Samuel J. Kessler

Postdoctoral Fellow in Judaic Studies


211 Major Williams Hall
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061




Department Membership

Religion and Culture


  • Jewish Studies
  • Central European Studies
  • Religion & Modernity
  • Postmodern Theory
  • 20th Century Anglo-American Literature

Professional Activities

  • Coordinator, Jewish Studies Minor
  • Co-Chair, Judaism, SECSOR


  • Ph.D. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • M.A, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • B.A. New York University

Awards and Honors

Fellow, Society of Scholars, Council for European Studies, Duke University (2015-16)

Peer Recognition Teaching Award, UNC Department of Religious Studies (2014)

Selected Publications


Malamud in Italy: The Moral Choice of Being Jewish in ‘The Lady of the Lake,’” Studies in American Jewish Literature. (Accepted for issue 36.1, Spring 2017.)

“Translating Judaism for Modernity: Adolf Jellinek in Leopoldstadt, 1857-1865,” Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook 14 (2015): 393-419.

“Foucault and the Holocaust: Epistemic Shift, Liminality, and the Death Camps,” Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust 28, no. 3 (Nov. 2014): 139-154.

 “Religion and the Public University,” Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 31, no. 1 (Spring 2013), 19-27.

“Systematization, Theology, and the Baroque Wunderkammern: Seeing Nature After Linnaeus,” Heythrop Journal (in press [published online June 4, 2013].)

“The Sacredness of ‘Secular’ Literature: A Case Study in Walter Benjamin,” Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory 12, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 100-114. <>

Book Review

(Book Review) Christoph Mick, Lemberg, Lwów, L’viv, 1914-1947: Violence and Ethnicity in a Contested City, German Studies Review (Forthcoming)

(Book Review) Harald Höbusch, Mountain of Destiny: Nanga Parbat and Its Path Into the German Imagination, Austrian Studies Review (Forthcoming)

Additional Information

My work focuses on the transformation of Jewish religious practice in response to urbanization and civil emancipation in nineteenth-century Central Europe. My book manuscript, "'A New Shoot From the House of David:' Adolf Jellinek and the Creation of the Modern Synagogue,” traces the development and importance of the rabbi’s sermon and the monumental synagogue within German-speaking Jewry from 1800 to 1860. I also works on topics in postmodern theory (Foucault) and twentieth-century literature (Roth, Malamud, Durrell). for more information please visit