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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: German Studies

Staff in the Department of German

Go to the MLAC staff pages.

Dr Yael Almog, MA, PhD The University of California, Berkeley

Personal web page

Assistant Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43418
Room number: ER214, Elvet Riverside II

(email at

I research German literature and culture since the 1750 up until the present. I have a strong interest in theology, philosophy, and literary theory.

My first monograph Secularism and Hermeneutics appeared in June 2019 with the University of Pennsylvania Press’ series “Intellectual History of the Modern Age.” This book argues that the conceptualization of readers as a coherent collective helped late-Enlightenment thinkers present the Bible as a universal cultural asset. To establish this, I investigate biblical exegesis and aesthetics in the works of J. G. Herder, Moses Mendelssohn, Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher. My ongoing research explores connections between German and Hebrew literatures; hermeneutics and literary theory; and literature and political philosophy. I’m happy to supervise research students working in any of these areas.

My second book project investigates post-1945 literary and artistic presentations of Europe as a homeland for Jews. I study works by German-Jewish émigrés and by Jewish immigrants to Germany that depict the irony that ensues when, for some individuals, the Jewish exile in Europe became an exile from Europe. I ask how “fictions of return” to Europe have posed a continual challenge to political theories that view the Jewish departure from Europe as constitutive of post-war reality due to its irreversibility, such as Hannah Arendt’s accounts of totalitarianism. In presenting this project to the wider public, I often work together with artists and authors. In doing so I have collaborated with the Gorki Theatre Berlin, the Goethe Institute Amsterdam, the Tarbut Convention in Schloss Elmau, and the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Before coming to Durham I held several research posts in Germany. I was a project leader at the Martin Buber Institute for Jewish Thought and Philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt, where I lectured in theology. I have been a fellow in intellectual history at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg in Göttingen. I have also worked at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin (ZfL), where I researched the interdependence of literary theory and theology in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Selected Publications

Authored book

Book review

  • Forthcoming 'Georg Benjamin. Ein bürgerlicher Revolutionär im roten Wedding by Bernd-Peter Lange', Weimarer Beiträge
  • 2018 'Goethe and Judaism: The Troubled Inheritance of Modern Literature by Karin Lynn Schutjer', Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 54, pp. 278-280
  • 2018 'In Search of the Hebrew People: Bible and Nation in the German Enlightenment by Ofri Ilany', German History 36, pp. 639–641
  • 2018 'Prophecies of Language: The Confusion of Tongues in German Romanticism by Kristina Mendicino', German Studies Review 41, pp. 168-170
  • 2016 'Empire of Chance: The Napoleonic Wars and the Disorder of Things by Anders Engberg Pedersen', Goethe Yearbook 23, pp. 300-302
  • 2016 'Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815 by Matt Erlin', Weimarer Beiträge 62, pp. 630-633
  • 2016 'The Practices of the Enlightenment: Aesthetics, Authorship, and the Public by Dorothea von Mücke', Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 135, pp. 307-309
  • 2013 'Zwischen Eros und Mitteilung. Die Frühromantik im Symposion der „Athenaeums-Fragmente“ by May Mergenthaler', MLN 128 pp. 669–671

Chapter in book

  • Forthcoming 'Aesthetic Exegesis: The Hebrew Imaginary in Hamann and Herder and the Notion of Textual Comprehension', in Kokin, Daniel (ed.), Hebrew between Jews and Christians, de Gruyter.
  • 2020 'Sympathy for Animals and Savages in Herder’s Treatise on the Origin of Language', in Piirimäe, Eva, Schmidt, Johannes & Steinby, Liisa (eds.), Herder on Sympathy and Empathy: Theory and Practice, Brill.
  • 2018 'Herder’s Gypsies and Other Nomads', in Piasere, Leonardo & Solla, Gianluca (eds.), I Filosofi E Gli Zingari, Arcane.
  • 2018 'Literary Theory', in Christine Helmer et al. (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 823–827
  • 2017 'Das Nachleben einer Opferung: zu David Grossmans eine Frau flieht vor einer Nachricht', in Priesemuth, Florian, Linke, Dörte & Schinagl, Rosa (eds.), Sprachen des Unsagbaren, Springer, pp. 165-180
  • 2017 'Europe Will Be Stunned: Visualization of a Jewish Return', in Eshel, Amir & Seelig, Rachel (eds.), The German-Hebrew Dialogue: Studies of Encounter and Exchange, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 197-210
  • 2016 'Cognition and the Biblical God: Herder’s Response to Leibniz', in Allert, Beate (ed.), Herder: From Cognition to Cultural Science, Synchron Press, pp. 183-196
  • 2016 'Das Böse', in Weidner, Daniel (ed.), Das Handbuch für Religion und Literatur, Springer, pp. 339-343
  • 2015 'Biblical Happiness', in Dale C. Allison et al. (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 285-285
  • 2015 'Hearing/Listening', in Dale C. Allison et al. (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 518–520

Edited book

Edited Journal

Journal Article

Translated Book

  • 2019 (co-authored with Herder, Johann Gottfried) (trans.). Treatise on the Origin of Language . Resling Publishers

Translated Chapter in Book

  • 2016 (co-authored with Tomer Gardi) (trans.). 'Broken German '. In GRANTA Israel. (ed.). pp. 55–66.

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