Sharon Portnoff



Sharon Portnoff, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Joined Connecticut College: 2008

Education
B.A., St. John's College (Annapolis); M.Ed., Harvard University; M.A., Ph.D., Jewish Theological Seminary

Specializations
Modern Jewish thought
Holocaust theology
Dante
Primo Levi
Israel

Contact Sharon Portnoff: sportnof@conncoll.edu

Among the courses Sharon Portnoff teaches at Connecticut College are The Holocaust and Post-Holocaust Responses, Religious Ethics and Jewish Traditions.

Portnoff also coordinates the Miriam Melrod Lecture in Judaic Studies.

Portnoff's areas of research include Leo Strauss’ influence on Emil L. Fackenheim and Primo Levi’s use of Dante’s Commedia in If This is a Man.

The working title of Portnoff's newest project is War and Memory: Virgil, Dante, Levi and the Western Canonical Tradition.

Book:

Reason and Revelation Before Historicism: Strauss and Fackenheim. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.

Books edited:

  • The Companionship of Books: Essays in Honor of Laurence Berns. Edited by Alan Udoff, Sharon Portnoff and Martin D. Yaffe. New York: Lexington Books, 2012 (including her contribution "For Love of One's Teachers: Dante, Virgil and Paganism.")
  • Emil L. Fackenheim: Philosopher, Theologian, Jew. Edited by Sharon Portnoff, James A. Diamond and Martin D. Yaffe. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007 (including her contributions "Introduction" and "Fackenheim's Hegelian Return to Contingency.")

Selected publications:

  • "Making Peace with Philosophy: Emil L. Fackenheim’s Hegelianism." In Personal Theology: Essays in Honor of Neil Gillman. In New Perspectives in Post-Rabbinic Judaism. Edited by William Plevan. New York: Academic Studies Press, 2013.
  • "For Love of One's Teachers: Dante, Virgil and Paganism." In The Companionship of Books: Essays in Honor of Laurence Berns. Edited by Alan Udoff, Sharon Portnoff and Martin D. Yaffe. New York: Lexington Books, 2012.
  • "Emil Fackenheim und seine Theologie jüdischer Existenz nach dem Holocaust." Translated by Andreas Mink. Aufbau. April 2011.
  • "Levi's Auschwitz and Dante's Hell." Society. Volume 46, Number 1. New York: Springer, January/February 2009. Whole Number 297. http://www.springerlink.com/content/n3047055g2rx0156/.

Recent conferences she has attended include the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Academy of Religion  and the Association for Israel Studies.

Recent seminars in which she has participated include:

  • Seminar for Faculty, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Transforming Troubling Tellings: The History of the Deicide Charge and the Holocaust." June-July 2011.
  • Jack and Anita Hess Seminar for Faculty, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Teaching about the Holocaust through Eyewitness Testimony: Using Interviews and Memoirs in the Classroom." 2011.
  • The Tikvah Project on Jewish Thought, Princeton University, Tikvah Working Group. "Holiness." 2009-2010.
  • Jack and Anita Hess Seminar for Faculty, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Teaching about the Holocaust through Eyewitness Testimony: Using Interviews and Memoirs in the Classroom." 2011.

Recent presentations she has made include:

  • "Filtering Anguish: Primo Levi and the Ancient Art of Storytelling." Part of "The Legacy of Survival in Auschwitz: A Tribute to Primo Levi," Jan. 27, 2013, sponsored by Boston University and the Consulate General of Italy in Boston, in collaboration with the American Jewish Committee, the Consulate General of Israel in New England, and Professionisti Italiani a Boston, Boston University
  • "Anguish, Storytelling and the Epic Poets in Primo Levi’s If This is a Man." Part of "UConn Remembers Primo Levi: After Auschwitz, Beyond Survival,” March 7, 2013, sponsored by Department of Literatures, Cultures and Languages and the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, Uconn, Storrs.
  • "Levi's Auschwitz: A Universal Tragedy? Yes and No." Association for Jewish Studies, Washington, D.C., December 18, 2011.
  • University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Dept. of Jewish Studies. Workshop on Primo Levi, Nov. 1, 2011.
  • "Fackenheim’s Constructed Holiness and Its Place in Historicism." The Tikvah Project on Jewish Thought, Princeton University, Tikvah Working Group "Holiness," May 24, 2010.
  • "Memory and Fiction: Primo Levi and Holocaust Witnessing." The Goldin Lecture in Jewish Thought, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, April 15, 2010.
  • "Primo Levi and Dante: The Black Hole at the Center of If This is a Man,"Association for Jewish Studies, Dec. 2008.
  • "Emil L. Fackenheim and the Problem of Historicism." Association of Jewish Studies, Los Angeles, CA, December 22, 2009.
  • "Kristallnacht: Its Precedences and Ramifications, a Multidisciplinary Approach," Connecticut College, Nov. 2008.
  • "The Holocaust’s Uniqueness: The Question of Religion, Narrative and Politics in Primo Levi and Emil L. Fackenheim." Conference of the American Comparative Literature Association, Long Beach, Calif., April 26, 2008.
  • "Levi’s Auschwitz and Dante’s Hell: Witnessing and Literature." Presentation sponsored by the Luce Program in Scripture and Literary Arts, Boston University, March 4, 2008.

Portnoff is a member of the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Academy of Religion, and the Association of Israel Studies. 

Visit the religious studies department website.