Professor Marc Saperstein
A study of Jewish historical experience during the transition from the Middle Ages to the early modern period (ending ca. 1650, before the outbreak of the Sabbatian movement). Following the reversals of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the course will examine the dynamics of Jewish life in Portugal, Italy, Reformation Germany, Prague and Poland, Amsterdam and England. Emphasis will be on new trends in historiography (studies written in the past generation, and especially in the past decade, by American and Israeli scholars).
Basic Texts, recommended for purchase:
David Nierenberg, Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages (Princeton University Press, 1996; pb $19.95 on Amazon).
*R. Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial (Yale University Press, 1992; pb $16 on Amazon).
Leon Modena, The Autobiography of a Seventeenth-Century Venetian Rabbi, ed. Mark R. Cohen (Princeton, 1988; pb $23 on Amazon).
*Bodian, Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation (Indiana U Press, 1997; pb: $13.96 on Amazon)
1. January 23 - Introductory Meeting: Why Did It Get Worse for the Jews?
2. January 30 - "Normal" Life in the Late Middle Ages
Joseph Shatzmiller, Shylock Reconsidered (University of California Press, 1990), pp. 1-42, 71126
Yom Tov Assis, "Sexual Behavior in mediaeval Hispano-Jewish Society," in Jewish History: Essays in Honour of Chimen Abramsky (London, 1988), pp. 2560.
Ariel Toaff, Love, Work and Death: Jewish Life in Medieval Umbria (Littman Library, 1996), pp. 195253.
3. February 6 - Fourteenth-Century Reversals, Black Death
Nirenberg, 3-124, 231-49
Malcolm Barber, "Lepers, Jews, and Moslems: The Plot to Overthrow Christendom in 1321," History 66 (1981): 117.
Philip Ziegler, The Black Death (Penguin Books, 1982), pp. 85111.
4. February 13 - Spain: 1391 Pogroms, Conversos
Philippe Wolff, "The 1391 Pogrom in Spain: Social Crisis or Not?" Past and Present 50 (1971): 418.
Ram ben Shalom, "Vikkuah Tortosa, Vicente Ferrer, u-Baayat ha-Anusim al Pi Eduto shel Yitzhak Natan," Zion 66 (1991): 2445.
B. Netanyahu, The Marranos of Spain (AAJR, 1966), pp. 176.
Renee Levine Melammed, Heretics or Daughters of Israel? The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile (Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 330.
5. February 20 Spain: Inquisition, Expulsion
B. Netanyahu, The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain (New York: Random House, 1995), pp. 9251004.
Haim Beinart, Conversos on Trial: The Inquisition in Ciudad Real (Magnes Press, 1981), pp. 147.
Stephen Haliczer, "The Castilian Urban Patriciate and the Jewish Expulsions of 148092," American Historical Review 78 (1973): 3558.
Haim Beinart, "The Expulsion from Spain: Causes and Results," in The Sephardi Legacy, ed. Beinart (Magnes Press, 1992), pp. 1141; text of the edict pp. 28-31.
6. February 27 - Portugal
Isaiah Tishby, Meshihiyut be-Dor Gerushei Sefarad u-Fortugal (Merkaz Zalman Shazar, 1985), pp. 1136.
Avraham Gross, Iberian Jewry from Twilight to Dawn: The World of Rabbi Abraham Saba (Brill, 1995), pp. 539.
Yosef Yerushalmi, The Lisbon Massacre of 1506 and the Royal Image in Shevet Yehudah (Cincinnati: HUC Press, 1976).
7. March 6 Italy: Session 1: Intolerance
*R. Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial (New Haven: Yale, 1992).
Franco Mormando, The Preachers Demons: Bernardino of Siena and the Social Underworld of Early Renaissance Italy, pp. 164218.
Benjamin Ravid, "Between the Myth of Venice and the Lachrymose Conception of Jewish History: The Case of the Jews of Venice," in The Jews of Italy: Memory and Identity, ed. by Barbara Garvin and Bernard Cooperman (University of Maryland Press, 2000), pp. 15192.
8. March 13 Italy: Session 2: Cultural Life
Bonfil, Jewish Life in Renaissance Italy (University of California Press, 1994), pp. ixxiii, 115, 10124.
*Leon Modena, The Autobiography of a Seventeenth-Century Venetian Rabbi, ed. Mark R. Cohen (Princeton, 1988; pb $23 on Amazon).
Anthony Grafton, "The Historian as Hero," The New Republic, October 8, 2001, pp. 3843 (review of Azariah de Rossis The Light of the Eyes (Meor Einayim), translated and annotated by Joanna Weinberg).
9. March 20 - Germany and the Reformation
Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies,
Heiko Oberman, The Roots of Anti-Semitism In the Age of Renaissance and Reformation (Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 93124.
Elisheva Carlebach, Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 15001750 (Yale University Press, 2001), pp. 4776.
March 26 April 4: Pesach Recess
10. April 10 - Prague and Poland: Cultural Life
Jacob Elbaum, Petihut ve-Histagrut (Magnes Press, 1990), pp. 764.
André Neher, Jewish Thought and the Scientific Revolution of the Sixteenth Century: David Gans (15411613) and His Times (Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 511, 2750, 21660.
Byron Sherwin, Mystical Theology and Social Dissent (Littman Library, 1982), pp. 16184.
April 17 Yom ha-Atzmaut: No Classes
11. April 24 - Poland: Economic Life, Persecution
Hillel Levine, Economic Origins of Antisemitism, chap. 2, pp. 5774.
Edward Fram, Ideals Face Reality: Jewish Law and Life in Poland, 15501655, pp. 67128.
Joel Raba, Between Remembrance and Denial (Columbia University Press, 1955), pp. 37120.
12. May 1 Amsterdam: Creation of a New Community
*Bodian, Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation (Bloomington: Indiana U Press, 1997; pb: $13.96 on Amazon), pp. 1110.
Yosef Kaplan, "Wayward New Christians and Stubborn New Jews: The Shaping of a Jewish Identity," Jewish History 8 (1994): 27-41.
13. May 8 Amsterdam: Tensions and "Heresy"
Bodian, Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation, pp. 110-61.
Yosef Kaplan, "The Social Functions of the Herem in the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam in the Seventeenth Century," Dutch Jewish History 1 (1984): 11155.
Saperstein, Jewish Preaching 12001800 (Yale University Press, 1985), pp. 27085
Saperstein, "The Rhetoric and Substance of Rebuke: Social and Religious Criticism in the Sermons of Hakham Saul Levi Morteira," Studia Rosenthaliana 34 (2000): 13152.
14. May 15 - England
David Katz, "Shivat ha-Yehudim le-Angliyah u-Visus Qehillatam," in Gerush ve-Shivah (Merkaz Zalman Shazar, 1993), pp. 10522.
Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 16031655 (Oxford University Press, 1982), 18, 190244.
James Shapiro, Shakespeare and the Jews, 5566, 18993.
15. May 22 Final Examination
Requirements for the Course:
Each student is to submit two pieces of written work and take the final examination.
1. Due in class no later than March 20 (it will not be accepted after this): an analysis of motifs in Martin Luthers "On the Jews and Their Lies." The purpose of this exercise is not to dismiss what Luther wrote as ridiculous, or to "refute" his arguments, but to determine reflect on what there is in traditional Jewish life and thought (including liturgy, messianic doctrine, and Jewish historical experience) that might have served as the basis for the Luthers diatribes. Students are not to base this on secondary works, but on their own critical reading of the text. Up to 10 pages, double-spaced. (20%)
2. Due in class no later than May 15 (the last meeting before the final exam): a final paper on a subject of the students choosing, in consultation with the instructor. This may be based either on primary sources, or on a critical review of an issue of debate in the scholarly literature. At least some Hebrew sources must be used for this paper. 15-20 pages, double-spaced. (35%).
3. Final Examination, May 22. All students must take this. It will cover all the material of the course. (35%).
4. Attendance, preparation, participation. (10%)