101: Adele Reinhartz

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My guest this week is Adele Reinhartz, Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa. We learn how work in religion and film became an interest of hers and that Adele was active and non-athletic in childhood. She grew up in a secular Jewish household and ended up majoring in Jewish Studies and by default Religious Studies. We discuss whether Judaism is a religion or should be configured as an identity.
Adele talks about work on Christ-figures in the light of Judas and the Black Messiah and she looks at why we have these tropes at a time of a decline of religious literacy. She talks about her teaching approach and whether and how to screen a film to her students.
Her parents loved the movies and Adele talks about how she took her own children and now her grandchildren to the cinema. She tells us about her most indelibly etched experience of going to the movies, which involves going to see The Jungle Book and we discuss why people enjoy sad movies.
We learn that Adele wouldn’t want to go back to any previous part of her life and she talks about how it is hard to look forward during the pandemic. She discusses how she listens to the radio and we discover that the first LP she was given was Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence. Adele also reveals that she does choral singing with virtual choirs in Britain.
We learn how Adele ended up in academia and how she was taught by Ed Sanders who was teaching at McMaster when she was a student and brought the New Testament alive.
Adele considered other career paths early in her PhD, including going into Law School, but that wasn’t compatible with starting a family. She talks about how she didn’t have a burning passion to go into academia and we learn that she’s not really a nostalgic person.
We talk about how teaching has changed due to the pandemic, why she is happy with where she is in her life, but why nostalgia is a complicated business and how positive outcomes can accrue from things we know we shouldn’t have done.
At the end of the interview we learn why Adele can’t watch films about dementia or the Holocaust, yet her parents, who were Holocaust survivors, would watch all of them. We talk also about whether a comedy can be made of the Holocaust.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Adele Reinhartz and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.

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