Sunday, November 13, 2011

Medieval Anti-Judaism in the Crucible of Modern Thought

the following colloquium, to be held at the University of Pittsburgh in April 2012, may be of great interest to some of you [I should add, too, that Nina Caputo and Hannah Johnson are co-editing a special issue of "postmedieval" on this topic, to be published in 2014]: The Holocaust and the Middle Ages: Medieval Anti-Judaism in the Crucible of Modern Thought >From medieval pogroms to modern racial science, Jewish history in Europe has come to stand as a test case for thinking about problems of historical continuity and change, embodied most clearly in the tension between narratives emphasizing a timeless antisemitism and arguments for the distinctive mentalities associated with discrete historical periods. Our colloquium, “The Holocaust and the Middle Ages,” seeks to reexamine Jewish history as a multi-layered problem of narrative and conceptualization, in which deeply interested anti-Jewish narratives from the premodern world form points of explosive contact with modern literary and historical modes of analysis. Part of our work is to examine how later historical lenses, such as the interests of post-Reformation history and the consuming project of Holocaust history, have substantially dictated the terms of modern understanding of Jewish-Christian relations, often with distorting effects. At the same time, medieval paradigms of religious conflict continue to operate as the unacknowledged foundations for contemporary efforts to think about problems of political conflict rooted in religious difference. Our objective is to bring together a small group of scholars and encourage significant interdisciplinary dialogue between medievalists and specialists in later fields, including particularly Reformation history and Holocaust studies. In doing so, we hope to move beyond generalities about the evolution of Western patterns of religious conflict to gain critical purchase on the ways in which our narratives for thinking about these problems are deeply imbricated in the assumptions, needs, and theories at work within discrete moments of historical thought. We invite proposals from specialists across the disciplines to participate in a small gathering of scholars at the University of Pittsburgh on April 22, 2012. Abstracts of not more than 500 words should be sent to the co-organizers, Hannah Johnson and Nina Caputo, at no later than December 12, 2011. Participants will be contacted via email by mid-January.

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