Early modern healing and medicine continued medieval traditions and were simultaneously transformed as a result of radical scientific, religious, and social changes. Early modern scholars, pharmacists, medical doctors, and popular healers advanced significant arguments that drew from and shaped new understandings of human nature and subsequently altered the interactions between healing, religion, and society. Such changes afford a unique opportunity to discuss forms of Jewish interaction with Christian and Muslim societies and developments within Jewish learned and popular culture. They also engage and test the limits of new topics and methodologies employed in early modern studies, enriching the evaluation of common intellectual pools and pursuits, social praxis, and patterns of daily life.

The study of early modern medicine in its relation to the Jewish community broadly conceived brings together intellectual, cultural, religious, and social history and affords a powerful means to assess interaction between different religious and social groups. Given the remarkable historical participation of Jews in medicine—formally and informally—and rich scope of available sources regarding Jewish participation in and attitudes toward healing and medicine, the proposed thematic workshop will expand the exploration of many different early modern themes. A number of useful studies have already examined Jewish engagement with healing and medicine across historical periods and contexts. By bringing together scholars from different fields of early modern study, this workshop will broaden the discussion, while identifying key genres of sources— such as medical and scientific treatises and curricula, halakhah, mystical speculation and practical kabbalah, medical licenses, memoirs, hospital records, court and community records, theological and mystical writings, anti-Jewish imagery, and visual depictions—and issues related to early modern Jewish life. Like previous workshops, which have focused on the presentation, contextualization, and analysis of traditional and newly-found documents, this workshop will significantly develop the pool of sources available for early modernists across scholarly fields.

The Early Modern Workshop was co-sponsored by Northwestern University and the Spertus Institute.


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Tuesday, August 19th
12:00 AM

EMW 2014: Healing, Medicine, and Jews in the Early Modern World

Northwestern University, Evanston and Spertus Institute, Chicago

Northwestern University, Evanston and Spertus Institute, Chicago

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM