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Judaic Studies Faculty and Staff

Core Faculty


Norman Stillman, Founding Director

Norman Stillman

Norman Stillman was the founding Director of the Schusterman Center for Judaic Israel Studies and the holder of the Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History. He is an internationally recognized authority on the history and culture of the Islamic world and Sephardi and Oriental Jewry. Prof. Stillman received his Ph.D. in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the author of seven books and has published numerous articles in several languages. He is currently writing a book on the Jews of North Africa for University of California Press and is the executive editor of Brill’s 5-volume Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World and was for ten years the editor of the<i>&nbsp;AJS Review</i>, the journal of the Association for Jewish Studies. He retired from the University of Oklahoma in 2015. Website | Email

Alan T. Levenson, Program Director

Alan Levenson

Alan T. Levenson holds the Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History and has written extensively on the Jewish experience for both scholarly and popular audiences. His book, Between Philosemitism and Antisemitism: Defenses of Jews and Judaism in Germany, 1871-1932was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award Prize (paperback edition 2013), and his textbook Modern Jewish Thinkers (2nd edition) is widely used in classes on Jewish thought. He has won a number of prestigious fellowships, including an ACLS, and has lectured in the United States, Israel and Germany. Since arriving at OU in 2009 he has completed three major projects: The Making of the Modern Jewish Bible(2011), a history of Bible translations/commentaries in the modern era; as General Editor of The Wiley-Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism(2012), and Joseph: Portraits Through the Ages (2016), a re-telling of commentaries on Genesis 37-50 from the ancient world until today. He received his BA/MA from Brown University magna cum laude, and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Levenson’s first professional commitment remains teaching undergraduate and graduate students to write, speak and read more effectively. He has guided many students to award-winning essays generated in his classes: “Judaism: A Religious History,” “Genesis Through Jewish Eyes” and “The Bible Since The Enlightenment." Website | Email | Vita (pdf)

Shmuel Shepkaru, Professor

Shmuel Shepkaru

Shmuel Shepkaru is the Schusterman Professor of Jewish Intellectual and Religious History, specializing in medieval European Jewry and Christianity. He received both his Ph.D. in Medieval Jewish History and his Master of Arts in Jewish History from New York University. His book, Jewish Martyrs in the Pagan and Christian Worlds was published by Cambridge University Press in 2005. He serves on the editorial board of the “AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies.” His classes at OU include Evolution of Martyrdom, Jewish Mysticism, Israeli Culture through Film, and the History of Heaven and Hell.
Website |  Email

Ori Kritz, Professor

Ori Kritz

Ori Kritz is an Associate Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Literature in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, where she heads up the Hebrew Language Program. She received her Ph.D. in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University, New York, where she also earned a Master of Philosophy. She also earned Masters in modern and medieval Hebrew literature from Tel-Aviv University. Prof. Kritz is the author and co-author (with her father, Reuven Kritz) of several books, including Poetics of Anarchy, as well as numerous articles in various languages, mostly on Hebrew literature. Her classes at OU include Hebrew language, Hebrew Literature, Jewish Literature, and Jewish Humor. Prof. Kritz received the 2015 Arts and Sciences John H. and Jane M. Patten Award in Recognition of Outstanding Classroom Teaching, and the 2013 Cecil W. Woods Memorial Award for outstanding teaching in the OU Department of Modern Languages, Literature, and Linguistics. Dr. Kritz’s current project is shame and its role in the life and writings of various women writers. Website | Email

Carsten Schapkow, Associate Professor and L.R. Brammer Jr. Presidential Professor in History

Carsten Schapkow, Associate Professor

Carsten Schapkow is an Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History who specializes in German-Jewish History and Modern Jewish Historiography. He received his Ph.D. from the Free University Berlin in 2000.  He is the author of “The Freedom to Philosophize” — Jewish identity as Mirrored in the Reception of Baruch de Spinoza in German Literature (2001). His second book, published in 2011 in German, deals with the perception of Iberian-Sephardic Culture among German-speaking Jews in the 19th century. It has been published in English under the title Role Model and Countermodel: The Golden Age of Iberian Jewry and German Jewish Culture during the Era of Emancipation (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015). Schapkow is also the co-editor of Konversion in Räumen jüdischer Geschichte, ed. Martin Przybilski, Carsten Schapkow (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag 2014). [Conversion in Spaces of Jewish History] as well as co-editor of Darkhei Noam. The Jews of Arab Lands: A Festschrift for Norman (Noam) A. Stillman, eds. Carsten Schapkow, Shmuel Shepkaru, and Alan T. Levenson. (Leiden/Boston: Brill’s series in Jewish Studies 2015, volume 55). His classes at OU include the "Rebirth of Israel," "Transformation of Jewish Communities from Tradition to Modernity," "Jews and Other Germans," "Jews and Nationality in Eastern Europe," "From Bismarck to Hitler," and "The Holocaust."
Website | Email

Ronnie Grinberg, Assistant Professor

Ronnie Grinberg

Ronnie Grinberg is a historian of the United States with research and teaching interests in America since 1930, American Jewish history, women’s and gender history, intellectual history and social movements. She received her doctoral degree from Northwestern University and bachelor of arts degree from Barnard College, Columbia University. She comes to the University of Oklahoma after having been a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is currently completing a book manuscript about the New York Intellectuals, a prominent group of mostly Jewish writers and critics at mid-century, examining them through the lens of gender and ethnicity.  A selection from that larger project appears in the summer 2014 issue of the journal  American Jewish History.
Website |  Email

Rhona Seidelman, Assistant Professor of Israeli History

Rhona Seidelman

Dr. Rhona Seidelman joined the Schusterman Center of Judaic and Israel Studies as Assistant Professor of Israeli History in August of 2015.  Dr. Seidelman is a scholar of Israel, immigration, public health and medicine. She holds a PhD in History from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, as well as an MA in Literature and a BA in History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She recently completed a book manuscript—tentatively titled Under Quarantine: The Story of Israel’s Ellis Island (1949-1952)—which looks at the controversial period of Israel’s founding through a medical history of the young state’s central immigration processing camp, Shaar Ha’aliya. In addition to her book manuscript, Dr. Seidelman has authored and co-authored several articles in the fields of health and immigration in Israel.  Her articles have been published in:  The American Journal of Public HealthThe Journal of Israeli HistoryAJS PerspectivesKorot: the Israel Journal of the History of Medicine and ScienceThe Mount Sinai Journal of MedicineCanadian Bulletin for the History of MedicineHagar, and Ha’aretz. She is currently writing a book on patients’ experiences with tuberculosis in Palestine/Israel from 1882 until today. Email

D Gershon Lewental, Schusterman Visiting Professor

D Gershon Lewental

D Gershon Lewental is a cultural historian of the Middle East, focusing on how societies use religion, memory, and conflict to define and maintain their identities. He has been the Schusterman Visiting Assistant Professor in the Departments of History and International & Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma since 2012. He earned his bachelor of arts degree (magna cum laude) from Cornell University and his doctorate in Middle Eastern history from Brandeis University. His dissertation, on the changing perceptions of the Arab-Islamic conquest of Iran through time, received the Foundation of Iranian Studies Best Dissertation Award. His fields of specialisation include early Islamic history and historiography, Iranian history, the Bahaʾi faith, and Israeli society. He is preparing two book manuscripts, one on the interplay of religion, nationalism, and memory in the modern Middle East and the other on the rôle of narrative in early Islamic historiography. His article, ‘“Saddam’s Qadisiyyah”: Religion and history in the service of state ideology in Baʿthi Iraq’, appeared in Middle Eastern Studies in 2014 and other articles are forthcoming elsewhere. He is also the English translator of numerous Hebrew academic works, including Yaron Harel’s Zionism in Damascus(IB Tauris, 2015). His courses at the University of Oklahoma include "Religion and Society in the Middle East," "The Arab-Israeli Conflict," "Religion and Minorities in Israel," "Jews and Christians under Islam," "Political Islam," and more.
Website | Email

Yael Lavender-Smith, Hebrew Instructor

Yael Lavender-Smith

Yael Lavender-Smith received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Comparative Literature and Early Modern Studies from The Graduate Center, CUNY and her M.A. and B.A. in Hebrew and Comparative Literature form the University of Haifa, Israel. She has taught Hebrew language and literature at Brooklyn College and Hunter College in New York. She is currently working on a short-form monograph about Uriel da Costa, a Jewish converso who lived in Amsterdam in the 17th century, examining his dual commitments to Jewish and Christian societies.  Email

Katy Hall, Administrative Assistant

Katy Hall

Katy Hall graduated from OU in 2012 with a B.A. in History. After a short time at AT&T, Katy decided she wanted to further her education and start a new career. She started employment at OU in 2013 and in 2014 she finished a masters of Human Relations. Katy is married to a high school band director and they have a ten-month-old daughter. She is thrilled to be a part of the Judaic Studies team and she looks forward to helping the Schusterman Center continue its good work at OU.  Email

Associated Faculty

Benjamin Alpers, Honors College

Benjamin Alpers

Dr. Benjamin Alpers received his Ph.D. in history from Princeton University in 1994. He joined the faculty of the OU Honors College in 1998. His primary teaching and research interests concern twentieth-century American intellectual and cultural history, with special interests in political culture and film history, including Yiddish film. He is currently working on a book on Leo Strauss, Straussianism, and American academic and political life. He is also affiliated with OU’s History Department and Film and Video Studies Program. He has received grants from the American Philosophical Society and the Gerald Ford Presidential Library in support of his research. He is also completing a shorter project on anti-Nazism in the films of Frank Borzage. Email

David Chappell Rothbaum, Professor of History

David Chappell

Dr. David Chappell, the Rothbaum Professor of Modern American History, is a scholar of the American civil rights struggle. His books include A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow and Inside Agitators: White Southerners in the Civil Rights Movement. With the help of a year-long grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he is now finishing Waking from the Dream: The Battle over Martin Luther King’s Legacy and is at work on another book tentatively titled The Mind of the Segregationist, 1945-1965. Inside Agitators received a Gustavus Myers Award for Outstanding Book on Human Rights in North America and the Atlantic Monthly described A Stone of Hope as “one of the three or four most important books on civil rights.” In addition to the NEH, his work has received support from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. He offers courses on the history of the civil rights struggle, liberalism and race, religion, immigration and ethnicity, and cultural and intellectual history. Professor Chappell received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.  Website  | Email

Rangar Cline, Religious Studies

Rangar Cline

Dr. Rangar Cline is a historian of the later Roman Empire with research and teaching interests in Roman religions, epigraphy, and archaeology.  His research focuses the relationship between Greek and Roman religions, early Christianity, and Judaism in the Roman world.  His book Ancient Angels, about angel veneration in the Roman Empire, was recently published with Brill Press (Leiden, March 2011) in the series “Religions in the Graeco-Roman World.”   Professor Cline's current book project examines the economics of pilgrimage.   Website |  Email

Sara Coodin, Classics and Letters

Sara Coodin

Sara Coodin, Assistant Professor of Classics and Letters, received her Ph.D. in English Literature from McGill University (Montreal, Quebec) in 2011, where she focused on Shakespearean drama and its relationship to Classical virtue ethics. Dr. Coodin continues to publish on Classical philosophy’s importance to thought and action in Shakespeare’s plays, as well as Classicism and Christian Hebraism in Renaissance England. Her recent publications include the book chapters “‘This was a way to thrive’: Christian and Jewish Eudaimonism in The Merchant of Venice” in The Renaissance of Emotion, ed. Erin Sullivan and Richard Meek (Manchester UP, 2014); and (with Michael Bristol) “Well-Won Thrift” in Shakespeare’s World of Words, ed. Paul Yachnin (Arden, 2014); as well as “Fiction, Emotion, and Moral Agency” in Shakespeare Studies vol. 40 (2012). Currently, Dr. Coodin is completing a book-length study of Shylock’s moral agency that focuses on his use of Biblical citation in The Merchant of VeniceE-mail

Luis Cortest, Department of MLLL, Spanish

Luis Cortest

Dr. Luis Cortest is Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics. He was awarded the Ph.D. in Medieval Hispanic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (1983). His principal research interests include: Spanish religious writers of the sixteenth century, medieval and Early Modern Jewish philosophers, Natural Law, and the history of Spanish thought. He recently submitted a book manuscript for publication entitled, “Unwitting Heirs of Philo: Moses Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas.” He is the author of a critical edition of Moses Almosnino’s Regimiento de la vida (Madrid, 2010), The Disfigured Face: Traditional Natural Law and It’s Encounter with Modernity (New York, 2008), Homenaje a José Durand (Madrid, 1994), a critical edition of Fray Alonso de Madrid’s Arte para servir a Dios (Madrid, 1989) and a collection of studies on the colonial Mexican writer, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Asunción, 1989). His current research focuses on the sixteenth-century Jewish philosopher, Leone Ebreo.  Website  | Email

Jill Hicks-Keeton, Religious Studies

Jill Hicks-Keeton

Jill Hicks-Keeton specializes in New Testament and Christian origins, Second Temple Judaism, and the relationship of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity. She earned her PhD from Duke University's Graduate Program in Religion and has previously taught at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Dr. Hicks-Keeton's book project, entitled Rewritten Gentiles: Conversion to Israel's 'Living God' and Jewish Identity in Antiquity, examines the sociological novelty of conversion in ancient Judaism and earliest Christianity with specific attention to literary strategies of boundary construction and enforcement. She is interested broadly in the so-called 'parting of the ways' between Judaism and Christianity in antiquity, processes of identity formation through religious narrative, and the new uses of inherited biblical traditions in the New Testament and other early Christian and Second Temple Jewish literature.  Email

Misha Klein, Department of Anthropology

Misha Klein

Dr. Misha Klein is an Associate Professor of Anthropology.  She is a cultural anthropologist (Ph.D. UC Berkeley, 2002).  In addition to courses on identity, race and ethnicity, globalization, gender and sexuality, Latin America, and history and theory of anthropology, among other topics, she also teaches a cross-cultural course on the anthropology of Jews and Jewishness; the latter is the basis for her essay “Teaching about Jewishness in the Heartland” in the special issue of Shofar dedicated to “New Approaches to Teaching Jewish Studies” (2014, edited by Alan Levenson).  Her primary area of research explores intersecting aspects of identity for Jews in Brazil; her book, Kosher Feijoada and Other Paradoxes of Jewish Life in São Paulo (2012), is based on ethnographic research in the Jewish community, and focuses on the relationship between ethnic and national identity for this multicultural and transnational population of Jews in the world’s largest Catholic country.  Her essay “Anthropology” in The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures (2014), addresses anthropological contributions to Jewish Studies, both historical and what she calls the “new Jewish ethnography.”   Website | Email |

Nina Livesey, Religious Studies

Nina Livesey

Dr. Nina Livesey completed her Ph.D. at Southern Methodist University.  Her research and interests are with texts of the early Christian period, those of the New Testament but also those that date to and around the first and second century CE.  She is particularly interested in early Jewish-Christian relations, Christian emergence, the History of Interpretation, and rhetorical criticism. While Paul has been the focus of much of her writings, her 2010 monograph Circumcision as a Malleable Symbol deals with a range of writers from the 2nd century BCE to the first century CE and explores treatments of circumcision in the books of the Maccabees, Jubilees, Josephus, Philo, and Paul. Her current work involves a book-length project on Paul in which she takes up the much-discussed topic of his relationship with Judaism.   Website |  Email

Henry McDonald, Department of English

Dr. Henry McDonald

Dr. Henry McDonald is an Associate Professor of American and Cultural Literacy in the OU Department of English. He received his Ph.D. in Theory, Media, and Cultural Studies from the Graduate Center, City University of New York in 1991. He is completing a book on Theory's Imaginary: Philosophical Tradition and Literary Studies Since the Sixties. Professor McDonald offers courses in 19th and 20th Century American literature, women's writing, modernism, and the American Renaissance. His interest in contemporary philosophy has led him to conduct research on Emmanuel Lévinas, on whom he has developed a Judaic Studies course.  Website |  Email

Stephen H. Norwood, Department of History

Stephen H. Norwood

Stephen H. Norwood (PhD, Columbia University) is Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of five books on American and Jewish history, most recently Antisemitism and the American Far Left (Cambridge University Press, 2013). His book The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower (Cambridge University Press, 2009) was a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Studies. Norwood co-edited (with Eunice G. Pollack) the prize-winning two-volume Encyclopedia of American Jewish History (2008). Another of his books won the Herbert G. Gutman Award in American Social History. His articles have appeared in anthologies and numerous journals, including American Jewish HistoryModern JudaismJournal for the Study of AntisemitismACTA (Analysis of Current Trends in Antisemitism), Journal of Social HistoryLabor HistoryJournal of Southern HistoryNew England Quarterly, and Journal of Sport History. He has given invited lectures at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC; the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles; the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City; Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Menachem Begin Center, Jerusalem; Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism, University of London; Wiener Wiesenthal Institut für Holocaust-Studien, Vienna, Austria; Yale Interdisciplinary Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Yale University; Center for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, Indiana University; Tamiment Library, New York University.  Website  |  Email

Andrew Porwancher, Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage

Andrew Porwancher

Andrew Porwancher, Assistant Professor (Ph.D. Cambridge, A.M. Brown, B.A. Northwestern, summa cum laude) is a core faculty member of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage. He is currently at work on a book entitled, The Jewish Founding Father: Alexander Hamilton's Hidden Life (under contract with Harvard University Press). Dr. Porwancher's previous publications include The Devil Himself: A Tale of Honor, Insanity, and the Birth of Modern America (Oxford University Press, 2016) and John Henry Wigmore and the Rules of Evidence: The Hidden Origins of Modern Law (University of Missouri Press, 2016). In 2013-2014, he served as the Alistair Horne Fellow at the University of Oxford.  Email

Walker Robins, Adjunct

Walker Robins

Walker Robins, an adjunct instructor, received his PhD in History from OU in 2015. His dissertation, "Between Dixie and Zion: Southern Baptists' Palestine Questions," examined how Southern Baptists engaged the land, the people, and the politics of Palestine prior to the creation of Israel in 1948. While a graduate student, he contributed several articles to Professor Stillman’s Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, including entries on “Christian Missionaries and Missionary Schools,” “Jews in Arabic Cinema,” and "Wine and Alcoholic Beverages." In 2014, he published an essay, "A Meshummad in Dixie: Jacob Gartenhaus as a Convert Missionary in the Southern Baptist Convention, 1921-1949," in Carsten Schapkow's co-edited volume, Konversion in Räumen jüdischer Geschichte. He has taught two undergraduate courses at OU--"How the Holy Land Became Holy" and "Jews in Hollywood"--and teaches Senior Seminars with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute throughout the year.  email

Karin L. Schutjer, Department of MLLL, German

Karin L. Schutjer

Dr. Karin Schutjer, whose specialty is 18th Century German Literature, joined the OU Department of Modern Languages in the fall of 1998. She received her Ph.D. in German from Princeton University. Her education also included university study in Berlin and Tübingen. Schutjer's research interests concern broadly the intersections of philosophy, literature and social thought in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Germany. Her current book project, Goethe’s Wanderers and the Wandering Jews: Identity, Idolatry, Modernity, addresses J.W. Goethe's complex and often contradictory relationship to Judaism. Schutjer is currently serving a three-year term as a "Director-at-Large" of the Goethe Society of North America. She teaches a wide range of courses including the advanced seminar "Goethe's Faust and the Problem of Evil," which fulfills the capstone requirement for the Judaic Studies major.  Website  | Email

Daniel Simon, Department of English

Daniel  Simon

Daniel Simon is assistant director and editor in chief of World Literature Today magazine. Daniel joined the staff of WLT in 2002, after previous editorial positions at the University of Oklahoma Press and University of Nebraska Press. He received his doctorate in comparative literature—with an emphasis in translation studies—from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 2000. At OU, in addition to his full-time work for WLT, he serves as an adjunct professor in the English Department and on the affiliate faculty of the Department of International & Area Studies as well as the associated faculty of the Schusterman Center.  Email

Daniel C. Snell, Department of History

Daniel C. Snell

Dr. Dan Snell is the L. J. Semrod Presidential Professor in the OU Department of History. Snell received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1975. He is an Assyriologist, Ancient Economic Historian, and Biblical Scholar who writes both technical articles and accessible works like his History Book Club selection, Life in the Ancient Near East, 3100-332 B.C., and his recently edited volume, A Companion to the Ancient Near East. He is currently at work on a tentatively titled study, Religions of the Ancient Near East that will cover the years from roughly 6000 BCE to 332 BCE. Professor Snell regularly teaches courses on the history of ancient Israel, a core course for the Judaic Studies major, and history of the ancient Near East.  Website |  Email

Dinah Assouline Stillman, Department of MLLL, French

Dinah Assouline Stillman

Dinah Assouline Stillman, holds degrees in French, Hebrew and English languages and linguistics from the Sorbonne and the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales and teaches French culture, literature and cinema in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma.  In addition to French, she has also taught Hebrew at OU. She has contributed entries on Francophone Sephardi cultural figures for the Encycopedia of the Jews in the Islamic World (Leiden: 2010), as well as articles for Bustan, the Middle East Book Review, the MESA Bulletin, AJS Perspectives, Image and Narrative, and World Literature Today (on which she also serves as Contributing Editor).  She is currently studying Maghrebi Arab (beur) and Sephardi cinemas and literatures in France, as well as current trends in French cinema revisiting its national past.   Website |  Email

Janet Ward, Department of History

Janet Ward

Dr. Janet Ward joined OU in 2011 as professor of History and as an IAS affiliate.  Ward’s research explores history’s “spatial turn,” especially in urban, architectural, and border studies.  Author and coeditor of six books and more than two dozen articles and essays, she is currently at work on two major research projects: the first on urban and spatial/racial planning during the Second World War, and the second on Holocaust memory sites.  For the first project, “Blitz Cities: The Urban Aftermath of War and Terror,” Professor Ward is researching civilian defense and urban reconstruction efforts caused by the air war of World War II, as well as Nazi urban planning in the invaded territories of central and Eastern Europe.  Her second book project, “Sites of Holocaust Memory,” is a transnational study on the spatial and architectural memorialization of the Holocaust (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic’s “Perspectives on the Holocaust” series). Website |  Email

Mara Willard, Religious Studies

Mara Willard

Mara Willard specializes in Christian Studies, and Theories and Methods in Religious Studies.  A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences with her PhD, she has taught at Harvard and Tufts Universities. Her areas of specialty include religious and political thought in Hannah Arendt, Religion and the Modern West, Religion and Society, and Theories and Methods in Religious Studies. Courses she taught at Tufts and Harvard include Religion, Race, and Nation; Introduction to Christianity; Religion and American Public Life; Christian Perspectives on War and Peace; and Christian Ethics and Modern Society. For OU's Religious Studies Program, she has taught Religion, Culture, and the Meaning of Life.   Email

Graduate Students

Jacob Lackner

Jacob Lackner

Jacob Lackner is a doctoral candidate working under the direction of Professor Shmuel Shepkaru. His primary area of research is medieval Jewish-Christian relations, more specifically the way medieval Christians thought about medieval Jews. His research includes investigation into not only how Jews are represented in historical documents such as papal letters and sermons, but also the way that Jews appeared in medieval art and literature. He has presented papers on this subject at the Texas Medieval Association, the Mid-America Medieval Association, and the International Congress on Medieval Studies. He has been able to spend the last academic year at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem improving his Hebrew and taking advantage of their diverse course offerings in the field of Jewish Studies .  email

Jesse Weinberg

Jesse Weinberg

Jesse Weinberg is a doctoral student under the direction of Prof. Norman Stillman, exploring Middle Eastern antisemitism in the 19th and 20th century. He holds a BA degree from Hampshire College and a Master’s degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He comes to OU after having worked as an analyst on the Middle East for the American Jewish Committee, where he examined Arabic-language media and militancy. His projects included reports on antisemitism among Iran’s leadership and the Palestinian territories. He has been a researcher for the Anti-Defamation League, where he focused on extremists in the Muslim- and Arab-American communities, an archivist for the Israel Defense Forces and an intern at the Middle East Media Research Institute. He is the founder of, a politics and culture website, where he writes on Middle East affairs. Jesse has been awarded one of two inaugural Schusterman Graduate Student Fellowships for 2014-15.

Leah Pace

Leah Pace

Leah Pace is a master’s student in history and Judaic Studies. She completed her undergraduate degree at OU in 2014, where she wrote a capstone paper in Alan Levenson’s course The Bible Since Enlightenment, entitled “Lincoln’s Providence.” The paper examined the biblical language used in Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address and was selected to appear in OU Religious Studies Student Journal. She also presented the paper at the Phi Alpha Theta conference in the spring of 2014. Leah’s research will focus on the role and participation of American Jews in the modern civil rights movement. 

Tryce Hyman

Tryce Hyman

Tryce Hyman is a master’s student in history and Judaic Studies, and is also pursuing an additional master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies with the College of International Studies. He completed his undergraduate degree in Judaic Studies at OU in 2014. Tryce's papers have been presented at the Phi Alpha Theta Conference in 2014 and 2016. During the summer of 2015 Tryce served as a copy editor for the English edition of Professor Carsten Schapkow’s monograph Role Model and Countermodel: The Golden Age of Iberian Jewry and German Jewish Culture during the Era of Emancipation. Tryce’s graduate research focuses on the history of Zionism, anti-Zionism, and the development of Israeli society.

Hailey Franks

Hailey Franks

Hailey Franks is a master's student in history and Judaic studies. She received her B.A. at the University of Oklahoma in History/Letters in 2015. Her paper for Alan Levenson's "Politicizing Prejudice" course, titled "Self-Criticism or Self-Hatred? From Zunz to Weininger, a Comparison of the Internalization of Antisemitic Ideals," explored how two different men, Leopold Zunz and Otto Weininger, internalized the antisemitic sentiments of the 19th century. Hailey's graduate studies will focus on Medieval and early modern antisemitism, beginning with two semesters of study in Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.