The early modern period—spanning roughly from the late fifteenth through the late eighteenth centuries—is distinguished by several remarkable developments that are often associated with the modern world: it was an age of scientific discoveries, of the unprecedented dissemination of ideas through the newly-invented printing press, of the emergence of new national political structures, and of the breakdown of traditional sources of authority. Jews and Christians alike were transformed by these dramatic changes. Jews traveled and migrated more frequently and farther than ever before; boldly challenged the authority of their rabbis; used the press to spread Hebrew books, new and old, to ever wider-audiences; and mingled with Christians and others in unforeseen ways. In the 2014 Penn Lectures in Judaic Studies, Moving into Modernity: The Shaping of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe, Katz Center fellows will explore many different aspects of this fascinating period.
Dr. Francesca Bregoli will discuss Jewish life in the important Italian port city of Livorno during the eighteenth century, highlighting the complexity of Jewish life in a city where Jews enjoyed extensive liberties, and where both the Jewish leadership and Christian authorities struggled to maintain a social separation between Jews and non-Jews. The example of the coffeehouse - a place patronized by Jews and non-Jews alike - will illuminate both ideal expectations and the realities of the Jewish experience.
Francesca Bregoli received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of History at Queens College/CUNY, where she also holds the Joseph and Oro Halegua Professorship of Greek and Sephardic Studies. Before joining Queens College, she held a Junior Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford. Her book, Mediterranean Enlightenment: Livornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform, is forthcoming from Stanford University Press (2014).