Jay Geller – profile

gellerAn 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); he has also received DAAD, ACLS, CCACC (Rutgers), ATS fellowships and participated in 2 NEH Summer Seminars (on Freud and on Jewish Cultural Studies).

He has published numerous articles on Freud’s Jewish identity, in particular, and on the relationship between antisemitism and modern European Jewish identity formation, in general. More recently, his work has focussed on the Shoah and film. His On Freud’s Jewish Body: Mitigating Circumcisions appeared in Fall 2007 with Fordham University Press, followed in 2011 by the companion volume, The Other Jewish Question: Modernity and the Body of Jewish Identification, which includes chapters on Levin Varnhagen, Heine, Marx, Nordau, Schreber, Kafka (inter alia), also with Fordham. He had earlier coedited Reading Freud’s Reading and a special issue of American Imago.

His current research project, Pictures at an Exhibition: (Un)Natural Histories of the Jews, explores how Jewish identifications also drew upon the millennia-old tradition of natural history – the observation, description, categorization, and exhibition of animal life – to generate an entire menagerie of Jewish creatures: apes, mice, rats, vermin, vipers, vultures – and lizards. This project maps and analyzes these efforts (e.g., by Heine, Kafka, Salten) at promoting or subverting – and often both – the bestialization of the Jew in the Central European cultural imagination.

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