B.Sc., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 198
M.A., Tel Aviv University, 1987
Ph.D., Princeton University, 1993
Email | 812-855-1534
I am a cultural historian of Western Europe in the transition from the pre-modern to the modern, focusing especially on Britain. Much of my work tries to understand what the terms in the previous sentence actually mean. What are the meaning and characteristics of modernity? How distant are we from our "pre-modern" or "early-modern" ancestors? My previous work took apart and then put together again some key narratives that the modern west tells about itself — first, the rise of class society and especially the middle class; and second, the emergence of the modern individual or modern self. In both cases I asked where do these narratives come from and what in fact were the historical developments that stood behind them (which were not at all those they claimed to represent). My main topics of interest therefore have been the meanings of identity and self — including categories of identity like gender, race and class; and their intersection with social, cultural and political trends. In addition I have a separate interest in the history of Palestine and especially Jerusalem since the eighteenth century, and of photography in the Middle East. I am currently completing two books. One is on a mysterious and virtually unknown painter from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries whose work was (I argue) an ingenious commentary on the media revolution of this period and on the birth of modern politics. The other, which I am writing with Professor Jonathan Sheehan of the University of California-Berkeley, is about what differentiated the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from the early modern period, a question that we want to answer through a close look at the changing role of God in the world as the source of order and harmony.