Adam Y. Stern - "Survival: A Theological-Political Genealogy" - Sam Catlin, Kristen Collins, and Sarah Hammerschlag

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Adam Y. Stern

Adam Y. Stern will discuss Survival: Theological-Political Genealogy. He will be joined in conversation by Sam Catlin, Kristen Collins, and Sarah Hammerschlag.

Presented in partnership with the Joyce Z. and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies

Virtual event


About the book: In Survival, Stern asks what texts, what institutions, and what traditions have made survival a recognizable element of our current political vocabulary. The book begins by suggesting that the interpretive key lies in the discursive prominence of "Jewish survival." Yet the Jewish example, he argues, is less a marker of Jewish history than an index of Christianity's impact on the modern, secular, political imagination. With this inversion, the book repositions Jewish survival as the supplemental effect and mask of a more capacious political theology of Christian survival. The argument proceeds by taking major moments in twentieth-century philosophy, theology, and political theory as occasions for collecting the scattered elements of survival's theological-political archive. Through readings of canonical texts by secular and Jewish thinkers—Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Franz Rosenzweig, and Sigmund Freud—Stern shows that survival belongs to a history of debates about the sovereignty and subjection of Christ's body.

About the author: Adam Stern joined the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic and the Center for Jewish Studies in 2019. He previously held a position as a postdoctoral associate in the Whitney Humanities Center and Program for the Study of Antisemitism at Yale University. His book, Survival: A Theological-Political Genealogy, was published with the University of Pennsylvania Press (2021). Other work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Journal of Religion, Word & Image, CR: The New Centennial Review, and Critical Times. He is currently working on a second book project, tentatively entitled No Hands: An Archaeology of Emancipation.

About Sam Catlin: Sam Catlin is a joint Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Divinity School (Religion, Literature & Visual Culture concentration) at the University of Chicago. His research is disciplinarily located within and between literary theory and criticism, rabbinics, intellectual history, and religious studies. His dissertation, “The Rest is Literature: Midrash and the Institution of Theory,” offers an intellectual-historical and literary-theoretical interpretation of the brief, unlikely surge of interest in rabbinic midrash among American literary theorists in the 1980s.

About Kristen Collins: Kirsten Collins is a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

About Sarah Hammerschlag: Sarah Hammerschlag is a scholar in the area of Religion and Literature. Her research thus far has focused on the position of Judaism in the post-World War II French intellectual scene. She is the author of The Figural Jew: Politics and Identity in Postwar French Thought and Broken Tablets: Levinas, Derrida and the Literary Afterlife of Religion and the editor of Modern French Jewish Thought: Writings on Religion and Politics. The Figural Jew received an Honorable Mention for the 2012 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award, given by the Association of Jewish Scholars, and was a finalist for the AAR’s Best First Book in the History of Religions in 2011. She is currently working on a manuscript entitled “Sowers and Sages: The Renaissance of Judaism in Postwar Paris.”

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