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This online talk (Zoom) by Paul Michael Kurtz presents the life and work of Friedemann Boschwitz (1909–1974). One of the last Jews to obtain a PhD during the Third Reich, he offered a groundbreaking interpretation of Julius Wellhausen, a great 19th-century orientalist who did much to revolutionise our understanding of ancient Judaism. By telling the story of Boschwitz, the presentation aims to show how go-betweens like Boschwitz bound many worlds together: the German and the Jewish, theology and history, academia and the arts, left-wing politics and Zionist nationalism. This is to say nothing of his network of émigrés and exiles across Europe and Israel, East Asia and North America. Though in the end eclipsed by bigger stars that shone from greater heights, he filled liminal spaces in an exciting, if exhausting, cultural and intellectual galaxy.
Paul Michael Kurtz is Associate Research Professor in the History of Humanities at Ghent University as well as Principal Investigator of the major research project PhiSci: Philology as Science in 19th-Century Europe, funded by the European Research Council. His first book was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2018 under the title Kaiser, Christ, and Canaan: The Religion of Israel in Protestant Germany, 1871–1918.
Institute of Jewish Studies UCL