Almog, Yael

Yael Almog earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in December 2014. Previously to her time as a Research Fellow of intellectual history at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, she worked at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin (ZfL). Building on her early training as a scholar of literature, she researches broad topics in religious studies including secularism, religion and literature, Jewish-Christian encounters, the German-Jewish tradition, and Hebrew literature. 

Almog has recently completed her first monograph which is a cultural history of the routes that literary interpretation has taken in becoming a secular, modern, and global practice. The book examines how such figures as J. G. Herder, Moses Mendelssohn, and Immanuel Kant have equated biblical readers with readers to form these two groups reciprocally as coherent collectives.

Tentatively titled Fictions of Return, her second book project investigates the imaginary reappearance of Jews in Europe as a recurrent trope in modern literature, art, and political thought. It follows how the continent has constituted a new and uncanny “Zion” in modern Jewish cultural memory. Europe has been conceived as a lost homeland for Jews, a terrain from which one is expelled. This impression was enforced through feelings of guilt, social isolation, and historical injustice that have shaped Jewish individuals’ affinity to the continent since the 1930s. The project demonstrates how works by German-Jewish émigrés and by Jewish migrants to Germany negotiate the image of Europe as a threatening site for Jews, and stress, thereby, the competing roles that this image has played in global politics. The book asks how “fictions of return” have thus posed a continual challenge to political theories that describe the mass exile from Europe as constitutive of postwar reality due to its irreversibility, such as Hannah Arendt’s accounts of totalitarianism.

Almog has taught social studies at the Barenboim-Said Academy Berlin, Jewish literature and thought at the Technical University of Berlin, cultural studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin, and German and liberal arts at the University of California, Berkeley. Classes she designed and taught include “The Frankfurt School in the USA”, “German-Jewish Literature 1750–1950,” “Judaism und Sexuality,” and “Apocalypse and Modernity.”

  • Yael Almog, Secularism and Hermeneutics (under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press for the series “Intellectual History of the Modern Age”; expected publication in spring 2019).
  • Yael Almog, Caroline Sauter and Daniel Weidner (eds.) Kommentar und Säkularisierung in der Moderne. Munich: Fink 2017.
  • Yael Almog and Erik Born (eds.) Neighbors and Neighborhoods: Living Together in the German-Speaking World, Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2012.
  • “Europe Will Be Stunned: Visualization of a Jewish Return” in Amir Eshel and Rachel Seelig (eds.) The German Hebrew Dialogue: Studies of Encounter and Exchange. Walter de Gruyter, 2017 (in print).
  • Die Judenbuche” and “das Judens-buch”: Hermeneutic Hindrance and Scriptural Reading in Droste-Hülshoff’s Crime Novella. The German Quarterly 89.3 (Summer 2016): 328-42.
  • Migration and its Discontents: Israelis in Berlin and Homeland Politics. TRANSIT: A Journal of Travel, Migration, and Multiculturalism in the German-speaking World, December 2015, Vol. 1. [German version: Das Unbehagen in der Diaspora. Israelis in Berlin und die Homeland-Politik. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, April 2015.]
  • Sublime Readings: The Emergence of the Aesthetic Bible in Herder?s Writings on Hebrew Poetry. The Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook, November 2013, Vol. 12: 337-52. [German version Sublime Lektüren: Die Ästhetische Bibel in Herders Schriften über Hebräische Poesie is forthcoming with Glaube und Lernen (2016).]
  • “Flowing Myrrh upon the Handles of the Bolt”: Bodily Borders, Social Norms, and their Transgression in the Song of Songs. Biblical Interpretation 18, May 2010: 251-63.