Death of Professor Alan Mintz

Katherine Aron-Beller's picture
H-Judaic is profoundly shocked and saddened to learn of the untimely passing, from a sudden heart attack, of Professor Alan L. Mintz, Chana Kekst Professor of Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and one of the preeminent scholars of Hebrew Literature of our time.  Prof. Mintz burst onto the stage of the American academy as a graduate student, when he was a leading Jewish student activist at Columbia,  founder of RESPONSE magazine, and coeditor of THE NEW JEWS (1971), a widely-discussed volume.  He trained at Columbia in English literature, and published the widely regarded GEORGE ELIOT AND THE NOVEL OF VOCATION (Harvard, 1977), but soon moved into Hebrew literature, the field in which he spent the bulk of his career. After teaching at the University of Maryland and Brandeis, where he held the Braun Chair in Hebrew Literature, Mintz in 2001 moved to the Jewish Theological Seminary where he taught until his death.  He founded and coedited PROOFTEXTS, which became a preeminent journal in the field, and also produced a series of highly regarded works on Hebrew autobiography, Hebrew in America, catastrophe in Hebrew literature, and the work of S.Y.Agnon.  His most recent book is a new edition of Agnon's A CITY IN ITS FULLNESS (Toby Press/Agnon Library), the first of what he envisaged as a series of studies on Agnon's memorial for his home city of Buczacz.     Prof. Mintz won a slew of awards for his scholarship and was recently a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies.    
Prof. Mintz's biography on the website of the Jewish Theological Seminary reads as follows.

Alan Mintz is the Chana Kekst Professor of Hebrew Literature in the Department of Jewish Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Dr. Mintz joined the JTS faculty in June 2001, after 10 years at Brandeis University as the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature. 

Dr. Mintz's current research centers on the late work of the Hebrew writer and Nobel laureate S. Y. Agnon (1887–1970). During the last years of his life, Agnon wrote hundreds of stories that focus on Buczacz, the Galician town in which he grew up and lived until he immigrated to Palestine. Dr. Mintz's work will take the form of a collection of translated stories and a critical study of the fiction. This is an unprecedented project to reenvision, through the medium of fiction, the lives of Polish Jews during the early modern period. 

Dr. Mintz's previous project focused on Hebrew literature in America and the history of the Hebraist movement during the first half of the twentieth century. His study of 12 Hebrew poets who wrote in America between the two world wars of the 20th century is Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew Poetry (Stanford University Press, 2011). 

Dr. Mintz is also the author of Popular Culture and the Shaping of Holocaust Memory in America (University of Washington Press, 2001) and Translating Israel: Contemporary Hebrew Literature and Its Reception in America (Syracuse University Press, 2001), and editor of Reading Hebrew Literature (Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, 2002). His essays include "In the Seas of Youth: On Agnon's Bilvav Yamim"; "Knocking on Heaven's Gate: Hebrew Literature and Wisse's Canon"; and "Bialik's Sefer Ha'aggadah: Triumph or Tragedy?" 

His major academic works include George Eliot and the Novel of Vocation (Harvard University Press, 1977); Hurban: Responses to Catastrophe in Hebrew Literature (Columbia University Press, 1985), which explores how the Jewish literary imagination has dealt with successive calamities from the destruction of the Temples to the Holocaust; and Banished from Their Father's Table: Loss of Faith and Hebrew Autobiography (Indiana University Press, 1988), which examines the inner world of intellectuals coming of age in Eastern Europe during a period of collapsing religious faith. Dr. Mintz is editor, with Anne Golumb Hoffman, of A Book That Was Lost: Thirty-Five Stories by S. Y. Agnon (Schocken Books, 1995). He is the editor of Hebrew in America: Perspectives and Prospects (Wayne State University Press, 1993) and The Boom in Contemporary Israeli Fiction (Brandeis University Press, 1997). 

Dr. Mintz was the founder of Response magazine, which he edited from 1967 through 1970. In 1981, Dr. Mintz cofounded Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History with JTS Professor of Jewish Literature David Roskies. After 25 years of publication, the editorship of the journal was passed on to Dr. Jeremy Dauber (Columbia University) and JTS's Barbara Mann, professor of Hebrew Literature. The editorial offices of Prooftexts remain at JTS, which aids in the publication of the journal.



We extend deepest condolences to his wife and family.
Jonathan D. Sarna
Chair, H-Judaic