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  • Monday, December 10, 2018 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

We will be welcoming Arthur Kiron for a talk entitled: “Hidden in Plain Sight: Christian Readers of Rabbinic Literature in the Colonial Americas.” Arthur writes:

The presence of Latin and Greek texts as well as Hebrew Bibles in colonial American libraries is well documented. What lacks systematic documentation are other kinds of Oriental, Hebraic and rabbinic texts that shared the shelves with them. This project aims to explore volumes of such texts that crossed the Atlantic during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and were available as reading materials in institutional and private libraries. Though hidden in plain sight, recognition of these libraries of “Christian rabbinism” - that is, Christian interest in post-Biblical Jewish history and in comparative Semitic scholarship, and its arrival in the Western Hemisphere - requires a shift of attention that now has become possible thanks to a new generation of research on the subject. Christian learning about Judaism as a chapter in the early modern history of scholarship, however, has mainly focused on the European context. How and when this prodigious output, this first wave of scholarly migration, crossed the Atlantic and took root in the colonial Americas still remains to be framed.

Dr. Arthur Kiron is the Schottenstein-Jesselson Curator of Judaica Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of History at Penn.  He oversees multiple national and international partnerships to provide integrated on-line access to significant collections of Judaica and develops a variety of public programs of education and outreach, such as exhibitions, publications, lectures, concerts, and workshops.  Kiron is the Director of the Jesselson-Kaplan American Genizah Project and co-director of the Scribes of the Cairo Genizah Project.  His academic scholarship mainly focuses on Atlantic Jewish history and the history of the Jewish book.  He is the editor of Constellations of Atlantic Jewish History: The Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica (2014), which received the Arline Custer Memorial Award.

All are welcome! Those who do not hold University of Pennsylvania ID cards should bring another form of photo identification in order to enter the library building.


Sep. 17: Nicholas Herman (Penn): “The Book-Shaped Object in Renaissance Europe”

Sep. 24, 25, 27 - Rosenbach Lectures: Carlo Ginzburg (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa): Fossils, Apes, Humans: A Chapter in the History of Science, Revisited

- Sep. 24: “Paleontology and Connoisseurship”

- Sep. 25: “Gods, Humans, Apes: Art History and Evolution”

- Sep. 27: “Medals and Shells: On Morphology and History, Once Again”

Oct. 1: Whitney Trettien (Penn): “Digital Book History”

Oct. 8: Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (Yale): “Unread: A History of the Book in Colonial South Asia”

Oct. 15: J.M. Duffin (Penn): “Draining the Swamp of Arcane Legal Text: Reclaiming the Geography of Eighteenth Century Philadelphia”

Oct. 22: Katie Chenoweth (Princeton): “Printers’ Devices, or, How French Got Its Accents”

Oct. 29: Sarah Guérin (Penn): “On Ivory, Wax, and Paint: New Insights on Devotional Booklets”

Nov. 5: Margo Natalie Crawford (Penn): “The Textual Production of a Shared Black Edge

Nov. 12: David Norbrook (Oxford): “‘But a copie’: Lucy Hutchinson’s Life in her Texts”

Nov. 19: Samantha Sommers (Ohio State): “Reading in Books”

Nov. 26: Gary Dyer (Cleveland State): “John Hunt's Lord Byron"

Dec. 3: Mitch Fraas (Penn): “Boilerplate: Documentation, Paperwork, and the Persistence of Form across the Early Modern and Modern Worlds”

Dec. 10: Arthur Kiron (Penn): “Hidden in Plain Sight: Christian Readers of Rabbinic Literature in the Colonial Americas”