This seminar will explore late medieval Jewish art from western Europe and beyond. The first part of the seminar will focus on broad historical and historiographic issues in Jewish visual culture; topics will include, inter alia, issues of word and image, problematics of representation, the iconoclastic argument, and anti-Jewish polemic. In the second part of the course we will look at the great variety of later medieval Hebrew books: illuminated Bibles, commentaries, theological treatises, liturgical books, scientific works, etc. Finally, we will conclude by focusing on one type of liturgical book, the Haggadah, and explore its many manifestations in both Sephardic and Ashkenazi contexts. By way of a coda, we will look at late medieval Yiddish books. Several guest speakers—leading authorities on these woefully understudied topics—will Zoom in during the course of the seminar. This is a very challenging class, in which students will be expected to read both primary and secondary sources in order to familiarize themselves with the complex and fraught landscape of studies in medieval Jewish art.
The course is currently scheduled for Thursdays from 11:30-2:00.