Steven Zipperstein

Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History

At Stanford Since

B.A., Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles

Bio Sketch

Steven J. Zipperstein is Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History. For sixteen years, beginning in 1991, he was Director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies.  In 2007-8, he was Weinstock Visiting Professor at Harvard University; he has held a research appointment for several years at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard. Zipperstein taught at Oxford (for six years), and at universities in France, Russia, and Poland. His first book, The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History, 1794-1881 (Stanford University Press, 1985) won the Smilen Prize and was named the outstanding book on Jewish history published that year. It has been translated into Russian. His second book, Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha’am and the Origins of Zionism (University of California Press, 1993) won the National Jewish Book Award. In 1998, it appeared in Israel in a Hebrew translation published by the Ofakim series of Am Oved. Imagining Russian Jewry: Memory, History, Identity -- based on the Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies – appeared with the University of Washington Press in 1999. He has co-edited three volumes, including (with Jonathan Frankel) Assimilation and Community: The Jews in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Cambridge University Press, 1992), and The Worlds of S. An-sky: A Russian Jewish intellectual at the Turn of the Century (with Gabriella Safran) which was the winner of the Leviant Prize of the Modern Language Association. Zipperstein's most recent book, Rosenfeld's Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing (Yale Univerisity Press, 2009), was shortlisted for the National Jewish Book Award in biography, autobiography, and memoir, and was reviewed widely in United States, the Uk, and elsewhere.  He is currently completing a cultural history of Russian Jewry at the turn of the 20th century and senior editor of a series of three documentary volumes (the first of which is "Jews and the Russian Revolution") sponsored by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, in New York. 

For twenty years he was an editor of the journal Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, and Society, among the premier publications in the field.  For some 25 years, together with his Stanford colleague Aron Rodrigue, he was an editor of the book series Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture which under their supervision published close to 90 books.  Steven Zipperstein stepped down from both in winter 2014.  

Professor Zipperstein, together with Tel Aviv University's Anita Shapira, are now the series editors of the "Jewish Lives" biography series at Yale University Press.  It is anticipated that some 100 books will be published under its aegis in a project funded by the Leon Black Foundation.

In spring 2014, Professor Zipperstein was named the first Jacob Kronhill Visiting Scholar at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.  He has also held fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Institute for Advanced Studies Jerusalem, at Wolfson College, Oxford, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew Studies, the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Yitzhak Rabin Center, in Tel Aviv, and the Stanford Humanities Center. He is President on the Conference on Jewish Social Studies, he was Vice President of the Association for Jewish Studies, and served for seven years as Chair of the Koret Book Awards. He is the recipient of the Judah L. Magnes Gold Medal from the American Friends of the Hebrew University, and the Koret Prize for outstanding contributions to Jewish life. He has given the Weizmann Memorial Lecture in the Humanities at the Weizmann Institute, and endowed lectures at Wesleyan, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, Indiana University at Bloomington, Brown, Tulane, Franklin and Marshall, Rutgers, UC Berkeley, University of Texas, Austin, University of Oregon, University of Florida, Northwestern, University of Illinois, Champaign, and elsewhere.  He is the immediate past Chair of the Academic Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History, in New York, a member of the academic advisory board of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, an editorial board member for the Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and he is on the international editorial board of the Posen Library of Jewish Civilization. He is on the board of several academic journals in Israel, Germany, and Russia. In 2002, he was J. B. Shapiro Senior Scholar in Residence at the United Memorial Holocaust Museum, in Washington D.C.

Working under his supervision, Zipperstein has trained over twenty PhD students who now teach at universities and colleges including UCLA, Johns Hopkins, University of Florida, University of Wisconsin, Northwestern, Monash, McGill, Yeshiva College and Bard.  

Zipperstein has published some sixty articles and many review essays in a wide range of journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post Book World, Ha-Aretz, Forward, The New Republic, Partisan Review, and Dissent.

Research Interests

  • Modern Jewish History
  • History of Zionism
  • Russian and East European Jewish History
  • Biography

Courses Taught

  • Jews and the Russian Revolution
  • Jews in the Modern World
  • Zionism, and its Critics
  • Biography and History
  • Russian Jewish History
  • Graduate Seminar in Modern Jewish History
  • Core Colloquium in Modern Jewish History: 20th Century Historiography

Selected Publications

  • "Rosenfeld's Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing" (2008)
  • The Worlds of S. Ansky, edited by Gabriella Safran and Steven J. Zipperstein (2006)
  • "On the Secrets of Isaac Babel," Dissent, Summer 2003
  • "Isaac Rosenfeld and Literary Biography," Partisan Review, Winter 2002
  • "Goodbye to All That? Elegies for the Book," Dissent, Summer 2000
  • Imagining Russian Jewry: Memory, History, Identity (1999)
  • Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha'am and the Origins of Zionism (1993)
  • Assimilation and Community in Nineteenth-Century Europe, edited by Jonathan Frankel and Steven J. Zipperstein (1992)
  • The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History (1985)

Prof. Zipperstein in the News

Audio and Video