Beyond.The.Canon.Schedule.coverThinking Beyond the Canon: New Themes and Approaches in Jewish Studies is the subject of a conference for graduate students and junior scholars, March 8-9, 2015. Panels will focus on the untold stories of newly discovered or understudied figures and actors who have helped shape Jewish history and culture, as well as those who approach Jewish studies research and teaching in innovative ways.

Modern Jewish studies emerged in 19th century Germany from the study of a distinct Jewish canon—the history and meaning of biblical and rabbinic literature—and Semitics, the study of the languages and literatures of the Ancient Near East. In recent decades the research topics of Jewish studies scholars have broadened to the point that young scholars are asking if there is still a canon, a boundary line between what is and is not Jewish studies.

Graduate students from across the United States and around the world are invited to submit proposals for the conference. “We are incredibly excited about bringing together young scholars like ourselves who are pushing the boundaries of Jewish Studies,” says Taly Ravid, a doctoral candidate in English who is organizing the conference along with Jason Lustig and Anat Mooreville, doctoral candidates in History, with the assistance of Prof. David N. Myers, chair, Department of History. “When scholars come together at conferences, they often lack the time for serious discussion or debate, or alternately are razor-focused on a sub-specialty where everyone already knows each other. We hope that this conference will break the mold and not only allow participants to present their work but also receive significant feedback and develop a professional network of other scholars at the outset of their careers.”

In addition, several senior scholars will take part, responding to presentations and participating in a roundtable on Jewish studies in the twenty-first century. “We feel it is critical to take stock of the current developments in our field,” Lustig noted. “As disciplinary boundaries waver and dissolve, now is an ideal moment to imagine the future of Jewish studies.” He added that the conference will further develop UCLA as an important center for research and teaching in Jewish studies. The conference is sponsored by CJS with the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Joy and Jerry Monkarsh Community Lecture Series in Jewish Studies and is cosponsored by the UCLA Department of English. The conference is intended for graduate students.