Igor De Souza

Igor De Souza's picture
Lecturer in English, Lecturer in Humanities, Associate Research Scholar in Judaic Studies

Ph.D. Jewish Studies, University of Chicago, 2014

I study the history of Jewish civilization: texts, cultures, communities. My primary theoretical concern is the notion of transmission, reception, and transformation—how are ideas transmitted across centuries and contexts? What is gained and what is lost in that process? How is the notion of identity constructed and adapted in light of changing historical events? To that end, I am interested in how intellectual and cultural boundaries, as well as the boundaries of canon, can influence the transmission of ideas.

To ground these theoretical questions, my work deals with two broad fields of inquiry. One is medieval Jewish philosophy, with a focus on the literary aspects of philosophical writing. My forthcoming book, Rewriting Maimonides: Early Commentaries on the Guide of the Perplexed, examines fundamental tensions and exegetical methods in six philosophical commentaries. A second field of interest is the transatlantic Jewish diaspora and Jewish communities of the colonial Americas. My next book will examine the formation and transmission of a Portuguese-Jewish diasporic identity in the early modern transatlantic, and its aftereffects in contemporary Portugal and Brazil.

I currently teach writing-intensive courses for first-year students in the Fall term, and advanced courses in medieval/early modern cultures in the Spring term.

Courses 2016-2017

Fall 2016:

English 114, “Deviance: Insiders and Outsiders”

A writing-intensive examination of deviance through theoretical dimensions (labeling, stigmatization, gender theory) and case studies (inter alia bodybuilding, k-pop fandom, witchcraft).

Directed Studies, Philosophy instructor (Ancient and Medieval Philosophy)

Survey of major Western philosophers from Aristotle to Aquinas, with a foray into Islamic and Jewish philosophy in the Middle Ages.

Spring 2017:

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, “Deviance and Persecution in the Middle Ages”

An investigation of the contexts that give rise to medieval/early modern persecution of four groups: Jews, lepers, gays and lesbians, witches. Analysis of patterns of persecution, tolerance, and intersectionality in victimization; majority-minority relations in the pre-modern world; and their ramifications for the modern period.

Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies, “Ethnicity and Religion in the Jewish Transatlantic”

An exploration of the contexts and boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and race in the Jewish diaspora of the early Atlantic. Topics include: the impact of the Inquisition; tolerance and dissension within religious communities; construction of ethnic and religious identities before and after modernity; “race” as an emerging category in the Jewish diaspora.