Hannah Zaves-Greene

Undergraduate Discipline


BA, Sarah Lawrence College. PhD, New York University. Zaves-Greene’s research focuses on the intersection of American Jewish history, migration studies, disability studies, gender and women’s history, and American legal and political history. Her current book project, Able to Be American: American Jews and the Public Charge Provision in United States Immigration Policy, 1891-1934, explores how American Jews responded to prejudice against immigrants on the basis of health, disability, and gender in federal law and its enforcement. In addition to teaching at NYU, she has taught at Cooper Union and the New School for Social Research. Her public history writing appears online at the JewniverseActivist History Review, and Jewish Women’s Archive; her academic work on the politics of birth control and disability-based immigration discrimination has been published in American Jewish History and AJS Perspectives, with forthcoming work in a peer-edited volume on Irish and Jewish migration and the Journal of American Transatlantic Studies. SLC, 2023-

Undergraduate Courses 2022-2023


Migration, Mobility, and Modernization: Exploring Received Narratives in American Jewish History

Open, Seminar—Spring

What is “Jewish” about American Jewish history? Does a single “American Jewish history” even exist? What does “Jewishness” mean, and does it differ from “Judaism”? How do we reconcile history and memory? This course invites us to think critically about American Jewish history beginning in the colonial period when Jews first settled on American shores, thereafter, and continuing into the present. These questions will allow us to explore how Jews developed a diverse and fluid array of social, cultural, political, and religious practices as they encountered new social structures, ideologies, and cultures throughout what became the United States. Our discussions will center Jewish communal formation and evolution in response to the changing conditions of the United States over time, as we trace how these innovations contributed to the diversity of Jewishnesses that we recognize today. We will examine Jewish immigration to the United States, a complex and multifaceted process that encompasses immigrants’ decisions to leave their homes, journey across land and sea, arrive in a new country, build new lives, and grapple with the question of naturalization and negotiating multiple types of borders throughout. Additionally, we will consider how gender, race, ethnicity, class, religion, and disability shaped American Jews’ self-understandings, relationships to the places where they settled, and interactions with the people and governmental institutions that they encountered along the way. In our classroom community, we will deepen our conceptions of American Jewish history by analyzing texts featuring both storied figures and marginalized voices, as we learn to apply different theoretical approaches and examine how historical narratives evolved and coalesced. Students will analyze primary sources, write creative pieces unpacking historical events, and produce a research paper on a topic of their choice. The readings chosen for this course are not meant to be exhaustive but, rather, to strengthen students’ understanding of American Jewish history, provide a range of theoretical approaches to enhance their analytical toolboxes, and illuminate the construction and perpetuation—and, when relevant, associated agendas—of American Jewish historical narratives.