- Avi Sagi-Schwartz, University of Haifa (IL)
- Martin Schwarz Lausten (Prof. emer.), University of Copenhagen (DK)
- Hanne Trautner-Kromann (Prof. emer.), Lund University (SE)
- Christian Wiese, Goethe Universität Frankfurt (DE)
- Elliot Wolfson, University of California, Santa Barbara (USA)
About the plan of establishing the center:
- Claudia Welz: Description of current research and plans for the future on occasion of receiving the Elite Research prize (07.02.2013, see article and video-interviewon the homepage of the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education).
- Erin Davie and Mike Young: “Memory and identity after Auschwitz” in: University Post, University of Copenhagen (08.03.2013).
- Heidi Laura: “Nogen skal huske det” in: Weekendavisen 11 (15.03.2013), IDÉER, 8f.
- Claudia Welz: “Fokus på post-Holocaust teologi, filosofi og litteratur” in: TEOL-information 48 (2013), 10-13.
About the launch of the center:
- News posted by the University of Copenhagen: ”KU får center for moderne jødisk tænkning” (08.05.2014).
About the current situation in Denmark:
- Feature article by Claudia Welz: “Du skal ikke være en, der ser på” in: Weekendavisen 8 (20.02.2015), Kronik, 15.
- On May 4, 2015, Claudia Welz was invited to deliver the sermon at a Danish memorial service in Gilleleje Church on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Denmark’s liberation from German occupation in 1945. Read the sermon here
- Why do we need a research center for Jewish thought in modern culture - and why in Denmark? Article by Claudia Welz: “CJMC: Et tværfagligt forskningscenter for moderne jødisk tænkning på Københavns Universitet” in: Jødisk Orientering 87:2 (March 2016), 10-11.
- December 2014: Stine Holte, Meaning and Melancholy in the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. See description and contents
- March 2015: Ethics of In-Visibility: Imago Dei, Memory, and Human Dignity in Jewish and Christian Thought (Religion in Philosophy and Theology, vol. 77), ed. by Claudia Welz, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. See description and contents
- May 2015: Jan Schwarz, Survivors and Exiles: Yiddish Culture after the Holocaust, Detroit: Wayne State University Press. See description and contents
- July 2015: Diana Popescu and Tanja Schult (eds.), Revisiting Holocaust Representation in the Post-Witness Era, Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan. See description and contents
- August 2015: Emma O'Donnell, Remembering the Future: The Experience of Time in Jewish and Christian Liturgy, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. See description and contents
- October 2015: Martin Schwarz Lausten, Jews and Christians in Denmark: From the Middle Ages to Recent Times, ca. 1100-1948 (The Brill Reference Library of Judaism, vol. 48), trans. by Margaret Ryan Hellman, Leiden/Boston: Brill. See description and contents
- August 2016: Jessica Ortner, Poetologie „nach Auschwitz“: Narratologie, Semantik und sekundäre Zeugenschaft in Elfriede Jelineks Roman Die Kinder der Toten, Berlin: Frank & Timme. See description
- August 2016: Claudia Welz, Humanity in God's Image: An Interdisciplinary Exploration, Oxford: Oxford University Press. See description and contents
- September 2016: Jayne Svenungsson, Divining History: Prophetism, Messianism and the Development of the Spirit, trans. Stephen Donovan, New York/Oxford: Berghahn. See description and contents
- September 2016: Paul Auster & Inge Birgitte Siegumfeldt, En verden i ord. Paul Auster i samtale med Inge Birgitte Siegumfeldt, Copenhagen: Lindhardt & Ringhof.
- February 2017: Catherine Hezser, Rabbinic Body Language: Non-Verbal Communication in Palestinian Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity, Leiden/Boston, MA: Brill. See description
- August 2017: Jan Schwarz (ed. and trans.), Grønt avkarium - Fortællinger fra Litauens Jerusalem by Abraham Sutzkever, Multivers. See description
- September 2017: Paul Auster & Inge Birgitte Siegumfeldt, A Life in Words. Paul Auster in Conversation with I.B. Siegumfeldt, New York: Seven Stories Press. See description
- November 2017: Lars M. Andersson, H. Müssener, O. Glöckner and Lena Roos (eds.), Deutschsprachige Jüdische Migration nach Schweden 1774 bis 1945, Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter. See description
- December 2017: Jayne Svenungsson and Mårten Björk (eds.), Heidegger's Black Notebooks and the Future of Theology, Palgrave Macmillan. See description
- February 2018: Claudia Welz and René Rosfort (eds.), Hermeneutics and Negativism: Existential Ambiguities of Self-Understanding, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. See description and contents
- March 2018: Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke, Signe Bergman Larsen, Janne Laursen, Martin Schwarz Lausten and Hanne Trautner-Kromann, A Story of Immigration: Four Hundred Years of Jews in Denmark, Copenhagen: The Danish Jewish Museum.
- March 2018: Thomas Brudholm and Johannes Lang (eds.), Emotions and Mass Atrocity: Philosophical and Theoretical Explorations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See description and contents
In March 2014, the center's Director Claudia Welz founded CJMC with the help of the Elite Research Prize awarded to her in 2013 by the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Higher Education.
During the first 8 months of CJMC's existence, center activities have exclusively been funded by this prize. In the meantime we have attracted additional funding for CJMC conferences, workshops, lectures and PhD courses.
- Casper Løwenstein (MA in Philosophy, University of Copenhagen) interned with us at the center in August and worked there as a research employee between September 1 and November 30, 2014. On December 15, 2014, he took up a position as PhD student.
- Professor Shelley Salamensky (University of Louisville) joins us as a Fulbright specialist from September 25 to October 13, 2015. Her office is located at the southern campus (Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies, Njalsgade 128). Read more about her research
- Casper Løwenstein works as a research assistant at CJMC between August 1 and October 31, 2015.
- P. Johan Lose (MA in Literary Studies, Odense University) interns with us at CJMC between April 1 and May 31, 2017. From June 1 until July 31 and in December 2017, he is employed as editorial assistant.
- Cathrine Bjørnholt Michaelsen (PhD in Philosophy, University of Copenhagen) interns with us at CJMC for two months, starting on September 15, 2017.
- Tue Ravn (MA in Theology, University of Copenhagen) interns with us at CJMC in January and February 2018.
- Professor George Pattison (University of Glasgow & Max Weber Kolleg, University of Erfurt) will join us as a visiting scholar in February and March 2018. At CJMC he will explore religious calling, language, and moral sensibility in Rosenzweig and Levinas.
- David Lebovitch Dahl, PhD in History from European University Institute, is Edith Saurer Fellow and guest-researcher at CJMC and the Section of Church History, University of Copenhagen, in 2018-2019. David’s current project is about unmaking antisemitism in a Viennese Catholic parish in the 20th and 21st century.
- Affiliated Researchers in Scandinavia
- International Partners of Cooperation, Research Institutions and Programs
CJMC is honored to have the generous support of a large international network. Our Affiliated Members are predominantly based in Scandinavia while our Advisory Board Members and International Partners of Cooperation represent prestigeous research institutions across the world.