Obituary: Prof. Jonathan M. Hess

Shalom Berger's picture
H-Judaic is shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely passing, from an apparent aneurysm, of Jonathan M. Hess (1965-2018),  Chair, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Malkin Distinguished Professor of Jewish History and Culture, and adjunct professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  Educated at Yale, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his Ph.D. in 1993, Hess spent his entire career at UNC, publishing widely, teaching popular courses, and helping to build UNC’s distinguished Jewish Studies program. He defined his specialty as “German cultural, intellectual and literary history from the eighteenth century on, with particular interests in both German-Jewish studies and the legacy of the Enlightenment.”  His books, several of which won awards, include the just published Deborah and Her Sisters: How One Nineteenth-Century Melodrama and a Host of Celebrated Actresses Put Judaism on the World Stage (2018); Middlebrow Literature and the Making of German-Jewish Identity (2010); Germans, Jews and the Claims of Modernity (2002); Reconstituting the Body Politic: Enlightenment, Public Culture and the Invention of Aesthetic Autonomy (1999); and the coedited Nineteenth-Century Jewish Literature: A Reader (2013). He also published over thirty articles and reviews.  
A full cv may be found here  Hess also has a bio online, which may be found here:

Hess trained numerous graduate students in German literature and was, at the time of his unexpected passing, coeditor of AJS Perspectives.  He was a beloved colleague, friend and family member, and will be greatly missed.  H-Judaic extends deepest condolences to his wife, Beth Posner, to his children, and to his extended family, colleagues, and students.

Jonathan D. Sarna
Chair, H-Judaic

The University of North Carolina has alerted us to the fact that the late Prof. Jonathan Hess left a more up-to-date faculty page. It can be accessed here: Many thanks to Valerie Bernhardt for this information.

Jonathan D. Sarna
Chair H-Judaic