The Israel Humanities and Social Sciences Fund Conference on “Imagining the Renaissance / Defining the Jews”

Yaakov Mascetti's picture
September 1, 2019 to September 22, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Jewish History / Studies, Italian History / Studies, World History / Studies, Economic History / Studies

Call for Papers

The Humanities and Social Sciences Fund Conference on

“Imagining the Renaissance / Defining the Jews”


Jerusalem, January 12-15 2020

The National Library of Israel  


“Ours is a global frame,” as Natalie Zemon Davis has written. Nowadays, “more continents, peoples, ideas, and religions count than perhaps ever before.” Within this global frame, historians are trying to deal with difference in narratives of boundaries that remain fuzzy and porous. Our conference seeks to contribute to this discussion on the “forms of cultural mixture, metissage, and exchange” as it was expressed within the context of Renaissance Italy.


We invite proposals for papers which will address the blurred borders between the discourses of hegemonic groups and those of minorities, and where the narratives of sharp opposition between Jews, Christians and Muslims are challenged and shown to be “fuzzy and porous” rather than simply enforced, legislated and consolidated by social limitations. Scholars are therefore invited to propose topics that will help us show how traditionally accepted concepts such as Jewishness, ghettoes, conversions, and religious identity, were never as solid and unchanging as claimed by historians of the Renaissance, who looked to canonize oppositional definitions by writing “about belief systems that claim one or another kind of group superiority.” We seek to foreground the increasing complexity in the definition of the “I” and the “other” in the period. As the named “other” responded and reacted to the majority in entangled moments and loci of cultural self-realization, there was also a process of mutual (self-)fashioning. It is the goal of our conference to explore that process within an interdisciplinary discussion focused on Renaissance Italian Jewry and against the background of Mediterranean cultural mobility and of broader global dynamics and interactions.


This three-day long conference will be structured into three complementary topics:


  1. Defining the Jews
  2. Translations and Traditions: Early-Modern Mobilities
  3. Cultural Mobility of the Jews in the Renaissance.


Please send a proposal no longer than 250 words to Dr Yaakov A. Mascetti ( or Dr Federico Zuliani ( no later than September 1st 2019. Proposal will be reviewed by the scientific committee and responses will be sent out on September 22nd 2019.

Contact Info: 

Yaakov Mascetti - Bar Ilan University