Sam Catlin

Classics 116

Curriculum vitae


Advisor: Na’ama Rokem (Comparative Literature); Sarah Hammerschlag (Divinity School)


Cohort year: Autumn 2015


I’m a joint Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature (Track II: Literature & Religion) and Ph.D. student in the Divinity School (Religion, Literature & Visual Culture concentration). My research investigates the way the modern idea of “literature” and the academic discipline of “literary studies” come to inherit and sustain religious texts, categories, and debates in the putatively secular modern West. I’m particularly concerned with the role notions about Judaism play in the formation and institutionalization of both “literature” and “religion,” ultimately putting both of these concepts into question.

Specific areas of interest include: the history of literary theory and criticism from Plato to the present (especially deconstruction and psychoanalysis); the history of biblical exegesis; the Bible as literature; rabbinic literature; modern Jewish thought and literature; Continental philosophy and critical theory; philosophical hermeneutics; secularism and post-secularism; history of the modern university (especially in the U.S.). My intended dissertation engages all of these areas, offering an historical and theoretical explanation for the surge of interest in rabbinic exegesis among American literary scholars, Jews and non-Jews alike, in the postmodern period (roughly 1967-1998).

I originally arrived at the University of Chicago in 2015 intending to study religion and literature in 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Although my work has since settled in other time periods, I still maintain keen interests in Reformation theology and early modern European literature, especially as these get taken up in later political and religious discourse; and I remain actively engaged with work in the field and the community of early modernists at Chicago and elsewhere.

Workshops: Jewish Studies; Literature & Philosophy; Philosophy of Religions; Renaissance.

Research interests: History of literary theory and criticism; Bible and biblical exegesis; rabbinic literature; modern Jewish thought and literature; Continental philosophy/critical theory; political secularism and its discontents.

Teaching experience:
Comparative Literature B.A. Thesis Seminar (Preceptor, AY 2018-2019)
College Core: “Human Being & Citizen” (Writing Intern, Autumn 2017)

M.A. Comparative Literature, University of Chicago, 2017
B.A. Literary Studies, Middlebury College, 2015