Ross Brann

Milton R. Konvitz Professor of Middle Eastern Studies & Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow


Ross Brann studied at the University of California-Berkeley, the Hebrew University-Jerusalem, New York University, and the American University in Cairo. He has taught at Cornell since 1986 and served nineteen years as Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Professor Brann is the author of The Compunctious Poet: Cultural Ambiguity and Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991) and Power in the Portrayal: Representations of Muslims and Jews in Islamic Spain (Princeton University Press, 2002). He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Frankel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. Brann is also the editor of four volumes and author of essays on the intersection of medieval Jewish and Islamic cultures. In 2019 he completed Iberian Moorings: Al-Andalus, Sefarad and the Tropes of Exceptionalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). In 2007 Brann was appointed Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and in June 2010 he stepped down as the faculty co-chair of the West Campus House System Council after six years of service as the founding Alice Cook House Professor-Dean. He recently completed Moses Maimonides: A  Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) which will appear later in 2024. In 2023 The Medieval Academy of America elected Ross as a Fellow.

Courses Taught

  • History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Jews and the Classical Age of Islam
  • Judeo-Arabic
  • Theory and Method in Near Eastern Studies
  • Zionism and its Discontents
  • Maimonides
  • Islamic Spain: Culture and Society
  • The Middle East in the News
  • Holy War, Crusade, and Jihad from Antiquity to Present

Research Focus

Current Research

  • “Integrating the study of minorities and the majority in the Arabic-speaking sphere of classical Islam” for submission to “Speculations,” the Centennial Issue of Speculum
  • Intellectual enlightenment, spiritual repose, and aggressive rage: a fresh examination of “‘Aṭeh hod we-‘adeh levash ge’onim” by Solomon ibn Gabirol


  • Moses Maimonides: A  Very Short Introduction (in press, Oxford University Press, 2024)
  • Iberian Moorings: al-Andalus and Sefard and the Tropes of Exceptionalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021) 240 pp.
  • “Hebrew Poetics, and Linguistic Thought,” to appear in The Cambridge History of Rhetoric (General Editors, Rita Copeland and Peter Mack)
  • “Medieval Jewish Translingualism,” in The Routledge Handbook of Literary Translingualism (2021), ed. Natasha Lvovitch and Steven G. Kellman, pp.85-96
  • “Andalusi Hebrew Poetry and the Arabic Poetic Tradition,” Routledge Companion to Arabic Poetry, ed.
    Huda Fakhreddine and Suzanne Stetkevych (London: Routledge, 2023), 108-130.
  • Power in the Portrayal: Representations of Muslims and Jews in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 208 pp. 
  • The Compunctious Poet: Cultural Ambiguity and Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 228 pp. [recipient of the 1992 Maurice Amado Foundation National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Studies]
  • [Ed. with Adam Sutcliffe] Renewing the Past, Reconfiguring Jewish Culture: From Al-Andalus to the Haskalah (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) 237 pp.
  • “Arabic Alongside and into Hebrew: Andalusi Hebrew Literature in Meta-Critical Perspective,” The Routledge Companion to Medieval Iberia: Unity and Diversity, ed. E Michael Gerli (Routledge, 2021), 363-374
  • "An Aramaic Writ from Ramla (1056): A Translation and Genizah Study" in Text, Tradition and the History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (Lawrence Schiffman Festschrift), ed. Stuart Miller (Brill, 2020), 245-253.
  • “Jewish Perceptions of and Attitudes towards Muslims,” in Cambridge History of Judaism, Vol. 5 [Jews and Judaism in the Islamic World, Seventh through Fifteenth Centuries], ed. Philip Lieberman (Cambridge University Press, 2021), 64-91.
  • “The Moors?” Medieval Encounters 15 (2009): 307-318.
  • “He Said, She Said: Re-inscribing the Andalusi Arabic Love Lyric,” in Raymond P. Scheindlin Festschrift, ed. M. Rand and J. Decter (Piscataway NJ: Gorgias Press, 2007), 7-15.
  •  “Rule (’Amīnūkāl)”], Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 5 (2013): 106-110.
  • "Andalusi "Exceptionalism"," in A Sea of Languages: Rethinking the Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History, ed. Karla Mallette and Suzanne Akbari (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013) 119-134.

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