The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
Section Menu

Ralph Melnick

Senior Lecturer in Judaic Studies

Melnick headshot

(413) 545-5849

735 Herter Hall

Dr. Melnick specializes in the post-Medieval Jewish experience with particular interest in European and American Jewry, the Jewish-Christian relationship, Jewish intellectual and cultural history of all periods, as well as African-American history and the Jewish/African-American social and cultural encounter. He received his Ph.D. at Columbia University (1977).


  • The Wendell Mitchel Levi Library and Archives (College of Charleston, 1979
  • From Polemics to Apologetics:Jewish-Christian Rapprochment in 17th Century Amsterdam (Van Gorcum,1981)
  • Black Charleston in Slavery and Freedom (College of Charleston, 1981)
  • The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank: Lillian Hellman, Meyer Levin, and the Staging of the Diary  (Yale University, 1997)
  • “A Touch of Wildness”: The Life and Work of Ludwig Lewisohn, Vol. I (Wayne State University, 1998)
  • “The Dark and Desperate Age”: The Life and Work of Ludwig Lewisohn, Vol. II (Wayne State University, 1998)
  • Justice Betrayed: A Double Killing in Old Santa Fe (University of New Mexico, 2002)
  • Senda Berenson: The Unlikely Founder of Women’s Basketball (University of Massachusetts, 2007)
  • Co-author, Guide for America-Holy Land Studies (Vol. I , Arno, 1980; Vol. II, Praeger, 1982; Vol. III, Praeger, 1984) and of Science at the College of Charleston (College of Charleston, 1984)
  • “Oedipus in Charleston: Ludwig Lewisohn’s Search for the Muse” (Studies in American Jewish Literature, Vol. II (State University of New York, 1983)
  • “Ludwig Lewisohn: The Early Charleston Years” (Studies in the American Jewish Experience, Vol. II (American Jewish Archives, 1984)
  • Some 200 entries in Jewish studies, history, religion, and geography for the Columbia Encyclopedia (4th ed., Columbia University, 1984), “Ludwig Lewisohn” in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. IV (Gale, 1984), “Judaism” in the Encyclopedia of Religion in the South (Mercer University, 1984; revised 2nd ed., 2005), and “Ludwig Lewisohn,” “Meyer Levin,” and “Senda Berenson” in the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History (ABC-CLIO), 2007.

His published articles have appeared in the following journals:  American Jewish Archives, Athenaeum Columns, Civil War History, Factotum, Georgia Archive, Journal of Religion, Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Graeco-Roman Period, Library Journal, Library Scene, and South Carolina Historical Magazine.

Awards and Accolades

Major honors have included being named New York University Honors Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, Columbia University Dean Carmen Fellow, and recipient of the College of Charleston Distinguished Faculty Research Award and of The Williston Northampton School Faculty Honor Grant. Fellowships and grants have been awarded from the following institutions: American Antiquarian Society, American Jewish Archives, American Philosophical Society, College of Charleston, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Endowment for the Humanities (including among the four a year’s Fellowship), South Carolina Committee for the Humanities, Southern Jewish Historical Society, Southern Regional Education Board, University of Massachusetts, and The Williston Northampton School.

Courses Recently Taught

The Jewish People I and II

Anti-Semitism in Historical Perspective

Jews and the Challenges of Modernity

Anne Frank, Etty Hillesum, and the Holocaust in Holland