David Aberbach

David AberbachProfessor

Areas of Interest:

Hebrew and Comparative Studies


B.A. (University College, London), M.Litt., D.Phil. (Oxford University)

Academic Qualifications:

B.A. Honours, English Literature, University College, London, 1975; M.Litt., Oxford University, 1977; D.Phil., Oxford University, 1980; training in child psychotherapy, The Tavistock Clinic, London, 1979-1982; B.Sc., Social Sciences, Open University, 2000.

Current Position (since 1987):

Professor, McGill University

Visiting Positions (since 1992)

2021: Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

1992-1993: London University (UCL and LSE), Oxford University (Linacre College)

2001-2002: London School of Economics, Department of Sociology

2006: London School of Economics, Department of Government

2009-2014: Harvard University

2014-2018: London School of Economics, Department of International Development

2019- Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University



The Environment and Literature of Moral Dilemmas, Routledge 2021.

At the Handles of the Lock: Themes in the Fiction of S.J. Agnon, The Littman Library and Oxford University Press, 1984.

Bialik , in Jewish Thinkers series, Arthur Hertzberg, ed. Peter Halban and Weidenfeld, London, Grove Press, U.S.A., 1988. Published in Hebrew, Yediot/Eked, 1992.

Surviving Trauma: loss, literature and psychoanalysis, Yale University Press, 1989.

Realism, Caricature and Bias: The Fiction of Mendele Mocher Sefarim, The Littman Library, 1993.

Imperialism and Biblical Prophecy 750-500 BCE, Routledge, 1993. Italian translation, 1996.

Charisma in Politics, Religion and the Media: Private Trauma, Public Ideals, Macmillan, 1996.

Revolutionary Hebrew, Empire and Crisis, Macmillan, 1997.

The Roman-Jewish Wars and Hebrew Cultural Nationalism, (co-author), Macmillan, 2000.

Major Turning Points in Jewish Intellectual History, Palgrave Macmillan 2003.

(Ed. and tr.) C.N. Bialik: Selected Poems, Overlook Press/Duckworth 2004.

Jewish Cultural Nationalism, Routledge, 2008.

The European Jews, Patriotism and the Liberal State: A Study of Literature and Social Psychology, Routledge, 2013

National Poetry, Empires and War, Routledge, 2015

The Bible and the 'Holy Poor': from the Tanakh to Les Misérables, Routledge, 2018

Nationalism, War, and Jewish Education: from the Roman empire to modern times, Routledge, 2019

Literature and Poverty: from the Hebrew Bible to the Second World War, Routledge 2019


‘Moral Dilemmas and the Environment: The Hebrew Bible and the Literature of Industry’, The Journal of the Council for Research on Religion in Montreal (JCREOR), Vol. 2, no. 1 (Fall 2020): 41–58.

’Charisma and Judaism’ in Routledge International Handbook on Charisma, 2020: 140-150.

"Bialik and Wordsworth: Poetry of Childhood" (Hebrew), Moznayim, Vol. 45, no. 2, 1977.

"Screen Memories of Freud, Bialik and Wordsworth," Midstream, October 1979.

"Freud's Jewish Problem", Commentary, June 1980.

"On Re‑reading Bialik: Paradoxes of a 'National Poet'", Encounter, June 198l.

"The Lost Mother in Agnon” (Hebrew), Moznayim, February/March 1982.

"Loss and Separation in Bialik and Wordsworth," Prooftexts, May 1982.

"Screen Memories of Writers," International Review of Psycho-Analysis (1983) 10, 1: 47‑62.

"Charlie Chaplin: Of Crime and Genius," Encounter, May 1983.

"Loss and Dreams," International Review of Psycho-Analysis (1984) II, 4:393‑98.

"Childlessness and the Waste Land in Bialik and T.S. Eliot," Hebrew Union College Annual, vol. 55, 1984.

"Hitler's Politics and Psychopathology," Encounter, September/October 1985.

"Grief and Mysticism," International Review of Psycho-Analysis (1987) 14:509‑526.

"Agnon and the Need for Tradition," in Jewish Book Annual, J. Kabakoff, ed. New York, 1988.

"Creativity and the Survivor: The Struggle for Mastery," International Review of Psycho-Analysis, (1989) 16: 372‑86.

"Infidel Jew: Freud and Psychoanalysis," in Psychoanalysis and Tradition, Laurence Spurling, ed., Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1993.

"Grief and Mystical Union: the Baal Shem Tov and Krishnamurti," Harvard Theological Review, 86, 3 (1993): 209-221.

"Fantasies of Deviance in Mendele and Agnon," Association for Jewish Studies Review XIX (1994) 1:45-60.

"Charisma and Attachment Theory: A Crossdisciplinary Interpretation," International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 76 (1995) 4:545-555.

“Hebrew Literature and Jewish Nationalism in Tsarist Russia 1881-1917," Nations and Nationalism 3,1 (1997): 25-44.

"Revolutionary Hebrew, Empire and Crisis: Toward a Sociological Gestalt," British Journal of Sociology 48,1(1997): 128-148.

“The Artist as Nation-Builder: William Butler Yeats and Chaim Nachman Bialik” (co-author), Nations and Nationalism 5,4 (October 1999): 501-522.

The Roman-Jewish Wars and Hebrew Cultural Nationalism,” Nations and Nationalism 6, 3 (2000) 347-362.

“Trauma and Abstract Monotheism: Jewish Exile and Recovery in the Sixth Century BCE,” Judaism 198, 50, 2 (Spring 2001): 211-221.

“Hellenism and Jewish Nationalism: ambivalence and its ancient roots,” (co-author), Ethnic and Racial Studies 25, 5 (September 2002): 1-23.

“The Poetry of Nationalism,” Nations and Nationalism 9, 3 (April 2003):255-275.

“Fanatic Heart: The Poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg,” Central Conference of American Rabbis Journal, Spring 2003: 16-32.

“Enlightenment and Cultural Confusion: Mendele’s The Mare and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Comparative Literary Studies, 41, 2 (2004) 214-230.

“Religious Metaphor and Its Denial in the Poetry of Amichai,” Judaism, 53, 3-4 (2004): 279-292.

“Nationalism and the Hebrew Bible,” Nations and Nationalism, 11 (2) 2005: 223-242.

“Nationalism, Reform Judaism and the Hebrew Prayer Book,” Nations and Nationalism 12 (1) 2006: 139-159.

“Myth, History and Nationalism: Poetry of the British Isles,” in Nationalism and Ethnosymbolism, Athena S. Leoussi and Steven Grosby, eds., Edinburgh University Press, 2007: 84-96.

“The Embrace of the Rosebush: Anti-Hebraism in Modern Jewish Literature,” The International Fiction Review 34 (1&2) 2007: 92-108.

“Beggars of Love: Agnon and Flaubert,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 7, 2 (2008) 157-174.

“Byron to D’Annunzio: From Liberalism to Fascism in National Poetry 1815-1920,” Nations and Nationalism, 14 (3) 2008: 478-497.

“Holocaust Literature: Foreshadowings and Shadowings,” in Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon: Essays on Modern Jewish Literature in Honor of Ruth Wisse’, Harvard Center for Jewish Studies, Harvard University Press, 2008, pp. 35-53.

"Polish Jewish Patriotism between the Wars,” in Polin, vol. 22 (2009), ed. Antony Polonsky.

"Memoir on Isaiah Berlin," Times Literary Supplement, 5 June 2009.

“Zionist Patriotism in Europe, 1897-1942: Ambiguities in Jewish Nationalism,” International History Review, xxxi, 2: June 2009, pp. 268-298.

“The British Empire and Revolutionary National Poetry,” Nations and Nationalism 16 (2), 2010: 220-239.

“European national poetry, Islam, and the defeat of the medieval Church,” Nations and Nationalism 18 (4) 2012: 603-623.

‘”A One-Sided Love Affair”: German Jewish Literature 1789-1939,’ Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 14 (3) 2015: 1-19.

“On the ‘Holy Poor’: from the Hebrew Bible to the literature of developing countries, 1945 -,” Working Paper, London School of Economics, 2017.

“The Patriotism of Gentlemen with Red Hair: European Jews and the Liberal State, 1789-1939”, The Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 30 (2) 2017: 129-146.

“Poverty and Mass Education: the Jews in the Roman Empire,” Working Paper, London School of Economics, 2018.

Scholarly activities:

Invited Lectures:

Environmental Research Workshop at McGill, ‘The Environment and Literature’

Podcast in Poetry off the Shelf (Poetry Foundation): ‘Poverty’s History’ (on Blake, Wordsworth and Clare)

Oxford University webinar, ‘Energy and the Literature of Moral Dilemmas’ Oxford Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy

Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, on nationalism and the Hebrew Bible

“Trauma and Creativity from the Bible to Modern Times,” in colloquia on Terrors, Traumas and Psychoanalysis, William Alanson White Psychoanalytical Society, New York.

“Nationalism and the Hebrew Bible,” The Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism conference on Nationalism and Language, London, March 2003

“National Poetry 1789-1914: from Revolutionary Idealism to Mass Destruction,” London School of Economics

“National Poetry in the Ottoman Turkish Empire” (Greece, Bulgaria, Armenia). London School of Economics.

“National Poetry in the Tsarist Russian Empire” (Finland, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and Hebrew). London School of Economics

“National Poetry in the British Empire” (Scotland, Ireland, India, pre-State Israel). London School of Economics

“Hebrew Studies as Value: the Image of Hebrew in English Literature,” Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

“Prophets Against the State: On the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” London School of Economics, December 1998.

“On Freud, Psychoanalysis and Judaism,” The New School, New York.

“God-in-hiding: From Loss to Faith and Creativity: an interpretation of the origins of monotheism,” The Weatherhead Center, Harvard University.

“Between Hope and Terror: The European Jews 1789-1939,” Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University.

“Poverty and Ideological Failure: from Wordsworth to Steinbeck - Poverty in Western Literature, 1789-1939,” Kennedy Center for International Development, Harvard University.

“Zionist Patriotism and Anti-Semitism, 1897-1942,” McGill University.

“Byron to D’Annunzio: from liberalism to fascism in national poetry, 1815-1920,” The Weatherhead Center, Harvard University.

“Walt Whitman, American Nationalism and the Revolutions of 1848-49,” The Weatherhead Center, Harvard University.

“Shakespeare to Wordsworth: the Bible, Capitalism and the English Poor,” The Weatherhead Center, Harvard University.

“European National Poetry, Islam and the Defeat of the Medieval Church,” Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University.

“The French Jews, Patriotism and the Liberal State, 1789-1944,” Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University.

“Mendele and the damned poor,” conference on poverty and Judaism, Brown University.

“The Bible, Literature and Modern Economics: the betrayal of Scripture,” McGill University,

“Jewish Patriotism and anti-Patriotic Literature: from Heine to Stefan Zweig,” Cambridge University.

“Divine Scroungers: Scripture, legislation and the poor in Western literature,” London School of Economics.

“Judah Hanasi as Educational Revolutionary,” Oxford, Chabad House.

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