Faculty at the School of Arts and Humanities

David Patterson


Hillel A. Feinberg Distinguished Chair in Holocaust Studies

Areas of Specialization:  Holocaust, Jewish Thought, Anti-Semitism, Israel

Office:  JO 4.800
Mail Station:  JO 31
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  972-883-2049

I played football at Odessa Permian High School in the 1960s. I studied philosophy and comparative literature in an effort to engage the "big questions," often to no avail. I converted to Judaism in 1990 at the age of 42. In my teaching, in the midst of what I call a "meaning famine" that plagues academia, I strive to offer my students bread, and not a stone. My interest in teaching and scholarship is to pursue what is higher in higher learning in a time when nihilism, in various forms and disguises, is fashionable.

My current research interests include (1) ways in which literature articulates the ineffable and photography reveals the invisible in the context of the Holocaust and (2) inscriptions on Holocaust monuments, memorials, and museums and the question of how the meaning of the Holocaust (if there is one) is encrypted in those inscriptions.

In their research, study, and scholarship, I encourage students to work on topics that transform them into witnesses and help them to meet their responsibility to humanity for elevating this world.

I joined the University of Texas at Dallas on 1 June 2010. With degrees in philosophy (B.A., Oregon, 1972) and in comparative literature (M.A., Ph.D., Oregon, 1976, 1978), I have taught at the University of Memphis, where I held the Bornblum Chair in Judaic Studies, as well as at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oregon. I served as the visiting Sutton Chair in the Humanities at the University of Oklahoma and as a guest professor at Pepperdine University.

Recent Courses:  View courses taught by David Patterson

Work Samples and Publications: 

The Holocaust and the Non-representable: Literary and Photographic Transcendence (Albany: SUNY Press, forthcoming)

Anti-Semitism and Its Metaphysical Origins (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Genocide in Jewish Thought (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Emil L. Fackenheim: A Jewish Philosopher’s Response to the Holocaust (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008)

(co-authored with Alan L. Berger), Jewish-Christian Dialogue: Drawing Honey from the Rock (St. Paul: Paragon House, 2008)

Open Wounds: The Crisis of Jewish Thought in the Aftermath of Auschwitz (Seattle: Univ of Washington Press, 2006)

Wrestling with the Angel: Toward a Jewish Understanding of the Nazi Assault on the Name (St. Paul: Paragon House, 2006)

Hebrew Language and Jewish Thought (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005)

Along the Edge of Annihilation: The Collapse and Recovery of Life in the Holocaust Diary (Seattle: Univ of Washington Press, 1999)

Sun Turned to Darkness: Memory and Recovery in the Holocaust Memoir (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ Press, 1998)

When Learned Men Murder: Essays on the Essence of Higher Education (Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa, 1996)


B.A. in Philosophy, University of Oregon (1972)
M.A. in Comparative Literature, University of Oregon (1976)
Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of Oregon (1978)

Curriculum Vitae:  David Patterson's CV