On February 4th, Alexandra Zirkle of Boston University gave a lecture titled, "Re-imagining Sex: World-Building Exegesis and Heinrich Graetz's Song of Songs."
The Lecture questioned how are norms around gender and sexuality produced or subverted through the medium of biblical interpretation. This lecture illustrates how the famous historian and exegete, Heinrich Graetz, wielded biblical exegesis to subvert late nineteenth-century German tropes around Jewish sexuality and to propose his own ideals of modern Jewish femininity and masculinity. In his commentary on the Song of Songs, Graetz illustrates the tremendous potential--and possible limits--of biblical interpretation as a mode of world-building.
Dr. Alexandra Zirkle researches and teaches in the fields of modern Jewish thought, the politics of biblical hermeneutics, and Jewish-Christian relations. Her manuscript, "Biblical Interpretation and the Formations of Modern German Jewry," traces how nineteenth-century German Jewish exegetes drew upon biblical hermeneutics to craft emancipatory models of Jewish subjectivity during an era of widespread political oppression. Dr. Zirkle is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies at Boston University and has held research and teaching positions at the University of Notre Dame, the Leibniz Institute of European History, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, and the University of Chicago. She received her PhD with distinction from the University of Chicago Divinity School.