Tag Archive for teter

Teter’s Talk Opens Symposium on 50th Anniversary of Vatican II Council’s Declaration “Nostra Aetate”

Magda Teter

Magda Teter

In early March, Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, gave the opening talk at a symposium in Poland on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” issued by the Second Vatican Council, which changed the tone and relations between Jews and the Catholic Church.

Teter spoke on “Continuity and Change in ‘Nostra Aetate.'” Teter also is chair and professor of history, professor of medieval studies.

Teter has been involved in Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Poland for the past three years. Her research into post-Reformation Europe led her to meet with a bishop in the southeastern Polish town of Sandomierz, a town long considered a locus of anti-Semitism due to a painting in the city’s cathedral depicting the “blood libel” of Jews murdering Christian children. Teter and the bishop discussed what to do with the 18th century painting, and how to bring the community together around a solution. The result was a 2013 symposium on the issue, partially sponsored by Wesleyan, that brought together scholars and clerics and led to the decision to unveil the painting, add explanatory signage and convene again. Read more in this News @ Wesleyan story.

In addition to Teter’s talk at the meeting this month, Bishop Mieczysław Cisło spoke on Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Poland, and John Connelly, professor of history at the University of California-Berkeley, spoke about the individuals involved in creating a foundation for the declaration, both in the interwar period and after World War II.

History Faculty Participate in American Historical Association Meeting

Screen shot 2015-01-06 at 12.52.34 PMFour faculty from the History Department participated in the American Historical Association Meeting in New York City Jan. 2-5. The topic was “History and Other Disciplines.”

Professor of History Ethan Kleinberg presented “Just the Facts: The Fantasy of a Historical Science.” Kleinberg also is the director of the Center for the Humanities, professor of letters and executive editor of History and Theory.

Assistant Professor of History Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock spoke on “From a Society Free of Religion to Freedom of Conscience: How Toleration Emerged from within Totalitarianism.” She also is assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies and tutor in the College of Social Studies.

Professor of History Magda Teter spoke on roundtable panel on “Jewish History/General History: Rethinking the Divide.” Teter also is the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, professor of medieval studies and chair of the History Department.

Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker was a commentator on a panel titled “The Photographic Event,” which reexamined the question of an “event” by looking at various visual technologies and texts, whether sketches, paintings or films. Tucker also is associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of science in society and a faculty fellow in the College of the Environment.

Teter’s Book Receives Honorable Mention for Jewish Studies Award

A book by Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, received honorable mention for the 2014 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award. The Schnitzer Book Award was established in 2007 to recognize and promote outstanding scholarship in the field of Jewish Studies and to honor scholars whose work embodies the best in the field: innovative research, excellent writing and sophisticated methodology.

Teter’s book, Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in 2011, was honored in the Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History category.

In recognizing her book, the Prize Committee wrote:

“In this beautifully written and richly documented work, Magda Teter traces and convincingly demonstrates the interdependence of economic, religious and political motives that animated Polish anti-Semitism in the early modern period. This book also identifies and elucidates significant factors in the history of their formations in East Central Europe, and in the history of the host-desecration charge in early modern Europe.”

Magda Teter

Magda Teter

In post-Reformation Poland—the largest state in Europe and home to the largest Jewish population in the world—the Catholic Church suffered profound anxiety about its power after the Protestant threat.

In the book, Teter reveals how criminal law became a key tool in the manipulation of the meaning of the sacred and in the effort to legitimize Church authority. The mishandling of sacred symbols was transformed from a sin that could be absolved into a crime that resulted in harsh sentences of mutilation, hanging, decapitation, and, principally, burning at the stake. Recounting dramatic stories of torture, trial, and punishment, this is the first book to consider the sacrilege accusations of the early modern period within the broader context of politics and common crime.

To celebrate the honorable mention, Teter is invited to attend the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Reception Dec. 14 in Maryland.

Teter also is chair and professor of history, professor of medieval studies. She speaks more about the book and her research in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

Symposium in Poland Encourages Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Pictured, from left: Marcin Przeciszewski, director of the Catholic Information Agency; Bishop Mieczysław Cisło, head of the Committee for the Dialogue with Judaism at the Episcopate of the Catholic Church in Poland; Magda Teter; Monica Adamczyk-Garbowska, professor of Jewish literature of the Maria Skłodowska-Curie University in Lublin; Michael Schudrich, chief Rabbi of Poland; Jan Grosfeld, professor of the Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw..

Pictured, from left: Marcin Przeciszewski, director of the Catholic Information Agency; Bishop Mieczysław Cisło, head of the Committee for the Dialogue with Judaism at the Episcopate of the Catholic Church in Poland; Magda Teter; Monica Adamczyk-Garbowska, professor of Jewish literature of the Maria Skłodowska-Curie University in Lublin; Michael Schudrich, chief Rabbi of Poland; Jan Grosfeld, professor of the Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw.

Historians will tell you that the past can often have a direct and profound effect on the present age. 

Take Magda Teter, for example. A scholarly probe into post-Reformation Europe recently led the professor of history and director of Jewish Studies at Wesleyan to an event that may have changed the course of Jewish and Christian relations in Poland.

“This is how scholars can sometimes play a role in getting people to talk to each other,” she said. “It didn’t start that way, but that was the good result.”

Sandomierz, a sleepy Renaissance town in southeast Poland, (now known in Europe as the backdrop for a popular TV show about a crime-solving priest) was for many years considered a locus of anti-Semitism. The reason: a painting in the city’s cathedral church depicting the “blood libel” of Jews murdering Christian children. One of a series commemorating Catholic martyrs, it had been for many years covered up; calls to have it removed met with opposition, but it was the source of intense controversy and a big problem for the local bishop.

In the course of researching a book she is currently writing,  Teter met with the Sandomierz bishop. They discussed what to do with the 18th-century painting, and how to bring the community together around a solution?

The result of that conversation was a 2013 symposium on the issue, partially sponsored by Wesleyan, that brought together scholars and clerics and led to the decision to unveil the painting, add explanatory signage and convene again.

Teter Co-Edits Book on Jewish-Christian Relations in Art

New book, co-edited by Magda Teter.

New book, co-edited by Magda Teter.

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, professor of history, professor of medieval studies, is the co-editor of a book titled, Jewish-Christian Relations in History, Memory, and Art: European contet for the paintings in the Sandomierz Cathedral, published in Polish by Wydawnictwo Diecezjalne, Sandomierz in 2013.

A large painting known as Infanticidium on the western wall of the Cathedral church in Sandomierz, Poland depicting scenes of Jews killing Christian children, has been frequently viewed as an example of Polish anti-Semitism and a troubling symbol of Jewish-Catholic relations. The painting became a site of memory (lieu de mémoire), crystalizing in one object the memory of Jewish-Christian relations in Poland, and a source of protests and tensions between the Catholic church and the Jewish community. The richly illustrated book, edited by Teter and Urszula Stępień, presents the Sandomierz paintings in their broader European and local artistic, historical and historiographic context.

The controversial Sandomierz painting belongs to a broader series of sixteen paintings known as “Martyrologium Romanum.” The first two essays address the question of Jewish-Christian relations. Teter discusses the history of these relations and the role historians have played, and continue to play, in shaping the understanding and perception of these relations. Teter also points to visual influences of European iconography of the so-called “ritual murder” on the Sandomierz paintings, especially the iconography of Simon of Trent.

Teter Delivers Lecture at the Vatican

Magda Teter

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling professor of Jewish studies, professor of history, recently gave a lecture at the Vatican. Delivered Nov. 13, the lecture was titled, “Reti di potere: gli ebrei e l’accesso all a Santa Sede nell’eta modern,” or  “Networks of Power: Jews and their Access to the Holy See in the Early Modern Period.”

Teter’s talk was part of a lecture series organized in collaboration between the University “La Sapienza” in Rome and the Vatican’s Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Archivio della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede), previously called the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

Two Professors Receive Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships

Magda Teter

Magda Teter, Chair of Medieval Studies, Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, professor of history, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and Elizabeth Willis, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, professor of English, have been awarded 2012 fellowships by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

According to the Guggenheim Foundation, the prestigious academic honor is presented to scholars “who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” This year, the 87th annual competition recognized 180 scholars, artists and scientists from across the U.S. and Canada. They were selected from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants, range in age from 27 to 84, and represent 62 disciplines and 74 different academic institutions. Through their fellowship projects, they will travel to all parts of the globe.

Teter also was recently awarded a Harry Frank Guggenheim fellowship. Both fellowships will allow her to take a full year sabbatical and support her travel and research expenses to the Vatican and Poland as she works on a new book, The Pope’s Dilemma: Blood Libel and the Boundaries of Papal Power.

The Pope’s Dilemma takes the familiar story of blood libel against Jews to tell a much broader story of religion and politics in Europe, demonstrating that the persistence of the ‘blood libel’ illuminates the reach, and also the limits, of papal authority in coping with local powers – a topic of significant interest even today, in light of the sex abuse scandals,” Teter says.

According to her biography on the Foundation web site, Teter specializes in early modern religious and cultural history, with an emphasis on Jewish-Christian relations in Eastern Europe, the politics of religion, and the transmission of culture among Jews and Christians across Europe in the early modern period. She is the author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Sinners on Trial (Harvard University Press, 2011), and a co-editor of and contributor to Social and Cultural Boundaries in Pre-modern Poland (Littman, 2010). She has also published numerous articles in English, Polish and Hebrew. Teter serves on the editorial boards of Polin, the Sixteenth Century Journal, and the AJS Review, and is co-founder and editor of the Early Modern Workshop, an open source site with historical texts and videos of scholars discussing them.

Elizabeth Willis

Willis, who specializes in poetry, is the author of Address (Wesleyan University Press, 2011), which won the PEN New England Winship Award for Poetry. Her other books include Meteoric Flowers (Wesleyan University Press, 2006), Turneresque (Burning Deck, 2003), and The Human Abstract (Penguin, 1995), which won the National Poetry Series. Her biography on the Foundation web site notes: “Her most recent projects are investigative in spirit, shifting increasingly toward hybrid genres and explicitly questioning the boundaries of literary representation.” Willis has been awarded fellowships in poetry from the California Arts Council and the Howard Foundation. She has held residencies at Brown University, University of Denver, Naropa University, the MacDowell Colony, and the Centre International de Poésie, Marseille, and was a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Mills College.

With her Guggenheim fellowship, Willis will travel to Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, New York and California to conduct research for a new project. She explains, “I’ll be working on a new project that involves American religious, cultural and political history. It’s a book-length poem, not a history, but along the way it is thinking about theater, film and improvised family structures. I’m interested in what constitutes a sovereign body within America’s evolving concept of itself as a nation. And for me, poetry always brings up interesting questions about representation and voice.”

Willis adds, “I’m thrilled. The fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime honor, and the timing couldn’t be better for me. The work I’m doing now involves a good deal of research and travel, so I’m immensely grateful that I’ll have the chance to focus on it more completely.”

H.F. Guggenheim Supports Teter’s Research on Blood Libel, Papal Power

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, received a 2012-13 Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship.

As a 2012-13 Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellow, Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, will narrate the cultural, social and political connections between Italy—center of papal power, and Poland—home to the largest Jewish community in the world, in her new book, The Pope’s Dilemma: Blood Libel and the Boundaries of Papal Power.

Teter, who also is chair and professor of medieval studies, professor of history, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, will take a full year leave on sabbatical to work on the book. Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation sponsors scholarly research on problems of violence, aggression and dominance. The award will support Teter’s travel and research expenses to the Vatican and Poland.

The Pope’s Dilemma takes the familiar story of blood libel against Jews to tell a much broader story of religion and politics in Europe, demonstrating that the persistence of the ‘blood libel’ illuminates the reach, and also the limits, of papal authority in coping with local powers – a topic of significant interest even today, in light of the sex abuse scandals,” Teter says.

Among the vivid characters in these compelling stories are popes, bishops,

Teter Published in Brotherhood and Boundaries

Brotherhood and Boundaries

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, published an article, “Sacrilege and the Sacred and Profane Spaces: Jews and Christians in Early Modern Poland,” which was published in  Brotherhood and Boundaries: Fraternià e barriere by Edizioni della Normale, pages 215-224 in 2011. Teter also is chair and professor of medieval studies, professor of history, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

This book offers a comparative study of secular and religious brotherhoods and networks of social relationships, analyzing role in the various forms of religious communities, national, cultural and social from the 14th to the 18th century. More information on the book is online here.

Teter’s past publications are online here.

Olin LIbrary, Local Synagogue Celebrate Historical Book Loaning Program

Wesleyan faculty, staff, students and community members celebrated a new partnership between the Adath Israel Synagogue in Middletown and Olin Library on May 11. Rare books from Adath Israel are being loaned to Special Collections & Archives for research by students in Magda Teter's Jewish history classes and others. Teter is the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of medieval studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. Pictured, from left, are Pat Tully, university librarian; Suzy Taraba, university archivist and head of special collections; Suzanne O’Connell, director of the Service Learning Center, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; community member Stephen Shapiro; Magda Teter; Seth Axelrod, president of Adath Israel; and Rabbi Seth Haaz, Rabbi of Adath Israel.

5 Questions With . . . Magda Teter on Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, spent the past few years visiting more than 15 archives in Poland, Rome and the Vatican City to find court records, pamphlets, rabbinic writings and secret correspondence between the papal nuncios and Rome.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of medieval studies. Teter is the author of Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in March 2011.

Q: Professor Teter, you are a scholar of religious and cultural history. What are your research interests, and what courses do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: In my writing I focus on Jewish-Christian relations, particularly in Poland, which was once the one of the largest states in Europe and also home to the largest Jewish community in the world. At Wesleyan I teach a wide range of courses mostly in Jewish history, but I also teach Early Modern European history, covering the period from mid-15th century to the French Revolution, and historiography. Having been trained at Columbia University, my courses always present Jews as actors in larger historical developments. Students taking my classes in Jewish history learn a great deal about general history. Similarly, since Jews were a crucial group in Europe greatly influencing European society, culture, economy, and politics, students taking my European history classes will learn that one cannot fully understand, for example, humanism and the Reformation without taking into account the role Jews played in them. I see both Jewish and non-Jewish history as tightly intertwined with each other. This semester I teach a course on east European Jewish history, with a service-learning component focusing on east European Judaica from the Adath Israel Museum in Middletown.  

Teter Publishes Book on Jews, Sacrilege after the Reformation

Book by Magda Teter.

Magda Teter is the author of Sinners Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in March 2011. Teter is the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of medieval studies.

In post-Reformation Poland—the largest state in Europe and home to the largest Jewish population in the world—the Catholic Church suffered profound anxiety about its power after the Protestant threat.

According to Harvard University Press, Teter reveals how criminal law became a key tool in the manipulation of the meaning of the sacred and in the effort to legitimize Church authority. The mishandling of sacred symbols was transformed from a sin that could be absolved into a crime that resulted in harsh sentences of mutilation, hanging, decapitation, and, principally, burning at the stake.

Teter casts new light on the most infamous type of sacrilege, the accusation against Jews for desecrating the eucharistic wafer. These sacrilege trials were part of a broader struggle over the meaning of the sacred and of sacred space at a time of religious and political uncertainty, with the eucharist at its center. But host desecration—defined in the law as sacrilege—went beyond anti-Jewish hatred to reflect Catholic-Protestant conflict, changing conditions of ecclesiastic authority and jurisdiction, and competition in the economic marketplace.

Recounting dramatic stories of torture, trial, and punishment, this is the first book to consider the sacrilege accusations of the early modern period within the broader context of politics and common crime. Teter draws on previously unexamined trial records to bring out the real-life relationships among Catholics, Jews, and Protestants and challenges the commonly held view that following the Reformation, Poland was a “state without stakes”—uniquely a country without religious persecution.