Deborah Starr begins a three-year term as Director of Jewish Studies this fall. She is a scholar of Modern Hebrew and Arabic literature and Middle Eastern cinema in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Her new book Togo Mizrahi and The Making of Egyptian Cinema (forthcoming Sept. 2020) was chosen as the inaugural volume of the new Jewish Histories and Cultures series at University of California Press. In Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire (Routledge, 2009), she examines late 20th century works of literature and film that nostalgically represent an earlier era of intercultural contact, and in Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff (Stanford University Press, 2011), Starr and her co-editor, Sasson Somekh, make available in English the work of an important Egyptian-Jewish essayist and fiction writer.
Starr brings to the position her prior experience as Cornell’s Director of Jewish Studies (2009-2012) and her many years of service as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. As director of the Jewish Studies Program, she hopes to launch a new Jewish studies major at Cornell. She has plans to continue to enliven the intellectual and cultural life at Cornell by hosting events featuring writers, filmmakers, and artists. "I am excited about working with students and faculty to explore opportunities to integrate public engagement into the Jewish studies curriculum," says Starr. "I hope that in this time of uncertainty and isolation, the Cornell Jewish Studies Program can provide a sense of community for undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and alumni alike."