ABSTRACT | This talk looks to European Jewry between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to illuminate the role of love in a modern nationalist movement. In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, Jewish nationalists such as the historian Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891) professed a sentimental love of Jews and of the land of Israel. In the 1880s, the Lovers of Zion movement produced poetry in which attachment to Zion and the Jewish people was more romantic than sentimental. With the advent of Herzlian political Zionism, the Zionist labor movement, and the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, there arouse a more dynamic variety of romanticism, which assumed more explicitly erotic and militant dimensions than had previously been the case.
BIO | Derek Penslar is the William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History at Harvard University. He has previously taught at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, and Oxford, where he was the inaugural holder of the Stanley Lewis Chair in Israel Studies. Penslar has published ten books, including Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (2001), Jews and the Military: A History (2013) and Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader (2020), which won the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for History. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and President of the American Academy for Jewish Research.