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Anger, Envy and Hatred: “Jewish Emotions” in Early Modern European anti-Semitic Polemics

Presenter: CHE Partner Investigator Francois Soyer (University of Southampton, UK)
Date: Wednesday 10 August 2016
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Austin Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, The University of Western Australia
Enquiries: Joanne McEwan (joanne.mcewan@uwa.edu.au)

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This lecture examines the role played by emotions in how the figure of the Jew was perceived and represented by early modern anti-Semitic polemicists. It argues that we urgently need to re-examine and nuance the existing perception of the early modern period as one of bland continuity in European anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic polemics and discourse with the medieval period. With the advent of the printing press, the consequent mass production of books and pamphlets and increased lay literacy, a new type of vernacular polemical literature appeared in early modern Europe alongside the older conversionist literature. These new vernacular polemics were no longer concerned with the conversion of Jews to Christianity. Rather their explicit objective was to lobby secular and ecclesiastical powers to take action against Jews (usually persecutory legal measures or expulsions) by actively promoting fear and hatred of Jews amongst the lay population. The History of Emotions can provide us with a conceptual framework that will help us understand how and why the discourse of anti-Jewish hatred was altered and adapted by authors from Protestant northern Germany to Catholic Portugal to target their new readers.

Francois Soyer is an Associate Professor in Late Medieval and Early Modern History at the University of Southampton and a Partner Investigator of the Centre for the History of Emotions. His research focuses on anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim propaganda produced between 1450 and 1750. 

Hosted by the Perth Medieval Renaissance Group and the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Image: Title page of Martin Luther's On the Jews and Their Lies. Wittenberg, 1543, Wikimedia Commons