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  Murray Baumgarten

Murray Baumgarten

Distinguished Emeritus Professor of English & Comparative Literature

831-459-2566 (Office)

831-459-1925 (Fax)


Humanities Division

Literature Department

Distinguished Emeritus Professor of English & Comparative Literature
Founding Director of the Dickens Project
Projects Coordinator Jewish Studies


Jewish Studies
Italian Studies


Tuesdays 2:30 - 4pm

Humanities Academic Services

Born on the Simon Bolivar en route from Curacao to Panama, as Baumgarten family fled Nazism; spent childhood in Panama. Family later relocated to New York City.Went to Bronx Science High School. Studied English and Spanish literature at Columbia College in New York; went to California on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, post Sputnik, and received an M.A. and Ph.D. in English. Taught at Williams College 1964- 66; and helped to found Stevenson College, second UCSC college in 1966.

Dickens; Victorian literature and culture; the Bible; translation; modern Jewish writing; the Holocaust; Venice, the Ghetto of Venice, Italian Jews, Italian Culture.

Urban culture and Jewish experience meet in the modern city. As Jewish culture is shaped by the built environment, so has it also shaped the meanings and practices that engender the city realm. I continue to work on their reciprocal encounter, exploring urban culture and Jewish city writing in its many forms. This has led me to studies of Dickens and the city, and the "city scriptures" of the great American and Israeli writers of our time.

Most recently I have turned to the study of Venice and its Ghetto, the first state-sponsored space in which the Jews were forcibly sequestered, beginning on March 29, 1516. Before there were ghettos there was Il Ghetto. This enforced Jewish space initiates the modern Jewish situation: the Ghetto has shaped Jewish life and self-understanding in myriad ways. Its multiplication into the many ghettos that subsequently defined Jewish life throughout Italy almost until the end of the nineteenth century speaks to its paradigmatic status.

Against the effort to enforce state control of Jewish life — the Ghetto was an island patrolled on land and water by Christian guards who were paid for by a levy on the Jewish community -- the Jews devised spaces of possibility, that were commercial, religious, and cultural. To explore the life-world of the Venetian Ghetto is to engage the ways in which Jews turned the situation of exile into a diasporic center that made possible a measure of agency and autonomous experience. This too was paradigmatic: how and to what extent and with what results city life and culture ameliorated the trauma of exile continues to focus my research.

See research interests for areas in which I teach literature -- modern English and European literature, modern Jewish writing -- urban culture, urban writing.

Emeritus, Neufeld-Levin Chair in Holocaust Studies
University of California at Santa Cruz

  • # Neither Exile nor Homeland: Inventing English Jewish Writing and Culture
  • # A Talk for the 2009 Dickens Project gathering at Santa Cruz
  • # Venice, the Jews, & Italian Culture
  • # Venice Center for International Jewish Studies

  • The Jewish Street: the City and Urban Jewish Writing
  • Varieties of Antisemitism: History, Ideology, Discourse with co-authors Murray Baumgarten; Peter Kenez; and Bruce A Thompson, Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press. 2009.
  • Understanding Philip Roth with co-author Barbara Gottfried, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. 1990.
  • Expectations and Endings: Observations on Holocaust Literature (Working Papers in Holocaust Studies). Monograph edited by Professors Jeffrey Gurock and Lucjan Dobroszycki. New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. 1989.
  • City Scriptures: Modern Jewish Writing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1982.
  • Carlyle: Books & Margins. Santa Cruz , CA : McHenry Library Strouse Carlyle Collection, University of California Press. 1980.
  • Carlyle and His Era. Santa Cruz, CA : McHenry Library Strouse Carlyle Collection, University of California , Santa Cruz . 1975.
  • Belarmino and Apolonio by Ramon Perez de Ayala. Translated from the Spanish with Gabriel Berns. Berkeley , California : University of California Press. 1971. (1983 – paperback reprint, University of California press; 1991 – British Paperback Edition, London , Quartet Books.)
  • Carlyle and "Spiritual Optics." Bloomington , Indiana : Victorian Studies: Volume 11. Indiana University Press, 1968.
  • The ideas of history of Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill. Berkeley , CA : University of California, 1966-1969.

  • Visual & Audio Recording
  • Reading "Great expectations" resource materials for teaching and study
  • 1 edition published in 1987 in English and held by 6 libraries worldwide
  • Primo Levi survival in Auschwitz and the meaningfulness of everyday life by Murray Baumgarten
  • 1 edition published in 1999 in English and held by 1 library worldwide
  • Dual allegiances : Yiddish as theme and value in modern Jewish writing by Murray Baumgarten 1 edition published in 2008 in English and held by 1 library worldwide (audio)

LIT 61J - Introduction to Jewish Literature and Culture
LTMO 144G - Global Jewish Writing
LTMO 144J - Jewish Travel Narratives
LTMO 190N-02 - Topics in Modern Literary Studies: Hebrew Poetry (Senior Seminar)
LTMO 144H Jewish Writers and the European City: Venice// London

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