Smith College
Ellie and Herbert D. Katz Distinguished Fellowship

Research Topic

Between Moses and Napoleon: Citizenship, Emancipation, and Jewish Political Thought in Italy, 1780–1815


Lois Dubin is Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies at Smith College, where she teaches courses on Jewish history and thought, world religions, and women’s spirituality. She has published widely on modern European Jewish history, notably on the enlightenment and emancipation movements, the culture and politics of mercantile communities, and the emergence of civil marriage and divorce, as well as on feminist theology and ritual. She authored the award-winning book The Port Jews of Habsburg Trieste: Absolutist Politics and Enlightenment Culture and edited two special issues of Jewish History: “Port Jews of the Atlantic” and “From History to Memory: The Scholarly Legacy of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi”; the latter contains her article “Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, the Royal Alliance, and Jewish Political Theory.” Currently she is completing a microhistory Rachele’s Pursuits: Love, Law and Liberty in Revolutionary Europe. Her Katz Center project “Between Moses and Napoleon: Citizenship, Emancipation, and Jewish Political Thought in Italy, 1780-1815” expands her earlier work on political theory and Jewish citizenship: she offers a contextualized study of Italian Jewish thinkers who confronted the “first emancipation” brought by Habsburg and French regimes with a mixture of pragmatic politics and theoretical ideas—ancient and contemporary, religious and political.



Asking if and how Jewish history, culture, and experience offered new paradigms with which to engage the politicaland, conversely, how mainstream political theories might expand Jewish studies in new and productive directions.