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Mini-Conference on Jews and Jewishness in Britain at CU-Boulder

In the year 1290, King Edward I expelled all Jews from England, and in 1657, Oliver Cromwell let them back in. What impact did Jews have on British politics, culture, and religion in the years that followed? Please join the Program in Jewish Studies, the Center for British and Irish Studies, and cosponsors for a mini-conference, Jews and Jewishness in Britain, to discuss these and other issues. 

The conference will take place Friday, February 12 at 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm in the British Studies Room, fifth floor Norlin Library on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are appreciated and can be made via email to CUJewishStudies@colorado.edu.

Speakers and Talks:

  • Jason Rosenblatt, Emeritus Professor of English at Georgetown University and Honored Scholar of the Milton Society of America, will explore how English Jewish jurist John Selden, acknowledged by his contemporaries and by posterity to be the most learned person of seventeenth century England, influenced John Milton, the greatest English poet (excluding Shakespeare) of that century. Rosenblatt will show that although the quality of Selden’s own learned poetry in Greek, Latin, and English ranges “from poor to execrable,” nevertheless, examples of “synthesizing imagination” in Selden’s study of the rabbinic Noachide laws, De Jure Naturali et Gentium, may have influenced the form of Milton’s work even more than its content. Selden’s chronological survey of great authorities to illustrate a single point and his gift for analogy would have accorded with Milton’s monist aesthetic evident in both his poetry and polemical writings.
  • Todd Endelman, Professor Emeritus of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, will discuss John King (born Jacob Rey and widely known as “Jew” King). King was a notorious money-lender, social climber, womanizer, and political radical in late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century London, and his extraordinary and checkered career points to both the elasticity and the rigidity of English social attitudes and structures at the time. Endelman will argue that understanding King’s career is as critical to explaining the entry of Jews into European society as understanding the career of Moses Mendelssohn or any of the other proponents of Jewish Enlightenment.
  • Jonathan Freedman, Marvin Felheim Collegiate Professor of English, American Studies, and Jewish Studies at the University of Michigan, will present on renowned Irish playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde, whose experience intersected with Jews from adolescence until, quite literally, his deathbed. In this talk, Freedman will describe three such interactions: with male Jewish writers and artists; with gay Jewish men before homosexual identities were formulated as such; and with Jewish women writers. Possibilities of affiliation mixed with rivalry and disdain with respect to the first two of these, concord, support, and creative identification with respect to the last. Freedman will trace these patterns in part as a way of better defining Wilde’s life and career, and in part to outline the complicated ways that assimilating Jewish writers and artists entered the complex cultural field in the 1890s and early years of the twentieth century.

Jews and Jewishness in Britain is presented by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for British and Irish Studies and the Program in Jewish Studies and is cosponsored by the Departments of English, History, and Religious Studies. For more information about this event, please visit Colorado.edu/JewishStudies or call 303.492.7143.

The Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder provides an outstanding liberal arts education, fosters critical thought and instills an appreciation of humanity’s interrelatedness and diversity by studying one of the world’s oldest global people. With internationally acclaimed faculty engaged in cutting-edge research and opportunities for students to study with leaders working in the field of Jewish Studies, the program offers an innovative curriculum designed to provide a strong foundation in cultural education and connect Jewish thought and text to action and people’s lives.  The Program in Jewish Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies as well as minors in Jewish Studies and Hebrew/Israel Studies. For more information visit Colorado.edu/JewishStudies.

About Meghan Perea

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