Jewish Women’s Cultural Capital from the Late Middle Ages Through the Early Twentieth Century

September 1, 2016- July 1, 2017
Organizer : Moshe Rosman
Throughout Western history women have been assigned a status as cultural observers and social facilitators to men's roles as cultural performers and social actors. This status however, was not fixed, and cultural-social gender barriers could be crossed. Authority in the family, responsibilities in the public sphere, communal activism, economic productivity, education, ritual religious roles, literary and artistic creativity were all forms of cultural capital which could position women at intersections of power and privilege and challenge gender hierarchies. Recent decades have witnessed a revolution in the scholarship of women's history, uncovering trends that complicate accounts of the possibilities for women. However, these investigations into women’s social and cultural roles have been based predominantly on the lives of Christian women, in Europe west of the Oder, and in North America. A primary research objective of our group is to turn to communities that, both geographically and culturally, have not been properly attended to by the existing scholarship. By bringing together a group of scholars who specialize in a range of periods and locations, our research will create a framework for exploring these issues in Jewish history and their implications for other histories of women.
Group Seminars:










Elisheva Baumgarten

State of the Field

Open with previous reservation




Oded Zinger

"She aims to harass him": Jewish Women in Muslim Courts in Medieval Egypt

Open with previous reservation




Ruth Karras

"Women's Cultural Capital and Masculinity":  The Cases of Heloise and Dolce

Open with previous reservation




Paola Tartakoff 

“Both the Men and the Women”: Toward a Fuller History of Medieval JewishChristian Conversion

 Open with previous reservation




Moshe Rosman

Livelihood, Liturgy, Literature, Location, Latitude: Creeping Capital in Early Modern Ashkenaz/Poland"

Open with previous reservation




Renee Levine Melammed

“Conversas’ Cultural Capital in Historical Perspective”

Open with previous reservation




Debra Kaplan


Open with previous reservation




Jonathan Sarna


Open with previous reservation

Dvar Nashim (Closed):
September 22, 2016, 13:30-15:30- Moshe Rosman
November 03, 2016, 13:30-14:00- Claudia Rosenzweig
December 1, 2016, 13:30-14:00- TBA
December 15, 2016, 13:30-14:00- TBA
December 29, 2016, 13:30-14:00- TBA
Organizational Meeting (Closed):
July 20, 2016, 10:00-11:00
September 8, 2016, 11:30-12:30
September 18, 2016, 11:30-12:30
December 1, 2016, 14:00-15:00
Method/Theory Reading Group (Closed):
September 19, 2016, 13:30-15:30- Shira Wolosky
November 03, 2016, 14:00-15:30- Ruth Karras 
December 15, 2016, 14:00-15:30- Oded Zinger

Conference: June 12-14, 2017



Participating Scholars:


Moshe Rosman (Organizer), Bar-Ilan University

Elisheva Baumgarten, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Ruth M. Karras, University of Minnesota

Claudia Rosenzweig, Bar-Ilan University

Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University

Paola Tartakoff, Rutgers University

Shira Wolosky, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Oded Zinger, Duke University


Long-Term Visiting Scholars:


Efrat E. Aviv, Bar-Ilan University

Eve Krakowski, Princeton University

Frances Malino, Wellesley College

Renee Levine Melammed, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies