Esther Schor

John J.F. Sherrerd '52 University Professor
Professor of English
Chair, Council of the Humanities | Director, Stewart Seminars in Religion | Director, Program in Humanistic Studies
Office Phone
44b McCosh Hall
Office Hours

By appointment only


Esther (Starry) Schor, the John J. F. Sherrerd ’52 University Professor and Professor of English, is a scholar, biographer, poet, and essayist. In 2022, for her biography-in-progress of Horace M. Kallen, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH-Center for Jewish History Fellowship; for her 2006 biography, Emma Lazarus, she received the National Jewish Book Award. At Princeton, she has been honored with the Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities (2020) and the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching (2015).

In the spring of 2020, she was Princeton’s Phi Beta Kappa poet (aka “pandemic poet”). Currently, she serves on the Board of Restless Books and the Advisory Board of the Esperantic Studies Foundation and is a member of the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute.

Teaching: After earning a Ph.D. in English from Yale, she taught at Tufts University and Barnard College before taking up her post at Princeton. She specializes in British Romanticism, teaching courses in Romantic Poetry and Poetics, Romantic Historicism, Romantic Drama, and Travel Literature; active in the program in Judaic Studies, she also teaches American Jewish Literature, Introduction to Judaism, and Yiddish literature in Translation. Her other strong teaching interest is Bible (Bible as Literature; Job and Modernity; Bible, Criticism, and Theory). She is a strong advocate of public humanities and, in 2019, was an NJ-STEP Instructor at East Jersey State Prison.

Humanities Council and Judaic Studies: Currently Chair of the Humanities Council, she was named inaugural Behrman Professor in the Council in 2015, where she served as Acting Chair in 2017–2018.  Teaching the Western Humanities Sequence has been her great delight for many years.  She has served on the Executive Committee of the Program in Judaic Studies since its inception, where she has taught American Jewish Literature, Introduction to Judaism, and Yiddish literature in Translation. She is also the former co-director of Princeton’s interdisciplinary Migration Lab (PIIRS).

Publications: Her scholarship includes Bearing the Dead: The British Culture of Mourning from the Enlightenment to Victoria (Princeton, 1994) and The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley, The Other Mary Shelley: Beyond "Frankenstein" (Oxford, 1993), and Women's Voices: Visions and Perspectives (McGraw-Hill, 1990). Her most recent book is Bridge of Words:  Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language (Henry Holt/Metropolitan, 2016), a cultural history/memoir of the Esperanto movement. She has also published two volumes of poems: The Hills of Holland and Strange Nursery (Sheep Meadow): New and Selected Poems; with poets Meena Alexander and Rita Dove, she co-authored Poems for Sarra, a bilingual collection about the Venetian intellectual Sarra Copia Sullam. An excerpt from her biography-in-progress, “Horace Kallen, George Washington, and the Borah Affair,” recently appeared in the Jewish Review of Books. Other essays and reviews have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Jewish Review of Books, Tablet, and the Forward.

Queries, comments, and recommendations are welcome: [email protected].