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Adi Nester

Adi Nester

Assistant Professor and Levine-Sklut Fellow in Jewish Studies


Ph.D., German Studies, University of Colorado Boulder

Intellectual Biography & Awards

My research and teaching interests focus on the interrelations of music, literature, and philosophy in the German and German-Jewish traditions. I am especially interested in the ways in which aesthetics and aesthetic theories inform our understanding of concepts like identity and difference.

My first book explores the expressions of Jewish difference in the first half of the twentieth century through biblical-themed operas, the German-language literary works they are based on, and the intellectual debates surrounding them. By focusing on opera and the Bible as the primary scenes for exploring the concept of Jewish difference, my book identifies two parallel historical discourses that helped articulate German-Jewish difference as an unsettled difference that cannot be contained by a major-minor relation and thereby resists the possibility of a stable German-Jewish identity.

I currently work on two additional book projects, the first explores questions of continuity and disconituity in contemporary German-Jewish literature and culture, while the second studies the connection between music, pain, and pathology in German literature and beyond.

I frequently teach courses on German Jewish literature and culture, the history of antisemitism in Germany, Holocaust representation, German literatue and culture in the early twentieth century, and the relation between literature and music in the German tradition.

My research has been supported by fellowships for emerging scholars in Jewish Studies from the Posen Society of Fellows and the Association for Jewish Studies.

Recent Publications


Unsettling Difference: Music Drama, the Bible, and the Critique of German Jewish Identity, Forthcoming: Cornell University Press (Signale: Modern German Letters, Culture, and Thought ), January 2025.

Articles and book chapters:

“Music Drama Mediated: Thomas Mann on the Literary Wagner” (Forthcoming, Modernism/modernity )

“Beyond representation: The Ethics of Music after Aushwitz in Adorno and Jankélévitch” Monatshefte 116/1 (2024): 1-24.

“Silence, Medium, Transmission: Walter Benjamin’s Metaphysics of Language and Youth” in Force of Education: Walter Benjamin and the Politics of Pedagogy, eds. Dennis Johannßen and Dominik Zechner (New York: Bloomsbury, 2022): 125-141.

“The End of Abstraction and the Beginning of the People: On Law and Representation in Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron,” German Quarterly 93/1 (2020): 19-36.

“Eine ungeheure Epopöe unseres eigenen: Language and the Hebrew Bible in Rudolf Borchardt’s Das Buch Joram,” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 94/1 (2019): 16-38.

Frequently Taught Courses

  • GSLL/ JWST 56 – Germans, Jews, and the History of Antisemitism
  • GERM 247 – Music, Madness, and Genius: The Pathologies of German Musical Fiction
  • GERM/ JWST 274 – Representing the Holocaust: Mediating Trauma in Literature, Art, and Theory
  • GERM 349/449 – Vienna, Munich, Berlin: Revolutions in German Art ca. 1900
  • GERM 301 – German in Conversation
  • GERM 302 – Advanced Communication in German: Media, Arts, Culture
  • GERM 556 – Language Remains: Exploring the German-Jewish Dialogue
  • GERM 860: Wagner’s Legacy: Aesthetics, Politics, Philosophy
  • GERM 875: Writing and Memory in Contemporary German-Jewish Literature

For more details, please reference Adi’s CV.