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Rethinking the Sage: A Feminist Intervention


December 3, 2014
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Bldg. 360 conference room

Colloquium with Mara Benjamin (St. Olaf College).  For Religious Studies and Jewish Studies faculty, students, and Stanford-affiliated guests. Co-sponsored by Religious Studies and the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. Dinner served; RSVP to Ai Tran.

Long before the professionalization of education, religious traditions cultivated communities in which teaching and learning were understood as activities with profound ethical and existential meaning. The classical sages of Judaism were one such community, a scholastic group defined by its devotion to study, and their literature bequeathed to Jews an invaluable lexicon with which to speak about the cultural and theological significance of teaching in the context of the new master/disciple relationship. I will argue that although this lexicon is problematic for women and feminists, many elements of the sages’ rich symbolic world can and should be retrieved in order to construct a religious, ethical, and existential framework for maternal teaching.

Mara Benjamin is Associate Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College, specializing in modern Jewish thought. After receiving a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Stanford University, she held post-doctoral appointments at the the University of Washington and Yale University. Her publications include Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity (Cambridge, 2009). Her current project is entitled The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought, for which she has received the support of a Summer Stipend (2013) and a full-year Fellowship (2014-15) from the National Endowment for the Humanities.