Elisheva Carlebach, Columbia University

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.

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

Kislak Center Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, 6th Floor