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Dr. Jonathan Judaken Becomes Rhodes′ First Spence L. Wilson Chair of Humanities

Publication Date: 8/25/2011

Rhodes College has announced the appointment of Dr. Jonathan Judaken as its first Spence L. Wilson Chair of Humanities. In this position, Judaken will contribute to the college in multiple ways by developing courses and initiatives about emerging knowledge in the humanities; enriching scholarly dialogue among faculty; and engaging and supporting students in meaningful research and other scholarly activity.

Dr. Michael Drompp, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, noted that Judaken is “a scholar whose broad perspective and deep engagement in multiple areas of inquiry will certainly enrich the study of the humanities at Rhodes. I am excited by the many possibilities that his appointment will bring to the college, particularly as his work focuses on topics of such great interest to our community and beyond.”

The endowed chair has been established by a gift from Spence L. Wilson, who served as a Rhodes Trustee for 38 years and chairman for nine. “I am delighted that Dr. Judaken has been selected to occupy the Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities at Rhodes,” says Spence Wilson. “He is an accomplished scholar with a distinguished academic background; he brings his rich experiences and knowledge to share with his colleagues on the faculty and with all Rhodes students.”

Judaken comes to Rhodes from The University of Memphis where he was the Dunavant Professor of History and Director of the Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities. His field of interest includes European cultural and intellectual history, Jews and Judaism, ‘race’, ‘tolerance’ and religion. Much of Judaken’s research focuses on patterns that underpin prejudice and the assumptions of those who have intervened on behalf of African Americans and Jews in the 20th century. He has produced a wide range of publications, including a book titled Jean-Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question: Anti-antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual that examines the contexts in which philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote about Jews and Judaism over the 20th century.

One of Judaken’s edited volumes, Naming Race, Naming Racisms, examines critical stages in the evolution of the concept of ‘race’ from the 18th century to the present and concludes with an interview with Princeton Professor Cornel West on black intellectuals in America today. Most recently, Judaken has co-edited (with Robert Bernasconi) Situating Existentialism due out from Columbia University Press this year.

In addition, Judaken is U.S. consulting editor for the Patterns of Prejudice journal and has been a scholar in residence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He has held memberships in the Association for Jewish Studies, American Historical Association, American Academy of Religion, French Historical Studies and International Society for the Study of European Ideas, among others.

Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Judaken holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of California, San Diego and M.A. and Ph.D in history from University of California, Irvine.

Tags: Faculty, Honors


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Paul Jewell August 30, 2011

U of M′s loss is Rhodes′ huge gain. Jonathan is a class act and a gifted scholar.