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  • Lecture

The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies & the Herbert D. Katz Center Distinguished Fellowship in Jewish Manuscript Studies Lecture

The Naked and the Hairy: Material Memory and Jewish Record-keeping in Early Modern Europe

Elisheva Carlebach, Columbia University

 

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Tuesday, October 24, 2023, 5:15 - 7:00 pm EDT
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Class of 1978 Pavilion, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, sixth floor & Virtual
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Open to the Public

Hosted by: Kislak Center

Title page of Avraham Friemann's Pinkas Bisschheim, showing possible ownership inscription, Frydman, written in ballpoint pen on the title page. Possibly also a later transcription of the scribe's name on this page

Maidservants did it, midwives too, rabbis and merchants, cooks and laundresses—everyone, it seems, was keeping written records in the age of expanding literacy, access to texts, and proliferation of bureaucracy. This lecture will situate the record-keeping culture of the Jews of early modern Europe, with particular emphasis on communal records, within its larger European civic scribal context. A response in part to Randolph Head’s call to explore archives more broadly, we examine a body of writing that scholars seldom viewed alongside its European parallels. Politically, early modern Jews walked a fine line between their roles as minority subjects and the need to impose internal discipline. Together we will explore how material aspects of Jewish records illuminate the complexities of the lives they represent.

The lecture is sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Attendees are invited to a reception following the lecture.

The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies & the Herbert D. Katz Center Distinguished Fellowship in Jewish Manuscript Studies is funded in part by the David B. Ruderman Distinguished Visiting Scholar Fellowship.

Image: Title page of the Avraham Friemann's Pinkus Bischeim, recording circumcisions he performed in 1798 (CAJS Rare MS 493, from the Moldovan Family Judaica Collection, Penn Libraries.