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The Early Modern Period, an era of “confessionalization,” provides numerous examples of individuals of immediate, distant, feigned, or merely imputed Jewish origin whose religious and social allegiances shifted radically. The phenomenon of Iberian New Christians or conversos comes to mind. Early modern Jews who became Christians but who, unlike conversos, possessed no personal and familial background in Christianity constitute an allied field of research (See examples in the Bibliography, below). Scholarly assessments of the ways in which these Jewish non-conversos learned and influenced their adopted Christian culture(s) often concentrate on intellectual production. The focus is not surprising, as the converts under discussion were usually educated individuals to whom Christian patrons often assigned prominent roles as anti-Jewish polemicists and missionaries. By contrast to the apologetic works and other religious writings of and about such converts, the texts presented here offer glimpses of the experience of uneducated, relatively inarticulate people of very modest material means who found themselves at a crossroads between Jewish (or Jewish-identified) and Hispano-Catholic identities, and whose formal cultural realignment caused no historical ripple. The folios selected for this workshop comprise large excerpts of two inquisitorial cases dating from the early 1790s. Both dossiers are relatively brief and fragmentary. I offer them together in order to provide more analytical possibilities than each of the documents would offer by itself.

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Start Date

27-2-2012 2:00 PM

End Date

27-2-2012 3:00 PM

Location

Brown University, Providence, RI

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Feb 27th, 2:00 PM Feb 27th, 3:00 PM

Cultural Transmission and Assimilation in a Quotidian Key: The Conversion of Two Jews in Spain, 1790- 1792

Brown University, Providence, RI

The Early Modern Period, an era of “confessionalization,” provides numerous examples of individuals of immediate, distant, feigned, or merely imputed Jewish origin whose religious and social allegiances shifted radically. The phenomenon of Iberian New Christians or conversos comes to mind. Early modern Jews who became Christians but who, unlike conversos, possessed no personal and familial background in Christianity constitute an allied field of research (See examples in the Bibliography, below). Scholarly assessments of the ways in which these Jewish non-conversos learned and influenced their adopted Christian culture(s) often concentrate on intellectual production. The focus is not surprising, as the converts under discussion were usually educated individuals to whom Christian patrons often assigned prominent roles as anti-Jewish polemicists and missionaries. By contrast to the apologetic works and other religious writings of and about such converts, the texts presented here offer glimpses of the experience of uneducated, relatively inarticulate people of very modest material means who found themselves at a crossroads between Jewish (or Jewish-identified) and Hispano-Catholic identities, and whose formal cultural realignment caused no historical ripple. The folios selected for this workshop comprise large excerpts of two inquisitorial cases dating from the early 1790s. Both dossiers are relatively brief and fragmentary. I offer them together in order to provide more analytical possibilities than each of the documents would offer by itself.