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Susannah Heschel: To the Nth Degree

Heschel.gifThe College really does have faculty who can do it all: conduct innovative research, be a wonderful teacher, play a prominent public role, enrich the overall intellectual life of the College, mentor students — and accomplish all of these tasks with style. Professor Susannah Heschel is a good example.

Today Professor Heschel will receive an honorary degree from the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. This doctorate is in addition to the honorary degrees that she has already received from Colorado College and the Augustana Theologische Hochschule, a Protestant seminary in Bavaria, Germany.

Beyond her work in Jewish and Holocaust studies, Professor Heschel had done widely respected research into Jewish-Christian relations over the last two centuries, and her current work focuses on the history of Jewish scholarship on Islam. Her two-year sabbatical from the College is being financed by the Carnegie Foundation.

heschel1.jpgA few years ago, I audited Susannah’s course on the Historiography of the Holocaust, which she ran like a graduate seminar. The eight of us met once per week for three or more hours to discuss a different book. Susannah knew each of the authors well, and in fact, she had brought almost all of them to the College to lecture at some point in the past. Holocaust studies is a fast-developing field, and Susannah skillfully laid out for us the thread of argument between the contending schools of scholarly thought.

Not too bad for a mother who has two lovely kids with her husband, Earth Sciences Professor Jim Aronson. Perhaps the 24-hour clock does not apply to her?

A final point: Dartmouth has not seen such sartorial splendor in a faculty member since Peter Saccio bestrode the campus in a velvet cape!

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