Faculty Profile

Edward Merwin

Part-time Associate Professor of Religion; Director of The Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life(2001)

Contact Information


Asbell Center


His teaching interests are in American Jewish history and popular culture, with a particular focus on the Lower East Side and Yiddish culture. His current research centers on Jewish-themed Broadway plays, and on the history of the Jewish deli in America.


  • B.A., Amherst College, 1990
  • M.A., Hunter College of the City University of New York, 1998
  • Ph.D., 2002

2016-2017 Academic Year

Fall 2016

FYSM 100 First-Year Seminar
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: - Critically analyze information and ideas - Examine issues from multiple perspectives - Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason - Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and - Create clear academic writing The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.

Spring 2017

JDST 250 Beyond Belief: Jewish Sec Cltr
Cross-listed with RELG 260-04.

RELG 260 Beyond Belief: Jewish Sec Cltr
Cross-listed with JDST 250-01.Many Jews nowadays define themselves in secular or cultural terms rather than religious ones. But how did the tradition of secular Judaism come to be? This course will survey the development of secular Jewish identity through an examination of key thinkers over the last three and a half centuries, including Spinoza, Freud, Marx and Einstein. The course will conclude with an examination of secular Judaism in American culture - the drama of Clifford Odets and Arthur Miller, the films of Mel Brooks and Sidney Lumet, and the television shows Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.