Andrea Dara Cooper

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Andrea Dara Cooper

Assistant Professor
Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought and Culture


Ph.D., New York University, 2013
B.A., University of King’s College and Dalhousie University, 2005

Research Interests

  • Modern Jewish thought
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Continental philosophy and post-Shoah ethics
  • Medieval Jewish philosophy and mysticism
  • Theories of culture, literature and psychoanalysis

Professional Biography

I work at the intersection of Jewish thought, cultural theory, and continental philosophy, emphasizing connections between religious studies and critical theory. My book, Reading Beyond the Fratriarchy in Modern Jewish Thought, under contract with Indiana University Press, brings current readers into conversation with the twentieth-century Jewish philosophical canon through a critical gendered reading of key works in the field. I investigate familial tropes in the theological and ethical frameworks of Franz Rosenzweig and Emmanuel Levinas. Organized around the relational models of erotic love, brotherhood, and paternity, among others, the book presents a rigorous feminist reading to show how a traditionally Jewish patriarchal genealogy shapes and informs major works in the field. I contend that we can deeply value these thinkers’ significant contributions while also interrogating and making explicit the structural organizations that drive their philosophical approaches. The book presents a gendered hermeneutics, showing how kinship becomes an organizing metaphor for ethical and communal relationships. My next research project examines animality, sacrificial narratives, and post-Shoah ethics.

At UNC, I teach “Introduction to Jewish Studies,” which acquaints students to the field of Jewish studies as a discipline that spans many academic subfields in the humanities. I also teach courses on “Modern Jewish Thought,” “Post-Holocaust Ethics and Theology,” “Human Animals in Religion and Ethics,” and “The Sacrifice of Abraham.” The study of gender is a central method of analysis in both my research and teaching, as it brings to light fundamental questions of subjectivity, agency, and hermeneutics. My commitment to interdisciplinary research in the study of religion drives my approach to teaching religious studies courses.

Awards and Honors

Paula E. Hyman Mentoring Program for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies, Association for Jewish Studies Women’s Caucus, 2014-2015

Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture doctoral scholarship, 2011-2012

NYU-Cambridge Mainzer Visiting Fellowship at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, 2010

Courses Recently Taught

  • RELI 123/JWST 100: Introduction to Jewish Studies
  • RELI 224H: Modern Jewish Thought
  • RELI 426H: The Sacrifice of Abraham
  • RELI 079/RELI 226: Human Animals in Religion and Ethics
  • RELI 420/JWST 420: Post-Holocaust Ethics and Theology

Recent Publications

“Modern Jewish Thought and the Fratriarchy,” Forthcoming, AJS Perspectives, Spring 2019, “The Patriarchy Issue.”

“Maintaining Oppositions in Musar.” Journal of Jewish Ethics, Vol, 3, No. 1, 2017.

“A Levinasian Ethics of Maternal Sacrifice” (In revision)

Review, Aaron Gross, The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Applications, Anthrozoos, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2017.

“Teaching Beyond the Canon: New Approaches to Jewish Studies.” AJS News, “The Scholarship Issue,” February 2016.

“Centaur and Muselmann: On the Threshold of the Human Animal” (In preparation)