of Religious Studies,
Associate Professor of Jewish Studies
Phone: (615) 322-6340
M.A. Freie Universität Berlin
Ph.D. Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Professor Urban's discipline is Jewish Intellectual History with a focus on German Jewish thought. Her research addresses the dialectic of secularization and the revalorization of religion in modern culture. She examines approaches to religious practice, concepts, ideas, and experience in contemporary post-traditional settings, employing methods and theories from the study of religion, the sociology and philosophy of religion. Her specific interest is the ongoing process of rethinking and readjusting Judaism and Jewish identity in and to changing cultural contexts, which renders her work relevant for a number of sub-fields such as ethnic, diaspora and minority studies. Another trajectory of her research is Jewish theories of religion that creatively reconsider difference and particularity. Her book Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber's Early Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik (The University of Chicago Press, 2008) reads Martin Buber's appropriation of mystical teachings as an attempt to foster a new practice of reading Jewish sources to facilitate social and spiritual renewal. She is currently working on her second book: Theodicy of Culture and the Jewish Ethos: David Koigen's Contribution to the Sociology of Religion which examines the concept of ethos as a critical term for both Judaism and the study of religion.