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Department of History

Contact Information

phone: 615-322-7801
147 Buttrick Hall

Office Hours

no office hours summer 2017


D.Phil., Oxford, 1982

David J. Wasserstein

Professor of History and Jewish Studies
Eugene Greener, Jr. Professor of Jewish Studies; Member, Graduate Department of Religion

David Wasserstein studies medieval Islamic and Jewish history. With a background in classical studies, he is also interested in the classical tradition in Islam, and in particular in the ways in which Judaism, Islam and the classical world intersect culturally, linguistically and politically. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, as well as of The Rise and Fall of the Party-Kings, Politics and Society in Islamic Spain, 1002-1086 (Princeton 1985); The Caliphate in the West. An Islamic Political Institution in the Iberian Peninsula (Oxford 1993); and, with his late father Abraham Wasserstein, of The Legend of the Septuagint, From Classsical Antiquity to Today (Cambridge 2006). He is also the editor (with U. Rubin) of Dhimmis and Others: Jews and Christians and the World of Classical Islam (1997); (with A. Arazi and J. Sadan) of Compilation and Creation in Adab and Luga: studies in memory of Naphtali Kinberg (1948-1997) (1999); (with A. Ayalon) of Madrasa: Education, Religion and State in the Middle East (in Hebrew; Tel Aviv 2004); (with A. Ayalon) of Mamluks and Ottomans, Studies in Honour of Michael Winter (London 2006); (with M. Gammer) of Daghestan and the World of Islam (Helsinki 2006); (with E. Bremer, J. Jarnut and M. Richter) of Language of Religion - Language of the People: Medieval Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Munich 2006); and (with H.M. Cotton, R.G. Hoyland and J.J. Price), From Hellenism to Islam: Cultural and Linguistic Change in the Roman Near East (Cambridge, 2009).

For eleven years he was an editor of Scripta Classica Israelica. He serves or has served on the editorial boards of Israel Oriental Studies, Al-Qantara, Israel Numismatic Research, and other academic journals.

David Wasserstein has received grants and fellowships for research from the British Academy/Royal Irish Academy, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)/EOLAS (Ireland), the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Science Foundation, and the German-Israeli Fund for Scientific Research and Development. He has been a Lady Davis Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a visiting Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute for Advanced Study Berlin, and a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, 2008-2009. In 2012, he delivered the Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

David Wasserstein came to Vanderbilt from Israel, where he was a professor of Islamic history at Tel Aviv University between 1990 and 2004. Before that he taught at University College, Dublin (Ireland).