Adam Shear

  • Associate Professor and Department Chair


Medieval and early modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history, history of the Jewish book and the impact of print on Jewish culture and thought in the early modern period, the cultural role of Jewish philosophy in the formation of early modern Jewish identities, Jewish thought and intellectual culture in early modern Italy, the Jewish Enlightenment movement and its relation to the medieval and early modern Jewish past, history of Zionism and Palestine/Israel.


Frequently offered:  Religions of the West; Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Middle Ages; Religious Diversity.

Less frequently offered:  Jews and Judaism—Medieval; Zionism, Anti-Zionism, Post-Zionism; Jewish Mysticism; Modern Israel/Palestine

University Affiliations

Affiliated Faculty: Department of History, Jewish Studies Program, Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Cultural Studies, and European Studies Center of the University Center for International Studies.

Current Projects

“People of Books:  Transforming the Jewish Library in the Age of Print” (monograph project; working title)

Footprints, co-directed with Michelle Chesner, Marjorie Lehmann, and Josh Teplitsky, long-term digital humanities project that focuses on the circulation of early modern Hebrew and Jewish books from their origins in the printing house to the present-day.

Education & Training

  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2003

Representative Publications

“Old Texts and New Media: Jewish Books on the Move and a Case for Collaboration,” co-authored with Michelle Chesner, Marjorie Lehman, and Joshua Teplitsky, in Digital Humanities, Libraries, and Partnerships A Critical Examination of Labor, Networks, and Community, ed. Robin Kear and Kate Joranson (Elsevier, 2018), pp. 61-73. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-08-102023-4.00005-7 

“Medicine, Science, and Jewish Philosophy," in Cambridge History of Judaism, volume 7, 1500-1815, ed. Jonathan Karp and Adam Sutcliffe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of David B. Ruderman, coedited with (HUCP/Pitt Press, 2014).

The Hebrew Book in Early Modern Italy, coedited with Joseph R. Hacker. Jewish Culture and Contexts series, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

The Kuzari and the Shaping of Jewish Identity, 1167-1900, Cambridge University Press, 2008. Winner of the 2008 National Jewish Book Award, Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award in Scholarship, and the 2008 Morris D. Forkosch Award for Best First Book in Intellectual History, awarded by the Journal of the History of Ideas.

“Jewish Enlightenment Beyond Western Europe,” in Cambridge History of Modern Jewish Philosophy, ed. Martin Kavka, Zachary Braiterman, and David Novak, 2012.

“The Sources of Kol Yehudah and Hebrew Printing in Sixteenth Century,” in Rabbi Judah Moscato and the Jewish Intellectual World of Mantua in the 16th-17th Centuries, ed. Gianfranco Miletto and Giuseppe Veltri, Brill, 2012.