SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Writing Plague: Jewish Accounts of the Great Italian Plague (1630-31)

Prof. Susan L. Einbinder, University of Connecticut

Date: 24 February 2021Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 24 February 2021Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar

Lecture summary: Historians have long noted the abundance of literary responses to the Great Italian Plague of 1630-31, but little attention has been paid to Jewish sources. Nonetheless, Hebrew narrative, poetic, homiletical, and liturgical testimony exists and is important.  These texts document efforts – administrative, medical, spiritual, practical – to meet the challenge of a pandemic. But pandemic also created a textual challenge, exposing conventions of self-representation under extraordinary stress.  This talk examines several examples, asking how their authors met the challenge of “writing plague,” and how those challenges echo in our writing, too.   

Susan L. Einbinder is Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut. Among her publications are After the Black Death: Commemoration and Plague among Iberian Jews (Philadelpha: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and “Prayer and Plague: Jewish Plague Liturgy from Medieval and Early Modern Italy” in: Death and Disease, ed. Lori Jones and Nükhet Varlik (York Medieval Press; forthcoming). She is currently working on a book entitled, Writing Plague: Jewish Responses to the Great Italian Plague (1630-31).

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