Session Title

Jewish Women in Medieval England (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Adrienne Williams Boyarin

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Victoria

Presider Name

Ruth Nisse

Presider Affiliation

Wesleyan Univ.

Paper Title 1

The Social Networks of Anglo-Jewish Women

Presenter 1 Name

Charlotte Newman Goldy

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Miami Univ. of Ohio

Paper Title 2

Jewish Women in Medieval England: Unearthing the Records

Presenter 2 Name

Miriamne Ara Krummel

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Dayton/Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Paper Title 3

Finding Jewish Brides in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century England

Presenter 3 Name

Ethan Zadoff

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Graduate Center, CUNY

Paper Title 4

Side by Side? Jewish and Christian Women and Convivencia in England, ca. 1100-1290

Presenter 4 Name

Pelia Werth

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of Leeds

Paper Title 5

The Anglo-Jewess Represented: On the Polemics of Sameness

Presenter 5 Name

Adrienne Williams Boyarin

Start Date

13-5-2016 10:00 AM

Session Location

Bernhard 210

Description

It is generally accepted that there are few post-biblical Jewish women in medieval Christian art. When they are depicted, their Jewishness is usually unmarked; where they appear in narrative, they are often passive or eventual converts; they lack the anti-Jewish stereotypes so often associated with Jewish males. Sara Lipton has argued that this is partly because “the Jewess’s femaleness trumped her Jewishness” (“Where are the Jewish Women?” in Dark Mirror, 2014). At the same time, Jewish women are ubiquitous in the legal and historical records of twelfth- and thirteenth-century England. As Michael Adler put it in 1934, looking primarily at Jewish Exchequer rolls, the Jewess “occupied a position in the life of the Jewry, both within and without the community, probably unequalled in those days in any country” (“The Jewish Woman in Medieval England”). At the same time again, Jewish Studies scholars have had a hard time imagining medieval Anglo-Jewish women’s intellectual and religious lives with any particularity, since most cultural evidence of Jewish life in medieval England was destroyed, carried away, appropriated, or unpreserved after the 1290 Expulsion (e.g., see Elisheva Baumgarten’s introductory notes on the difficulty of using English sources in both Mothers and Children and Practicing Piety). Influential as she was, the medieval Anglo-Jewish woman survives in a complex, limited, and trauma-stained range of sources that are most often (though not exclusively) Christian. Despite the fine work of Adler, Barrie Dobson, and Suzanne Bartlet (among others), it remains the case that she is often studied from or as absence, and there is little awareness of medieval Anglo-Jewish women among scholars of medieval English history and literature generally. This session seeks not only to interrogate the current state of scholarship, but also to explore how multiple sources and disciplines might be creatively employed to develop new readings of the presence, power, and meaning of the Jewish woman in medieval England.

Adrienne Williams Boyarin

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May 13th, 10:00 AM

Jewish Women in Medieval England (A Roundtable)

Bernhard 210

It is generally accepted that there are few post-biblical Jewish women in medieval Christian art. When they are depicted, their Jewishness is usually unmarked; where they appear in narrative, they are often passive or eventual converts; they lack the anti-Jewish stereotypes so often associated with Jewish males. Sara Lipton has argued that this is partly because “the Jewess’s femaleness trumped her Jewishness” (“Where are the Jewish Women?” in Dark Mirror, 2014). At the same time, Jewish women are ubiquitous in the legal and historical records of twelfth- and thirteenth-century England. As Michael Adler put it in 1934, looking primarily at Jewish Exchequer rolls, the Jewess “occupied a position in the life of the Jewry, both within and without the community, probably unequalled in those days in any country” (“The Jewish Woman in Medieval England”). At the same time again, Jewish Studies scholars have had a hard time imagining medieval Anglo-Jewish women’s intellectual and religious lives with any particularity, since most cultural evidence of Jewish life in medieval England was destroyed, carried away, appropriated, or unpreserved after the 1290 Expulsion (e.g., see Elisheva Baumgarten’s introductory notes on the difficulty of using English sources in both Mothers and Children and Practicing Piety). Influential as she was, the medieval Anglo-Jewish woman survives in a complex, limited, and trauma-stained range of sources that are most often (though not exclusively) Christian. Despite the fine work of Adler, Barrie Dobson, and Suzanne Bartlet (among others), it remains the case that she is often studied from or as absence, and there is little awareness of medieval Anglo-Jewish women among scholars of medieval English history and literature generally. This session seeks not only to interrogate the current state of scholarship, but also to explore how multiple sources and disciplines might be creatively employed to develop new readings of the presence, power, and meaning of the Jewish woman in medieval England.

Adrienne Williams Boyarin