University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Department of Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series > Big and small history in the Genizah: how necessary is the Cairo Genizah to writing the history of the Medieval Mediterranean?

Big and small history in the Genizah: how necessary is the Cairo Genizah to writing the history of the Medieval Mediterranean?

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  • UserDr Ben Outhwaite, University of Cambridge
  • ClockThursday 08 February 2018, 17:15-18:45
  • HouseFAMES, Room 8/9.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Charis Olszok.

As many will know (particularly after my talk), the modern discovery of the vast trove of medieval manuscripts in the Cairo Genizah was an ‘epoch-making event’ in Jewish Studies. The degree to which it has not just filled in gaps in our knowledge of the history of the Jews of the Islamic world, but opened up whole new areas of investigation, is remarkable. The great historian of this world, S. D. Goitein, maintained that the Genizah spoke more widely, however, of a Mediterranean Society that crossed confessional boundaries, and blurred distinctions between Jews, Muslims and Christians, as they all embarked on a shared quest for economic and social stability, and that the manuscripts gave an insight even into ‘the soul of medieval man’. Thirty years after his death, can we agree with Goitein’s claims for universal relevance of the Genizah? How has recent scholarship employed Genizah material? Should we all be reading the manuscripts of the Cairo Genizah?

This talk is part of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series series.

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