Virtual Reading Group

The Virtual Reading Group is a monthly reading group led by Roger Berkowitz, Director of the Hannah Arendt Center.

In Spring 2019, the VRG will be reading selections from Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess.

From the publisher:
Arendt draws a lively and complex portrait of a woman during the period of the Napoleonic wars and the early emancipation of the Jews, a figure who met and corresponded with some of the most celebrated authors, artists, and politicians of her time. She documents Rahel's attempts to earn legitimacy as a writer and gain access to the highest aristocratic circles, to assert for herself a position in German culture in spite of her gender and religion.

Copies of the book may be purchased here.

Participation is free for Hannah Arendt Center Members and Bard students. For non-members, join the Hannah Arendt Center and receive monthly invitations to participate in our Virtual Reading Group. All meetings are recorded and made available to members following each discussion. View the full schedule and more information on the VRG below.

Virtual Reading Group

Our Virtual Reading Group continues with Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess, by Liliane Weissberg; published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Discussions on select Fridays at 1pm (UTC-4) for 60-90 minutes.

Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of  a Jewess

January 18: Preface and Chapter One, Jewess and Schlemihl

February 1: Into the World

February 15:  All Over-How Can One Go On Living?

March 1: Flight Abroad; and Magic, Beauty, Folly

March 15: Answers: the Great Good Fortune; Assimilation

April 5: Day and Night; The Beggar by the Wayside
April 19: Bankruptcy of a Friendship and Civil Improvement

May 3: Between Pariah and Parvenu

May 17: One Does Not Escape Jewishness
Additional Information
Moderator Background
Periodically, the center will distribute a video introduction to the text by Roger Berkowitz, Founder and Director of the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College. Members will be notified within the VRG email when video introductions are available. Berkowitz specializes in teaching and illuminating the ways Arendt's thinking impacts our present world. In addition to hundreds of essays and articles, Berkowitz is author of The Gift of Science, and editor of Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics, The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis, as well as the recently published Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt's Denktagebuch. He is the editor of HA: The Journal of the Hannah Arendt Center.
How the Virtual Reading Group Works

How the Virtual Reading Group Works

Members at all levels may sign up to become part of our monthly Virtual Reading Group. We read one essay or one book at a time and aim to read between 20-50 pages per session. The group moves slowly to allow members to read small bits of text carefully.

  1. Become a Hannah Arendt Center member to join the Virtual Reading Group.
  2. Download the BlueJeans app.
  3. Follow the meeting URL from our weekly email to access the meeting at the scheduled time.

Meetings take place at 1:00 pm UTC-5 on Friday of every other week via the video conferencing platform, BlueJeans. Once you sign up, you'll begin receiving weekly video introductions to the text from our Director, Roger Berkowitz. Following each discussion, the session is saved and recorded, and available to all VRG members. Also, when you become a member and would like to view any of our past sessions, we'll send you links to the recordings! For questions and to enroll in our Virtual Reading Group, please email

Become A Member Please consider joining the Hannah Arendt Center if you haven’t already to take advantage of this exciting opportunity!

Reading History The Virtual Reading Group began with Arendt’s The Human Condition over a 12 month period. We then read and discussed her essay “We Refugees”, along with the entirety of Between Past and Future; "Reflections on Little Rock" from Responsibility and JudgmentCrises of the Republic, and On Revolution. We also completed a 13-week, 10-session series discussing The Origins of Totalitarianism.