Andrea Schatz studied Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2003, she received her PhD from Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf and was awarded a research fellowship at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in Philadelphia, where she joined a research group on “Historical and Anthropological Perspectives in Jewish Studies”. From 2004–2007 she was a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University, teaching in the Religion Department and in the interdisciplinary programs in Judaic Studies and European Cultural Studies. After a few months at the University of Amsterdam, Andrea Schatz joined the Department at King’s College London in September 2008.
In 2009, Andrea returned for a semester to the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies to pursue her work in a research group on ‘Secularism and Its Discontents: Rethinking an Organizing Principle of Modern Jewish Life’ (online exhibit). From 2012–2015, she was a Co-Investigator of the AHRC-funded research project The Reception of Josephus in Jewish Culture from the 18th Century to the Present (Principal investigator: Martin Goodman, Oxford, Co-Investigator: Tessa Rajak, Oxford)
Research interests and PhD supervision
- Jewish intellectual and cultural history in early modern and modern Europe; Jewish-Christian contacts between Venice and Amsterdam, Berlin and London
- The European Enlightenment and its critics
- Jewish and postcolonial perspectives on religion, secularism, and the ‘Orient’
- Jewish print cultures & the Digital Humanities
My research focuses on the world of European Jews from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. This is a period of vast cultural and political change, but I am interested not only in the new opportunities and challenges that Jews faced during these centuries. At least as interesting are the continuities – the recurring or reappearing patterns of thought and practice – that shaped and complicated processes of transformation. In many ways, ‘tradition’ remained a dynamic part of religious and cultural innovation, but it now also offered space for a critique of Christian and secular conceptions of progress, ‘civil improvement’ and religious identity.
My book on the Hebrew language in the eighteenth century analyses the intertwined religious and secular contexts of its renewal as a modern language of the Jewish nation in the diaspora (2009, in German). It shows how Jews in the eighteenth-century drew – sometimes programmatically – on the cultural creativity of early modern Jews from Italy, Poland, the Habsburg Empire, the Netherlands and the Ottoman Empire to shape their place in the emerging modern secular states, while maintaining transnational links across the diaspora.
In the eighteenth century, the Hebrew language was increasingly associated with the ‘Orient’ rather than Europe, and I began to study how it became possible in Jewish contexts to write in Orientalist terms about Europe and the ‘East’ and simultaneously to resist and criticize this ‘style of thought’. This led to my current book project In a Fragile World: Exilic History among Early Modern European Jews, which investigates the 'historical library' of Ashkenazic Jews and shows how men and women engaged persistently and creatively with local and global history in Christian and Islamic lands. A related research project turns to Sefer Yosippon, a medieval chronicle based on Josephus’s work, and analyses its Yiddish translation as a remarkable case of ‘history in the vernacular’ at the intersection of Christian and Jewish interpretations of sovereignty and exile.
I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students who would like to pursue research projects in areas that relate to the themes mentioned above, including projects that seek to advance the cooperation between Jewish Studies and the Digital Humanities.
For more details, please see my full research profile.
- 4AAT1032 Constancy and Creativity: Jewish Interpretations of Tradition
- 5AAT2044 Religious Difference: Jewish, Christian and Other Perspectives
- 6AAT3052 European Jews and the ‘Orient’
- 7AATC720 Identities & Communities in Flux: Texts & Methods in Jewish Studies (coordinator)
- 7AATC740 Jewish Perspectives on Religion, Culture and Public Space
Andrea is also convenor of the MA programme in Jewish Studies and welcomes inquiries about the course from prospective students.
Expertise and public engagement
Public lectures (selected):
- Franz Hessel Lecture 2014, RWTH Aachen University & Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, Nov 2014.
- ‘Tausendundeine Nacht auf Jiddisch: Jüdische Interpretationen des “Orient”’, Guest lecture, Goethe University Frankfurt, June 2013.
- ‘A Language in Search of Its Author: The Early Modern Beginnings of Modern Hebrew’, Public lecture, Institute of Jewish Studies, UCL, February 2013.
- Numerous presentations at international conferences and workshops in Europe, Israel, and the United States.
Conferences organised (selected):
- EAJS Roundtable: ‘Turning the Page: Jewish Print Cultures and the Digital Humanities’ (with Irene Zwiep, Universiteit van Amsterdam, and Emile Schrijver, Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam), Universiteit van Amsterdam, 6–7 February 2017.
- A Joint King’s–UCL International Conference: ‘Language, Nation and Modernity: Hebrew in Europe, 1800–2000’ (with Lily Kahn, UCL), King’s College London and UCL, 10-12 May 2014.
- International Workshop: ‘Topoi of Time: Jewish Interpretations of Human and Other Temporalities’ (with Jonathan Boyarin, UNC Chapel Hill), King's College London, 23–25 May 2011.