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Jay Geller

Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Culture

An inveterate (not Confederate) Yankee fan, “old original” Jay Geller is Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School and the Vanderbilt University Jewish Studies Program. He has also taught at the University of Vienna, Bryn Mawr College, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Swarthmore College, and Wesleyan University. In 2001 he was the Fulbright/Sigmund Freud Society Visiting Scholar in Psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Museum (Vienna) and in 2011 Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations (Woolf Institute, Cambridge, U.K.). He has also received DAAD, ACLS, CCACC (Rutgers), ATS fellowships and participated in 2 NEH Summer Seminars (on Freud and on Jewish Cultural Studies). With Nina Warnke he organized the Vanderbilt Jewish Studies Program conference “On the Lip(s) of Miriam’s Well: Jews/Women/Cultures” (2007). Professor Geller has been a member of Vanderbilt’s Holocaust Lecture Series Committee (serving several terms as chair) since 1994. His most recent monograph, Bestiarium Judaicum: Unnatural Histories of the Jews (Fordham University Press, 2017), seeks to answer the musical question: “Given the long history of the deployment of verbal and visual images of nonhuman animals, real and imagined, to debase, dehumanize, and justify persecution of Jews (and others), what’s going on when Jewish-identified Germanophone individuals (e.g., Heine, Kafka, Freud, Salten, Siodmak) write animal stories?” He is also the author of On Freud’s Jewish Body: Mitigating Circumcisions (Fordham University Press, 2007) and The Other Jewish Question: Identifying the Jew and Making Sense of Modernity (Fordham, 2011); he had earlier coedited Reading Freud’s Reading (NYU, 1994) and a special issue of American Imago (2002) on “Postmemories of the Holocaust.” In addition to numerous articles on Freud’s Jewish identification, in particular, and on the relationship between antisemitism and modern European Jewish identity formation, in general (emphasizing the corporeal mediations of gender, sexual, and species difference), he has published studies of the Holocaust and film and theories of religion (e.g., fetishism, Feuerbach, Freud). Professor Geller teaches for VDS and the Jewish Studies Program courses in nineteenth and twentieth-century European Jewish culture and identity formation, for VDS and the Religious Studies Department courses on the Holocaust (historiography, film, literature, memoir, other genocides) and religious autobiography, and for VDS courses on modern critics of religion, religion and film, and topics in the history of religions (e.g., fetishism).