The first day of the conference—September 18, 2016—is open to the public.
You can purchase tickets by clicking here.
Students, scholars, and teachers interested in attending may email email@example.com.
On March 29, 1516, the Venetian Republic ordered that the Jews of Venice be restricted to a small island on the northern edge of the city known as the Ghetto Nuovo (the New Ghetto). Christian inhabitants of this area were compelled to vacate their homes, all outward-facing doors and windows on the island were bricked over, and gates were erected in two places, to be locked at sunset. Over the next two centuries, many Italian cities followed the Venetian example by confining their Jewish populations in mandatory, often walled-off enclaves and by labeling such enclosures ghettos. Eventually, “ghetto” came to serve as the ultimate symbol of how Jews were historically “a people apart,” with medieval and premodern Jewish history often described as the “age of the ghetto” and modernity for Jews depicted as a road “out of the ghetto,” as a consequence of both political emancipation and social mobility.
The past three decades have seen a sharp turn in historical scholarship on the institution of the ghetto. The thrust of the newest scholarship on the ghetto has been to portray the ghetto as a more ambivalent and paradoxical space—a space of legally imposed separation and concentration, to be sure, yet also of comings and goings and cross-cultural encounters; a space that united Jews of different backgrounds and at the same time frequently magnified their differences; a space that divided while also mediating between Jews and Christians, even as it also mediated between the medieval and the modern; a space in which, unexpectedly, Jewish culture and religion flourished. Far from simply representing the culmination and formalization of medieval segregation, the ghetto worked, by effect if not intent, to embed Jews within the fabric of the city by providing them with a place of their own, however circumscribed and stigmatized—“a halfway house between acceptance and expulsion,” in the words of one scholar. From a quasi-prison for Jews, the ghetto has come to figure in the latest historiography as a place of real, yet permeable and even protean boundaries.
While the ghetto as an institution and idea was pivotal to the experience of early modern Italian Jewry, it was not all-embracing. Recent scholarship has called attention not only to the complexity and ambiguity of the ghetto, but to the limits, in many cases, of its centrality and explanatory power. In fact, the age of the Medici was as much an age of mobility for Jews as it was an age of ghettos. Despite their residential segregation, Jews participated in and traveled along networks of people, goods, and ideas that transcended the ghetto. Many, moreover, took on roles as intermediaries (as agents, traders, diplomats, spies, etc.) in the early modern Mediterranean. How mobility interacted with, and sometimes qualified the experience of ghettoization is a major theme of current research, and one that will be addressed at the conference The Ghetto and Beyond: The Jews in the Age of the Medici.
The conference is convened by Daniel B. Schwartz (George Washington University) and Francesca Bregoli (Queens College of the City University of New York).
Joel J. Levy, President and CEO, Center for Jewish History
George T. Frampton, Jr., Board Chair, The Medici Archive Project
Francesca Bregoli, Associate Professor of History, Queens College, CUNY
Keynote Address: The Venetian Ghetto and the Formation of Early Modern Jewish Culture
David Ruderman, University of Pennsylvania
The Ghetto as Concept and Metaphor
The talks here will address the semantic and rhetorical history of the term ghetto, considering problems of definition (“what is a ghetto?”) and application. The panel will interrogate the concept of ghetto in a context that will reach into modernity and include other minorities.
Benjamin Ravid, Brandeis University
Daniel B. Schwartz, George Washington University
Mitchell Duneier, Princeton University
Chair: Magda Teter, Fordham University
Piergabriele Mancuso, Director, The Eugene Grant Jewish Studies Program at the Medici Archive Project
Two simultaneous panels
Keynote Address: When You Leave the Ghetto, Exactly What Are You Leaving?
Kenneth Stow, University of Haifa
People in Motion
These talks will explore various dimensions of the mobility of early modern Italian Jews, including trans-national and trans-regional Jewish networks and contacts that transcended the ghetto, and the role Jews played as intermediaries (agents, brokers, spies) in business, finance, and diplomacy. The panel will highlight the ongoing mobility of Jews in spite of ghettoization.
Eric Dursteler, Brigham Young University
Daniel Hershenzon, University of Connecticut
Flora Cassen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chair: Francesca Bregoli, Queens College, CUNY
Ideas and Goods in Motion
This session will examine the role of Jews in the circulation of intellectual innovations as well as material commodities, and will include cutting-edge research on the Jewish book and rabbinic networks. Papers will stress the vibrant webs of relations, within and beyond the ghetto that Italian Jews relied on to distribute knowledge and objects.
Adam Shear, University of Pittsburgh
Debra Glasberg Gail, Columbia University
Micol Ferrara, University of Rome Tor Vergata
Chair: Joshua Teplitsky, Stony Brook University
Workshop on New Archival Sources
Piergabriele Mancuso, Director, The Eugene Grant Jewish Studies Program at the Medici Archive Project
Part One: The Medici Dukes and The Jews: Florentine Grand Ducal Sources and Their Role in the Study of Early-Modern Italian and European Jewry
Part Two: Introduction to the Florentine Ghetto Mapping Project
Francesca Bregoli is the Joseph and Oro Halegua chair in Greek and Sephardic Jewish Studies and an Associate Professor in the History Department at Queens College, CUNY, and the Acting Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (2007). Her research concentrates on eighteenth-century Italian and Sephardic Jewish history. She is the author of "Mediterranean Enlightenment: Livornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform" (Stanford University Press, 2014; finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in two categories). Her current project looks at the creation and preservation of affective ties in transnational Jewish merchant families.
Donatella Calabi is Chair and Professor of Urban History at the University IUAV of Venice. She has been a visiting professor in several countries and gave lectures at Duke, Harvard and MIT. She studied and published on European town planning in the 19th and 20th centuries. She also published on the European city, the market spaces and buildings, the foreigners, their settlements and cultural exchanges of the early modern times. She recently received the Koos Bosma Prize (Delft 2016). Her most recent publication is Le ghetto de Venise: 500 ans, Paris 2016, Turin 2016. She is now Director of a Scientific Committee for the V Centenary of the Ghetto and curator of the exhibition at the Ducal Palace, Venice, the Jews and Europe.
Elisheva Carlebach, Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture, and Society at Columbia University, specializes in the cultural, intellectual, and religious history of the Jews in Early Modern Europe. Areas of particular interest include the intersection of Jewish and Christian culture and its effect on notions of tolerance, religious dissent, conversion, messianism, and communal governance. Her books include The Pursuit of Heresy (1990), awarded the National Jewish Book Award, Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Early Modern Germany (2000) and Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe (2011). She served as Editor of the Association for Jewish Studies Review and chaired the Academic Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History.
Flora Cassen is Assistant Professor; JMA and Sonja Van der Horst Fellow in Jewish History and Culture at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received her PhD from NYU in 2008. Her book, Marking the Jews in Renaissance Italy, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press), is a study of discriminatory marks that the Jews were compelled to wear in 15th- and 16th-century Italy, which probes the roots and consequences of anti-Judaism and is being prepared for publication as Identity or Control: The Jewish Badge in Renaissance Italy. A second project studies Italian Jews who were spies for the king of Spain, records of which she discovered in Italian archives and further documented in Spanish archives.
Bernard Cooperman holds the Louis L. Kaplan Chair in Jewish History at the University of Maryland, where he has served as Director of both the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Historical Studies. Dr. Cooperman has written on many aspects of early modern and modern Jewish history, including the papal practice of tolerance towards Iberian Jewish refugees, the economic and cultural life of Jews in Italy, urban and community histories of Jews in Rome, Bologna, and Livorno, the impact of print on Jewish culture, and business competition and sexual scandal among Roman Jewish moneylenders. He is currently finishing a book on the constitutional history of Roman Jews, and is working on a comparative history of the European ghetto.
Mitchell Duneier is a Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. He studies how science and politics come together in urban ethnography. His publications include Voices from the Sidewalk: Ethnography and Writing Race (in conversation with Les Back) Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2006, Vol. 29, 2006; “Sur la négligence théorique et autres écueils de l’ethnographie” Revue française de sociologie, Volume 1, January 2006; and “Talking City Trouble: Interactional Vandalism, Social Inequality, and the "Urban Interaction Problem" American Journal of Sociology (Volume 104, Number 5, March 1999) (co-authored with Harvey Molotsch).
Eric Dursteler joined the History Department of Brigham Young University in 1998, where he is Professor and Chair. He earned his PhD from Brown University in 2000. His research focuses on gender, religious identity and food in the early modern Mediterranean. He has received research fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, the American Philosophical Society, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Folger Shakespeare and Huntington libraries. His most recent book, The Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean World, co-authored with Monique O’Connell, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in spring 2016.
Micol Ferrara who earned a PhD in Culture and Territory, was a researcher in the Department of History of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Rome Tor Vergata. She is a lecturer on Jewish History in the Modern Age at the B.A. program in Jewish Studies UCEI . She is part of the editorial staff of the Journal of History and a member of the Italian Association of Urban History (AISU), the Italian Society of Historians of Economy (SISE), of Mediterranean Studies Association (MSA) and the Italian Society of Historical Demography (SIDeS). She has taken part in seminars and national and international conferences, speaking on the history of Roman Jews and has published several essays on the theme.
Sharon Flatto is a Professor of Judaic Studies and the Director of the Judaic Studies Graduate Program at Brooklyn College. She is the author of The Kabbalistic Culture of Eighteenth-Century Prague: Ezekiel Landau (the 'Noda Biyehudah') and His Contemporaries (Littman Press, 2010) and various scholarly articles. Flatto has taught at a broad range of educational institutions, including Yale University, Queens College and Brown University, and at numerous adult education programs. She has received multiple awards, such as the Whiting Foundation Fellowship for outstanding teaching in the humanities, and grants from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Memorial Foundation, and the DAAD.
Debra Glasberg Gail completed her Ph.D. in Jewish History at Columbia University in 2016 and is currently Gruss Scholar-in-Residence at NYU School of Law. Debra’s research interests include the cultural history of Jewish legal texts, the material history of the book, and the history of science. Her dissertation combined these interests through a close study of the life and work of Italian rabbi and physician Isaac Lampronti (1679-1756). Lampronti produced both the first alphabetically organized encyclopedia (the Pahad Yitzhak) and the first periodical (the Bikurei Kazir) of halakhah (Jewish law), which refashioned the traditional rabbinic system according to scientific methodologies and emerging Enlightenment ideas. Unwilling to relinquish the authorities of either science or traditional Jewish law, Lampronti creatively mediated the tensions between the two.
Daniel Hershenzon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. He is currently completing a book manuscript titled “Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean: Captivity, Commerce, and Communication.” Hershenzon has published articles in the Past and Present, Journal of Early Modern History, African Economic History, Philological Encounters, and in edited volumes. He focuses on the history of early modern Spain and the Mediterranean, the relations between the Spanish Monarchy and North Africa, slavery and captivity, Jewish, Muslim and Christian cultural intermediaries, conversion, writing and its uses, and Mediterranean material culture. He held fellowships from the SSRC, the Mellon Foundation, the Humanities Institutes at the University of Michigan and at the University Connecticut, and the European University Institute in Florence.
Elliott Horowitz, a native of New York City, studied at Princeton and Yale before moving to Israel in 1982, where he taught Jewish History at Ben-Gurion University and Bar-Ilan. He is co-editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review and author of Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence (Princeton).
Dana Katz PhD (2003) in Art History from the University of Chicago, is Joshua C. Taylor Associate Professor of Art History and Humanities at Reed College. Her research explores representations of religious difference in early modern Italy, with a particular focus on Jewish-Christian relations. She is Discipline Representative of Hebraica for the Renaissance Society of America, and serves on the editorial advisory board of Renaissance Quarterly. A recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Renaissance Society of America, Katz is the author of The Jew in the Art of the Italian Renaissance (2008)and The Jewish Ghetto and the Visual Imagination of Early Modern Venice (forthcoming 2017).
Piergabriele Mancuso is Director of the Eugene Grant Research Program on Jewish History and Culture in Early Modern Europe at the Medici Archive Project. He received his doctoral degree in Jewish Studies from University College London, 2009. His research interests include early medieval southern Italian Judaism, Jewish astronomical and astrological tradition, Hebrew and Latin paleography, Jewish music and ethnomusicology, 17th-19th century Italian Jewry, as well as Venetian and Florentine history. He was a fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies) as a PhD student fellow and at the Warburg Institute, London (Sophie Fellowship Programme). He has taught at Boston University Abroad Programs, University of Kentucky, Lexington, at “Cà Foscari” University, Venice, at Università dell’Insubria, Como.
Benjamin Ravid is Professor Emeritus of Jewish History at Brandeis University, where he taught in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies which he chaired from 1989-1992. He is the author of Economics and Toleration in Seventeenth Century Venice: The Background and Context of the Discorso of Simone Luzzatto (1978), and over 50 articles on various aspects of the Venetian Jewish experience including the ghetto, 9 of which were reprinted in Studies on the Jews of Venice, 1382-1797 (2003). He also co-edited, with Robert C. Davis, The Jews of Early Modern Venice (2001). He was also a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University, served as Associate Editor of the AJS Review and was Hebraica discipline representative at the Council of the Renaissance Society of America. He is currently completing a detailed history of the Jews of the Venetian Republic and co-editing a reader on Venetian Jewry with Howard Adelman and Michela Andreatta.
David Ruderman is presently the Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History and was formally Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania from 1994-2014. Prior to coming to Pennsylvania, he taught at the University of Maryland (1974-83) and at Yale University (1983-94). He is the author of many books and articles including The World of a Renaissance Jew, 1981; Kabbalah, Magic, and Science, 1988 and Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe, 1995, 2001, published also in Italian, Hebrew, and Russian. Three of his books won national book awards in Jewish history. In 2001, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored him with its lifetime achievement award for his work in Jewish history.
Daniel B. Schwartz is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of Judaic Studies at George Washington University. He is the author of The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image (2012), which was a co-winner of the Salo W. Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish Studies and was a National Jewish Book Award finalist in the category of history. He is currently writing a book about the evolving significance of the word "ghetto" in Jewish history and beyond.
Edwin Seroussi is the Emanuel Alexandre Professor of Musicology and Director of the Jewish Music Research Centre at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, he immigrated to Israel in 1971 where he took undergraduate and graduate degrees in Musicology at Hebrew University continuing to his PhD from UCLA in 1987. He has published on North African and Eastern Mediterranean Jewish music, on Judeo-Islamic relations in music and on Israeli popular music.
Adam Shear is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. His fields of study are Medieval and early modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history, history of the Jewish book and the impact of print on Jewish culture and thought in the early modern period, the cultural role of Jewish philosophy in the formation of early modern Jewish identities, Jewish thought and intellectual culture in early modern Italy, the Jewish Enlightenment movement and its relation to the medieval and early modern Jewish past.
Stefanie Siegmund an Associate Professor of History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Her 2006 book, The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence: The Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community, published by Stanford University Press, was awarded the Baxter Prize in European History by the American Historical Association and the Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize in Italian History by the SIHS. Dr. Siegmund now directs the program in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies and the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Studies at JTS. Her current research integrates the study of conversion, gender, and cultural representations of the Jews of the ghetto of Florence.
Kenneth Stow is Professor Emeritus of Jewish History at the University of Haifa, Israel, and has been a visiting professor at Yale, the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, Smith College, the University of Toronto, and the Pontifical Gregorian University. He has twice been a Fellow at the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a Bodini Fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University. He founded the journal Jewish History and served as its Editor for 25 years until 2012. He is the author of, among others: Anna and Tranquillo: Catholic Anxiety and Jewish Protest in the Age of Revolutions (Yale, 2016) and Jewish Dogs, An Image and Its Interpreters: Continuity in the Jewish-Catholic Encounter. (Stanford, 2006).
Joshua Teplitsky is Assistant Professor of History at the State University of NY at Stony Brook. This year he is on leave, and has been awarded a Fall semester Fellowship at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Spring and Summer Fellowship from the Yad Hanadiv/Beracha Foundation Programme of Visiting Fellowships in Jewish Studies in Israel. His work focuses on Jewish life in the German-speaking lands of the Holy Roman Empire and Habsburg monarchy in the early modern period (16th–18th centuries) with an emphasis on the city of Prague. He is interested in the interconnections between Jews of disparate locations, as well as the social, cultural, and intellectual exchanges between Jews and Christians. His current research project explores the movement of Jewish books as commodities and media of exchange in order to examine the operations of credit and reputation in shaping the political culture of Jewish life in early modern Central Europe.
Magda Teter is Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and Professor of History at Fordham University. She received her PhD from Columbia University and specializes in early modern religious and cultural history, with emphasis on Jewish-Christian relations, the politics of religion, and transmission of culture among Jews and Christians across Europe in the early modern period. She is the author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Sinners on Trial (Harvard University Press, 2011), and more.
Lorenzo Vigotti holds a M.Arch. from the University of Florence on the Palazzo Datini in Prato and a M.Phil. from Columbia University, where he is currently working on his PhD dissertation project on the origin of the Renaissance palace (1380-1440). As a trained architect he worked in Florence at an architectural firm, focusing on structural problems and preservation issues in medieval and Renaissance architecture. His interests include cultural exchanges between Europe and Islam during the Renaissance. At MAP, Lorenzo joined Dr. Mancuso’s Program on Jewish History and Culture in Early Modern Europe, and he is in charge of the study and architectural reconstruction of the now lost Florentine Ghetto during the Medici rule.