Vanderbilt Jewish Studies Faculty from 2003 to 2014
M.A. (Freie Universität Berlin 1993)
Ph.D. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2003)
Martina Urban came to Vanderbilt University in 2003. At the time of her departure in 2014, she held the position of Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies.
Prof. Urban is a scholar of 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, and 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. Another trajectory of her research is Jewish theories of religion that creatively reconsider difference and particularity.
While at Vanderbilt, Prof. Urban published several books, including her first, Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber’s Early Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik (The University of Chicago Press, 2008) which 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. Her second book, Theodicy of Culture and the Jewish Ethos: David Koigen’s Contribution to the Sociology of Religion (Walter de Gruyter, 2012) examines the concept of ethos as a critical term for both Judaism and the study of religion.