The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

MAY 8 Isaac and Antichrist in the Archives: A New Reading of the Earliest Known Anti-Jewish Caricature

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue/ROOM: 9207


In this paper Sara Lipton will offer a re-reading of the earliest known anti-Jewish caricature, a sketch atop an English Exchequer Receipt Roll from 1233 depicting a monstrously three-faced Jew named Isaac of Norwich presiding over two beak-nosed Jewish companions.  Professor Lipton says: “Whereas the drawing is generally discussed as an episode in the history of anti-Judaism, I seek to situate it in its direct material and political contexts and foreground its origins in governmental administration and scribal practice.  While I do address what the cartoon reveals about medieval Jewish-Christian relations, I am less interested in gauging its degree of anti-Jewishness than in using it to explore broader historical and historiographical issues: how cultural symbols and discourses filter through local communities and conflicts; how the development of a literate, classifying bureaucratic society affected perception and representation; and how the nature of evidence contours its own interpretation.”

Sara Lipton is Associate Professor of History and Judaic Studies at Stony Brook University (SUNY-Stony Brook). Her work focuses on religious identity and experience, Jewish-Christian relations, and art and culture in the high and later Middle Ages (11th-15th centuries). She is the author of Images of Intolerance: The Representation of Jews and Judaism in the Bible moralisée (1999) and Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography (2014).

The talk is sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies



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