The Pathos of Chosenness: Who are the Jews if not Exceptional?

December 9, 2020 (Wednesday) / 5:00 pm


The Pathos of Chosenness: Who are the Jews if not Exceptional?

Todd Gitlin

Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University

Presented by Penn’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and Wolf Humanities Center

In their 2013 book, The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election, Todd Gitlin and his co-author tried to redeem the claim of chosenness as a concept that might be parlayed into a humane and universalistic vision. In other words, they aimed to square the circle on behalf of an ideal quite different from both Netanyahu's and MAGA's. Gitlin discusses the failure of their ambition in recent years.

Cosponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.

Todd Gitlin is an American writer, sociologist, communications scholar, novelist, poet, and not very private intellectual. He’s written or contributed to numerous popular and scholarly books and periodicals about mass media, politics, intellectual life, and the arts. His forthcoming book is a novel set in the 1960s, The Opposition. His 2000 book, Sacrifice, won the Harold U. Ribalow Prize for books on Jewish themes. The Sixties and The Twilight of Common Dreams were Notable Books in the New York Times Book Review. Inside Prime Time received the nonfiction award of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association; The Sixties was a finalist for that award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

He holds degrees from Harvard University (mathematics), the University of Michigan (political science), and the University of California, Berkeley (sociology). He is now a professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph.D. program in Communications at Columbia University. Previously, he was a professor of sociology and director of the mass communications program at the University of California, Berkeley, and a professor of culture, journalism and sociology at New York University. During 1994-95, he held the chair in American Civilization at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has been the Bosch Fellow in Public Policy at the American Academy in Berlin, a resident at the Bellagio Study Center in Italy and at the Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California, a fellow at the Media Studies Center in New York, and a visiting professor at Yale University, the University of Oslo, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, East China Normal University in Shanghai, the Institut Supérieur des Langues de Tunis in Tunisia, the American University of Cairo, and the Université de Neuchatel (Switzerland).