Acculturation and its Discontents: The Jews of Italy from Early Modern to Modern Times

Friday, April 4, 2003–Monday, April 7, 2003
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Massimo Ciavolella; University of California, Los Angeles; David N. Myers, University of California, Los Angeles; Peter H. Reill, University of California, Los Angeles; Geoffrey Symcox, University of California, Los Angeles; and Gilberto Pizzamiglio, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice

The conference brings together distinguished scholars from Europe, Israel, and North America to offer new perspectives on the complex process of Jewish interaction with non-Jewish Italian society, as well as to take stock of recent developments in Italian Jewish historiography. Assessing the status of a minority culture such as the Jews of Italy is complicated by a set of competing factors. On the one hand, the evident willingness of Italian Jews to engage in a wide range of typically non-Jewish cultural pursuits; and on the other, the ambivalence of both Jews and Christians in Italy to the very prospect of Jewish social integration.

In an attempt to understand the tension between these two impulses, the conference covers the rich period of Italian Jewish history extending from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Topics to be discussed include the function of the ghetto in the Italian (Jewish) mind, the role of Jews in Italy’s economic life, the complex relationship between Italian Judaism and Christianity (as well as between Jewish and Christian intellectuals), and the breakdown and subsequent re-establishment of the ghetto in the nineteenth century. While these topics have been studied before, at times in great detail, the conference provides a fresh and new assessment of the field of research.