Ruth Wisse


Biography of Ruth Wisse

Ruth R. Wisse (pronounced "wise"; born May 13, 1936) is the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She is the sister of David Roskies, professor of Yiddish and Jewish literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Wisse was born in Czernowitz in what is today Ukraine, but was then part of Romania. She grew up in Montreal, Canada and earned her PhD from McGill University in 1969. As a professor, Wisse has previously taught at McGill, Stanford, New York, Hebrew and Tel Aviv universities. While teaching at McGill, she developed a "pioneering" graduate program in Jewish studies."

She received one of the 2007 National Humanities Medals. The award cited her for "scholarship and teaching that have illuminated Jewish literary traditions. Her insightful writings have enriched our understanding of Yiddish literature and Jewish culture in the modern world."

She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Jewish Review of Books and a frequent contributor to Commentary. She dedicated her last book, Jews and Power, to the editor, Neal Kozodoy.

Following protests and Harvard University's decision to cancel Marty Peretz's speech after Peretz wrote "Muslim life is cheap, especially to other Muslims", Wisse condemned "Groupthink" at Harvard and defended Peretz, saying that "to wish that Muslims would condemn the violence in their midst is not bigotry but liberality".

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