Ruth von Bernuth

Ruth von Bernuth

Seymour & Carol Levin Distinguished Term Professor; Director of Carolina Center for Jewish Studies

Ruth von Bernuth researches the literature and culture of the late medieval/early modern period—or the 15th to the 18th centuries—with a special emphasis on the 16th century. Further specialties include Yiddish and conversion literature. Her first book, Wunder, Spott und Prophetie: Natürliche Narrheit in den Historien von Claus Narren (Niemeyer, 2009), focuses on natural folly, the precursor to the 19th-century constructs of mental illness and mental disability. Drawing on references from religious, scientific, and literary texts, she argues that natural fools were not yet a source of worry but of wonder.  In her second book, How the Wise Men Got to Chelm: The Life and Times of a Yiddish Folk Tradition, she unpacks the connection between German and Yiddish literary traditions by complicating the assumption that folk tales were simply transferred from the German via Old Yiddish translation into modern Yiddish.

  • Ph.D., Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Office Location: 
Dey Hall 423

Home Institution: University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

  • Yiddish
  • Popular Culture
  • Jewish Studies
  • Science and Culture
  • GDR
  • Disability Studies
  • Medieval and Early Modern
Curriculum Vitae: