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Lori Lefkovitz

Ruderman Professor and Director of Jewish Studies Program; Professor of English; Director, Humanities Center

Lori Hope Lefkovitz, Ruderman Professor and Director of the Jewish Studies Program and Director of the Humanities Center, is the author of In Scripture: The First Stories of Jewish Sexual Identity (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010), which was named a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Women’s Studies. Her awards include a Fulbright professorship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an academic fellowship at the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis, a Woodrow Wilson dissertation fellowship in the Women’s Studies Division, and a Golda Meir post-doctoral fellowship at Hebrew University. She was the founding director of Kolot, the Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where she held a chair in Gender and Judaism, and is the founding executive editor of the website, Professor Lefkovitz holds a BA from Brandeis University and an MA and PhD from Brown University. Her books include: Shaping Losses: Cultural Memory and the Holocaust (with Julia Epstein), Textual Bodies: Changing Boundaries of Literary Representation, and The Character of Beauty in the Victorian Novel. She is widely published in the fields of literature, critical theory, and Jewish feminist studies, serves on editorial, professional, and community boards, and lectures widely in academic and Jewish contexts.

  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 2012
  • Fulbright Professorship (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Philadelphia Institute for Psychoanalysis
  • Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Grant


  • In Scripture: The First Stories of Jewish Sexual Identities (2010)
  • Shaping Losses: Cultural Memory and the Holocaust (2001, ed. with Julia Epstein)
  • Textual Bodies: Changing Boundaries of Literary Representation (edited, 1997)
  • The Character of Beauty in the Victorian Novel (1987)


  • “The Sense of Beshert: Contingency in Nicole Krauss’s History of  Love and Dara Horn’s The World to Come for MLA Options for Teaching Jewish American Literature (MLA series) edited by Rachel Rubinstein and and Roberta Rosenberg, 2020
  • “In the Spaces Between,” invited chapter for multimedia conversation, Qorbanot, edited by Alisha Kaplan and Toby Kahn, SUNY Press, 2020
  • “Invisible Ink: The Limits of Recovery,” with Julia Epstein. In Translated Memories; Transgenerational Perspectives in Literature on the Holocaust. Edited by Bettina Hofmann and Ursula Reuter. Lexington Books, 2020
  • “Kolot”; “Deborah Waxman”; encyclopedia entries for Jewish Women’s Encyclopedia, JWA, online, 2019
  • “Patriarchy: Undermined at its Origins,” AJS Perspectives, April 2019
  • “In Medias Res:  Innovation, Interruption, and the Jewish Story,” Festschrift for Gail Reimer, 2014
  • “The Challenge of Interdisciplinarity: A Conversation about Introductory Courses to Jewish Studies” (with David Shneer and Shelly Tenenbaum), Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 32:4, summer 2014
  • “Not a Man:  Joseph and the Character of Masculinity in Judaism and Islam” Gender in Judaism and Islam: Common Lives (Uncommon Heritage)
  • “The Genesis of Gender as Transgression,” Jewish Quarterly Review
  • “‘Demand a Speaking Part!’ The Character of the Jewish Father,” in Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Jewish Thought
  • “Balak,” in Torah Queeries
  • “The Politics and Aesthetics of Jewish Women’s Ritual” (with Rona Shapiro) in The New Jewish Feminism
  • “Judaism, Body Image, and Food,” in Jewish Choices/Jewish Voices
  • “Prayer,” Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender
  • “Reflections on The Future of Jewish Feminism and Jewish Feminist Scholarship,” “ Loading the Virtual Canon” (with Rona Shapiro), Nashim
  • “Miriam: A Reconstruction” The Women’s Passover Companion
  • “Passing as a Man: Narratives of Jewish Gender Performance,” Narrative
  • “Inherited Holocaust Memory and the Ethics of Ventriloquism”(special mention for Pushcart Prize)
  • “Delicate Beauty Goes Out: Adam Bede’s Transgressive Heroines,” Kenyon Review rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism
  • “Eavesdropping on Angels and Laughing at God: Theorizing a Subversive Matriarchy,” in Gender and Judaism
  • “Leah Behind the Veil: The Divided Matriarchy in Bible, Midrash, Dickens, Freud, and Woody Allen,” rpt. In Sister To Sister
  • “Sacred Screaming: Childbirth in Judaism,” in Lifecycles
  • “Antigone Anxiety: Manly Girls, Emasculated Men and the Transcendence of Gender,” in Gender, Race, and Identity
  • “Her Father’s Eyes, Staff, and Support: The Sage Author as Phallic Sister in Nineteenth-Century Fiction,” in Victorian Sages and Cultural Discourse: Renegotiating Gender and Power
  • “The Subject of Writing Within the Margins,” in Reorientations: Critical Theories and Pedagogies
  • “Creating the World: Structuralism and Semiotics,” in Contemporary Literary Theory
  • “Coats and Tales: Joseph Stories and Jewish Masculinity,” in A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity


Course catalog
  • Bedrooms and Battlefields: Hebrew Bible and the Origins of Sex, Gender, and Ethnicity


    Considers stories from Hebrew Scripture in English translation, beginning with the Garden of Eden through the Book of Ruth, asking how these foundational narratives establish the categories that have come to define our humanity. Analyzes how the Bible’s patterns of representation construct sexual and ethnic identities and naturalize ideas about such social institutions as “the family.”

  • Jewish Religion and Culture

    JWSS/PHIL 1285

    Explores the basic features of Judaism in the ancient, rabbinic, and modern periods. Employs a historical critical approach to the formative texts and their interpreters. Analyzes Jewish practices within specific historical contexts and discusses the ways in which practices relate to the texts and history of Judaism. Examines the rich varieties of Jewish cultural expressions.

  • Modern and Contemporary Jewish Literature

    ENGL/JWSS 3685

    Surveys Jewish literature from the late modern (1880–1948) and contemporary (1948–present) periods. Considers themes of immigration and cross-cultural influences and issues of religious, ethnic, and gender identity. Emphasizes American and European literatures to begin to define an international Jewish literary canon, including Yiddish poets and playwrights, Russian Jewish writers, and modern writers.

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