Lesleigh Cushing - Colgate University Faculty Directory

Colgate Directory


Lesleigh Cushing

Murray W. and Mildred K. Finard Associate Professor in Jewish Studies, and Associate Professor of Religion; Director, Jewish Studies Program
Religion, 307 Lawrence Hall
p 315-228-7696


BA, McGill University, 1993; MTS, Harvard Divinity School, 1995; PhD, Boston University, 2002


  • Biblical Studies
  • Biblical Hermeneutics (particularly literary approaches to the Hebrew Bible, the Bible, and gender)
  • The Reception of the Bible (Bible and literature; Scripture and Literary Arts; Midrash)
  • Bible in American life and culture
  • Judaism
  • Gender and Judaism
  • Post-biblical Jewish literature


I am at work on / have recently completed a number of articles on a variety of topics — intertextuality in Genesis, the intersection of ritual and memory in Exodus, images of the Passover in Jewish fiction, the book of Ruth in historical-critical and theological perspective, midrash in Jewish American literature.  I also have two book projects underway.  The first, Reading the Bible from the Left, looks at the ways the Bible has been used in American public and political discourse, with a view to the way it has been read in debates about abortion, homosexuality, the environment, capital punishment, marriage, poverty, and euthanasia. The second, provisionally titled Long Story Short: The Bible in the American Short Story, is a collaboration with Peter S. Hawkins and will be part of Bloomsbury's New Directions in Religion and Literature series.  


Sustaining Fictions: Intertextuality, Midrash, Translation, and the Literary Afterlife of the Bible. New York: T & T Clark, 2008.

Co-Edited Volumes
From the Margins: Women of the Hebrew Bible and their Afterlives. Peter S. Hawkins, co-editor. Sheffield UK: Sheffield-Phoenix, 2009.

Scrolls of Love: Ruth and the Song of Songs. Peter S. Hawkins, co-editor. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006.

Guest Editor
Served as guest editor of an issue of Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies and Gender Issues. The focus of the issue is the reception of biblical women. (Spring 5773/ 2013)

Articles and chapters in books
“The Book of Ruth: Between Story and History, Between Sacred and Secular (or, Scripture for the Pew’s Jews)”
The Journal of Textual Reasoning  9.1 (June 2016)

“Midrash in 20th Century Jewish American Literature” in The Routledge Companion to Literature and Religion, Mark Knight, ed. Abingdon UK and New York: Routledge, 2016. pp. 320-331.

“Reading Genesis Literarily in the Liberal Arts Setting: A Case Study”
Religion and Literature 47.1 (Spring 2015) pp. 41-46.

“Time, Memory, Ritual and Recital: Religion and Literature in Exodus 12.”
Religion and Literature 46.2-3 (Summer-Autumn 2014). pp. 75-94. 

“Introduction” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies and Gender Issues Number 24, Spring 5773/2013. pp. 5-11.

“Paradise Found” Religion and Literature 41.2 (Summer 2009). pp. 213-219.

“Just Another Jewish Mother? Mary in the Jewish Imagination” in From the Margins 2: Women of the New Testament and their Afterlives. Christine Joynes and Christopher Rowland, eds. Sheffield UK: Sheffield-Phoenix Press, 2009. pp. 6-23.

“From Blanket to Blank Slate: The Lives and Times of Abishag the Shunammite” in From the Margins: Women of the Hebrew Bible and their Afterlives. Peter S. Hawkins and Lesleigh Cushing Stahlberg, eds. Sheffield UK: Sheffield-Phoenix Press, 2009. pp. 122-140.

“Refuse, Realism, Retelling: Literal and Literary Reconstructions of Noah’s Ark” in Revaluation, Subversion, Nostalgia: Contemporary Echoes of the Bible, ed. Beth Hawkins Benedix. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. pp. 23-41. 

“Modern Day Moabites: (Mis)Using the Bible in the Debate about Same Sex Marriage” Biblical Interpretation 16, 5 November 2008. pp. 442-475.

“The Opposite of Jewish: On Remembering and Keeping in Contemporary Jewish American Fiction” Shofar Spring 2007 (Vol. 25, No. 3). pp. 72-90.

“Where Has Your Beloved Gone? The Song of Songs in Contemporary Israeli Poetry.” In Scrolls of Love: Ruth and the Song of Songs. Ed. Peter S. Hawkins and Lesleigh Cushing Stahlberg. New York: Fordham UP, 2006. pp. 315-329.

“The Missing Missus: Inventing Noah’s Wife” in Sacred Text, Secular Times: The Hebrew Bible in the Modern World. Leonard Jay Greenspoon and Bryan F. Lebeau, eds. (Omaha: Creighton UP, 2000). pp. 103-133.

Scholarly Presentations

Four Introductions to Midrash in 20th Century Jewish Literature
Paper presented at a symposium on Literature and Religion at the University of Toronto, June 2014.

Great Jewish Books: The Bible in the Core
Presentation at “Jewish Text in College Humanities,” a symposium hosted by the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies at Boston University, October 2013.

The Science and Poetry of Genesis 1
Paper presented at the Association of Core Texts and Courses annual conference in Ottawa, Ontario, March  2013.            

Sex and the Singular Girl: Reading Dinah and Tamar
Paper presented at the Hartog Symposium, Pomona College, November 2011.

Dinah, Tamar, and the Corrective Art of Biblical Narrative
Paper given in a Bible and its afterlives seminar at the Hospitable Text conference at the University of Notre Dame’s London campus.  July 2011.

After the Flood: Sex and Slavery in the Interpretive History of Genesis 9
Paper as part of a panel on afterlives of the Core at the Association of Core Texts and Courses annual conference in New Haven, April 2011.
At that same conference, I chaired a panel on Questions that Christianity Raises in the Core.

Torah Commentary 2.0: A New Generation of Jewish Interpretation
Invited talk as part of an interdisciplinary Jewish Studies conference at University of Virginia, November 2010.

New Feminist Approaches to the Study of Judaism
Participant in roundtable discussion scheduled for the the Association for Jewish Studies annual meeting, December 2008.

Just Another Jewish Mother? The Virgin Mary in the Jewish Imagination
Presentation on depictions of Mary in Jewish literature and popular culture, given at a conference on the literary afterlives of New Testament women, Oxford University, March 2008.

Noah’s Poop Deck: Reconstructing the Ark
Invited lecture, Connecticut College, Department of Religion, December 2007.

What (a) Waste: Literal and Literary Readings of the Flood Story
Invited lecture, Rochester University, Department of Religion and Classics, October 2007.

The Ten Commandments in a Twelve-Step Nation
Presentation on the use of the Ten Commandments in American self-help literature, given at the Colgate  Humanities Colloquium, November 2006.

The American Appropriation of the Ten Commandments
Presentation on the popular American understanding of “the Ten Commandments” as a shorthand for morality and religiosity, at a conference on the Ten Commandments, U-Wisc. Madison, April 2006.

Into the Whirlwind: God’s Retreat in Biblical Fictions
Presentation on the recasting of the encounter between humans and the divine in novels retelling biblical stories, at the American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting, Princeton, March 2006.

Modern Day Moabites: The Book of Ruth and the Question of Gay Marriage
Presentation in a panel on literary (mis)readings of religious texts in the Religion and Literature section of the Midwestern Modern Languages Association, November 2005.

The Opposite of Jewish: On Remembering and Keeping in Contemporary Jewish Literature
Presentation on the questions of memory and community in writing by three contemporary Jewish authors, for “Identity, Representation and Narrative in the Studies of Religion,” a conference at Columbia University, March 2005.

O Brother, What Art Thou?
Presentation on the adaptation of Homer by Joel and Ethan Coen, presented at the Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association annual meeting, April 2004.

Not in Heaven
Response to Michael Zank’s paper “Where Art Thou? Biblical Perspectives of Responsibility” as part of the 2003-04 lecture series at the Institute for Philosophy and Religion, Boston University, January 2004.

I Will Also Forget Thy Children: Childhood in Jewish Studies
Presentation on the question of the child in Judaism and in Jewish Studies, presented at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, November 2003.

The Tanakh: A New Old Testament?
Presentation on the teaching of the Hebrew Bible in the Christian-culture academy at the Association for Jewish Studies annual meeting, December 2002.

The Good Book Among the Great Books
Presentation on the place of the Bible in the Liberal Arts Curriculum at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, November 2002. 

The Real Hero of the Akedah: Reading Rabbinically
Public lecture on the echoes of rabbinic midrash in the poetry of Yehuda Amichai, Saint Michael’s College, University of Toronto, January 2002.

Teaching the Bible:  The Bible and Faith Claims and The Bible and the Humanities 
Co-cordinator, with Michael Zank, of two workshops on teaching the Bible, held during the New England and Maritimes Academy of Religion regional meetings, April 2002 and April 2001.

The Effect of the Bible on Literary Translation
Presentation on the translation of Dan Pagis’s biblically allusive poetry from Hebrew to English, given to the Bible Translation section at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, November 1998.

The Missing Missus: Inventing Noah’s Wife
Presentation at the 10th annual Klutznick Symposium, Creighton University, September 1997.