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Center for Judaic Studies

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Prof. Sarah Pessin

Sarah Pessin

Sarah Pessin
Director and Interfaith Chair, Center for Judaic Studies
Professor of Philosophy
University of Denver

Sturm Hall

Recent Updates

In Fall 2017, Sarah teaches a new cross-listed JUST/PHIL/RLGS/COMN pilot class on Stereotyping and Violence in the US Today; the class features faculty visiting speakers from across AHSS, and includes a student digital storytelling project, a faculty podcast, and a public panel on Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.

In October 2017, Sarah delivers two local presentations:

  1. ""The Jew" as Kenotic Subject, "The Jew" as Pausal Subject: Racialized Alterity as Non-Christian Subjectivity in Rosenzweig and Levinas," Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory Conference, Speaking (Or Not Speaking) of God An Interdisciplinary Conference On The Dialectic Of Divine Presence And Absence, October 2017
  2. "From Wandering Jew and "Old" Testament God to "Jews Will Not Replace Us": Religious Foundations of Anti-Semitism," public presentation in connection with Impact 2025 pilot DU class, Stereotyping and Violence in the US Today, DU, October 17, 2017

In Summer 2017, Sarah organized a daylong "DU learn-in" on "Free Will in Ancient Philosophy," and in Summer-Fall 2017, Sarah took the lead on two new campus/community projects: The DU Interfaith Challenge which encourages people from across campus to transform their online calendars into interfaith calendars, and 'Art/Awareness/Diversity' which features the works of 5 local artists from diverse backgrounds towards the aim of fostering conversation about inclusivity in workplaces across CO.

In recent months, Sarah has published the following new works (and has a number of additional publications in progress and forthcoming):

  • "Ibn Gabirol's Emanationism: On the Plotinian (v. Augustinian) Theology of "Divine Irāda"," in Appropriation, Interpretation and Criticism: Philosophical and Theological Exchanges Between the Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin Intellectual Traditions, edited by Nicola Polloni and Alexander Fidora, 1-18. (Barcelona and Rome: Federation Internationale des Instituts D'Études Medievales / TEMA (Textes et Études du Moyen Âge), June 2017  
  • "Khoric Apophasis: Matter and Messianicity in Islamo-Judeo-Greek Neoplatonism," in Negative Theology as Jewish Modernity, ed. Michael Fagenblat, 180-197. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, March 2017  
  • "From Mystery to Laughter to Trembling Generosity: Agono-Pluralistic Ethics in Connolly v. Levinas  (& the Possibilities for Atheist-Theist Respect)," International Journal of Philosophical Studies, November 2016

"In these and other contexts, Sarah continues to work on projects that build upon her book,  Ibn Gabirol's Theology of Desire: Matter and Method in Jewish Medieval Neoplatonism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Sarah annually co-organizes the Week of Jewish Philosophy with colleague Elias Sacks (CU Boulder), offering scholars, students, and community members opportunities to work through challenging texts and questions in Jewish Philosophy; this year's event is planned for April 2018 (more details TBA). She also annually co-organizes the  Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions conference with Richard Taylor (Marquette University), offering scholars and students working in medieval philosophy an opportunity to share research on the intersection of ideas across Jewish, Islamic, and Christian medieval texts and traditions; this next event takes place at DU in June 2018, and features Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides.

Sarah continues to lead conversations about Levinasian ethics in connection with the  Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site, as she continues to be active in campus inclusivity and diversity efforts.

Sarah also serves on the AHSS Connections committee and as the Chair of the Academic Planning Committee for the Faculty Senate.


MA, Columbia University, New York

PhD, The Ohio State University, Columbus