University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Elizabeth Shanks Alexander

Professor, Religious Studies

Gibson Hall, S-234


The Social Implications of Grammatical Gender in Biblical Law & Early Rabbinic Commentary (c. 300 CE)


My research focuses on the classic texts of rabbinic Judaism (midrash, Mishnah and Talmud).  My most pressing questions have to do with how rabbinic literature functions as literature, and how it conveys meaning.  Orality theory has taught me to see rabbinic texts as moments in a larger conversation and my work often tries to reconstruct the thinking that drives the conversation.  I also make use of literary theory to discern patterns in the texts that point towards themes and tropes.  I am particularly drawn towards theological and ethical topics in rabbinic literature.  I have also written a lot about gender.