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Professor for Jewish Religion in Past and Present Times;
Project leader JewsEast & Project leader of the GIF project The Ten Lost Tribes

Alexandra Cuffel is professor of Jewish Religion in Past and Present Times at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University Bochum. She received several fellowships, among them a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in 2007, the Women’s Studies in Religion Fellowship from Harvard Divinity School in 2006, and a fellowship from the Dorot Foundation at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1996.

Her research focuses on relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims during the Middle Ages, specifically on the intersections of religious polemic, medical theories and gender both in Western Europe and the Middle East. Further research interests are shared saints’ cults and festivals in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean and "racial" attitudes in the Middle Ages. She is currently working on a monograph on shared saints and festivals among Jews, Christians and Muslims in the medieval Mediterranean, and, in conjunction with Prof. Dr. Adam Knobler a study of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim imaginings about the ten lost tribes in conjunction with the development of expectations of the Messiah and an anti-Messiah from the early Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.


Ph.D., Medieval History, New York University, New York City, New York, USA, 2002

M.Phil., Medieval History, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1990

B.A., Medieval Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA, 1988

KHK Fellowship

Duration: May 2011 - April 2012

Office Hours

On appointment

Areas of Research

Jewish, Christian, Muslim relations in the Middle Ages


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2016a. From “Convivencia” to competition: conversion and religious polemic between Jews and Christians focusing on Egypt from Fatimid-Mamluk periods. In: Minorities in contact in the Medieval Mediterranean.
---. 2016b. Jewish tribes and women in the Genesis and battle of the Dajjal: Nu‘ayim ibn Ḥammād al-Khuzā‘ī al-Marwzī’s Kitāb al-Fitan. In: Peoples of the apocalypse: eschatological beliefs and political scenarios, 129–146.
---. 2016c. The Judeo-Arabic Toledot Yeshu and its implications for Jewish relations with Christians and Muslims from the Fatimid-Mamluk periods. In: Toledoth Yeshu in context.
---. 2016d. The sea as magical stage: miracles and (un)holy names in the Chronicle of Aḥima‘aẓ. In: Ein Meer und seine Heiligen.
---. 2016e. Triple entanglement: a Christian Anti-Biography of Muhammad in a Jewish Anti-Christian Polemic. In: Entangled Hagiographies of the Religious Other.
---. 2016f. From geographical migration to transmigration of souls: negotiating religious difference and space among Jews in Early Modern Safed. In: Locating religions: contact, diversity and translocality, 64–93.
Cuffel, Alexandra und Nikolas Jaspert, Hrsg. 2016. Entangled Hagiographies of the Religious Other. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2015a. Between epic entertainment and polemical Exegesis: Jesus and the empress Helen as anti-heroes in Toledot Yeshu. In: Medieval exegesis and religious difference: commentary, conflict, and community in the premodern Mediterranean, 155–170.
---. 2015b. Jesus, the misguided magician: the (re-)emergence of the Toledot Yeshu in Medieval Iberia and its retelling in Ibn Sahula’s Fables from the distant past. Henoch 37, Nr. 1: 4–16.
---. 2015c. Judaistik / Jewish studies. In: Handbuch der Mediterranistik: systematische Mittelmeerforschung und disziplinäre Zugänge, 181–196.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2014. Frakes, Jerold C. [Hg.]: Contextualizing the Muslim Other in Medieval Christian discourse. Speculum: a journal of medieval studies 89, Nr. 2: 476–477. doi:10.1017/S0038713414000207,


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2013. Environmental disasters and political dominance in shared festivals and intercessions among medieval muslims, christians and jews. In: Muslims and others in sacred space, 108–145.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2012. Gendered visions and transformations of women’s spirituality in Hayyim Vital's Sefer ha-Hezyonot. Jewish studies quarterly 19, Nr. 4: 339–384. doi:10.1628/094457012804988975,


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2011. Ibn Sahula’s Meshal ha-Qadmoni as restorative polemic. Journal of medieval Iberian studies 3, Nr. 2: 165–186. doi:10.1080/17546559.2011.610175,


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2010a. Menstruation and pilgrimage. In: Encyclopedia of medieval pilgrimage.
---. 2010b. Gender segregation and pilgrimage. In: Encyclopedia of medieval pilgrimage.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2009a. The Beast. In: Encyclopedia of the bible and its reception, 3.:
---. 2009b. Polemicizing women’s bathing among Medieval and early modern Muslims and Christians. In: The nature and function of water, baths, bathing, and hygiene from antiquity through the Renaissance, 171–188.
---. 2009c. The matter of Odiers: menstrual blood and uncontrolled semen in Thirteenth-Century Kabbalists’ Polemic against Christians, „Bad“ Jews, and Muslims. In: Negotiating community and difference in medieval Europe: gender, power, patronage and the authority of religion in Latin Christendom, 249–284.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2008. Between reverence and fear: Jewish Women and Death in Medieval and Early Modern Ashkenaz. In: Women, pain and death: rituals and everyday life on the margins of Europe and beyond, 143–169.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2007a. Excerpts from Murshid al-zuwwār ilā qubūr al-abrār, al-musannā al-Durr al-munaẓẓam fī ziyāra al-jabal al-Muqaṭṭam by Abd al-Rahmān ibn al-Faqih Uthmān on Sayyida Nafīsa. Metamorphoses 15, Nr. 1-2: 138–139.
---. 2007b. Gendering disgust in medieval religious polemic. Notre Dame, Ind.: Univ. of Notre Dame Press.
---. 2007c. Reorienting Christian „Amazons“: Christian women warriors in medieval Islamic literature in the context of the crusades. In: Religion, gender, and culture in the pre-modern world, 137–166.
Cuffel, Alexandra und Brian Britt, Hrsg. 2007. Religion, gender, and culture in the pre-modern world. Religion, culture, critique. New York, NY [u.a.]: Palgrave Macmillan.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2005. From practice to polemic: shared saints and festivals as in the medieval Mediterranean. University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 68, Nr. 3: 401–419. doi:10.1017/S0041977X05000236,


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2004. Immaculate conception. In: Dictionary of the Middle Ages: Suppl. 1.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 2003. „Henceforward all generations will call me blessed“: Medieval Christian Tales of Non-Christian Marian Veneration. Mediterranean studies 12: 37–60.


Cuffel, Alexandra. 1999. Call and response: European Jewish emigration to Egypt and Palestine in the Middle Ages. The Jewish quarterly review 90, Nr. 1/2: 61–101. doi:10.2307/1455396,


Strotmann, Vivian, Anna Akasoy, Andreas Bendlin, Sven Bretfeld, Alexandra Cuffel, Licia Di Giacinto, Georgios Halkias, Zaroui Pogossian und Dorothea Weltecke. Entangled religions: Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Religious Contact and Transfer. Hg. von Volkhard Krech. Bochum: Ruhr-Univ.

Publications in the Research Bibliography & Repository

Project Leader of JewsEast and The Ten Lost Tribes

Professor of CERES , CERES Directorate and CERES Teaching

Individual Researcher of Jewish Warriors in Distant Lands

Former Fellow of Käte Hamburger Kolleg

Member of Research Department of CERES RD

Member of Studienbeirat and Käte Hamburger Kolleg