Levene named Brooks and Suzanne Ragen professor of religious studies


Nancy Levene

Nancy Levene, a philosopher whose research spans religious studies, political theory, literature, and the arts, and has focused on the ethical implications of our notions of modernity, has been appointed Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Studies religious, with immediate effect.

Levene is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) of the Department of Religious Studies.

Levene’s two books, “Spinoza’s Revelation: Religion, Democracy, and Reason” (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and “Powers of Distinction: On Religion and Modernity” (University of Chicago Press, 2017) define the field. “The Revelation of Spinoza” offered a significant reinterpretation of Spinoza as a thinker of equality and sovereignty. The “powers of distinction”, hailed as a major contribution to post-secular thought, offer a new way of understanding modernity as an ethical claim on the world. For this work, Levene received the American Academy of Religion Book Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion.

His articles pursue the functioning of fundamental concepts of the humanities, such as scholarship and violence, ethics and interpretation, and the canon of both religious and secular. They range from readings by Anselm, Levinas, Freud, Kierkegaard and other bodies of thought to new perspectives on the nature of history and religion and the politics of their study. This work has been published in Philosophy Today, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Religion, and other publications in the fields of philosophy and religious studies. Additionally, Levene has co-curated two digital essay collections for The Immanent Frame, published by the Social Science Research Council, and is co-editor of Textual Reasonings: Jewish Philosophy and Text Study at the End of the Twentieth Century (Grand Rapides: Eerdmans, 2002). She is currently working on Freedom of Interpretation: the challenges and pleasures of working with, conserving and freely using works of art and thought, including literature, philosophy and film.

At Yale, Levene was instrumental in establishing the subfield of the Doctorate in Religion and Modernity offered by the Department of Religious Studies and served as the Deputy Director of Graduate Studies of the subfield from 2018-2020. served as vice president of the Yale College Executive. Committee in 2020-2021, and currently sits on the Executive Committee for Judaic Studies. She is a committed mentor, and her undergraduate thesis advisors represent a wide range of majors, including philosophy, anthropology, religious studies and ethics, politics and economics, reflecting the broad impact of his scholarship and his teaching.

Beyond Yale, Levene is actively helping to shape the discipline of religious studies. An elected member of the American Society for the Study of Religion, she currently serves on the editorial board of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion., and was previously a member of the editorial board of The Immanent Frame. She has been a guest lecturer at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, the Collegium for Advanced Study in Helsinki, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, and peer institutions across the country.

She received her Bachelor of Arts from York University and her Doctorate. at Harvard.

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