Profiles

Elizabeth Shanks Alexander

Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Elizabeth Alexander’s research focuses on the classic texts of rabbinic Judaism (midrash, Mishnah and Talmud). Her most pressing questions have to do with how rabbinic literature functions as literature, and how it conveys meaning.  Orality theory has taught her to see rabbinic texts as moments in a larger conversation and her work often tries to reconstruct the thinking that drives the conversation.  She also makes use of literary theory to discern patterns in the texts that point towards themes and tropes.  Alexander is particularly drawn towards theological and ethical topics in rabbinic literature.  She has also written a lot about gender.  Her courses cover a range of topics in Jewish religion, including ethics, law, gender, ritual and theology.  Her graduate courses treat these topics while also developing advanced skills in reading and interpreting various genres of rabbinic literature.