Jews in the Early Modern English Imagination: A Scattered Nation, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Jews in the Early Modern English Imagination

A Scattered Nation, 1st Edition

By Eva Johanna Holmberg


186 pages

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Based on travel writings, religious history and popular literature, Jews in the Early Modern English Imagination explores the encounter between English travellers and the Jews. While literary and religious traditions created an image of Jews as untrustworthy, even sinister, travellers came to know them in their many and diverse communities with rich traditions and intriguing life-styles. The Jew of the imagination encountered the Jew of town and village, in southern Europe, North Africa and the Levant. Coming from an England riven by religious disputes and often by political unrest, travellers brought their own questions about identity, national character, religious belief and the quality of human relations to their encounter with 'the scattered nation'.


'Based on a wide range of sources and enlivened by perceptive comments, Eva Holmberg's book makes a good example of a new kind of history, the history of the collective imagination'. Peter Burke, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, UK 'Dr Holmberg does justice to the richness of the subject by using a wide range of historical approaches and an impressive array of sources.' Miri Rubin, Queen Mary, University of London, UK 'Since the publication of James Shapiro’s seminal study, Shakespeare and the Jews, in 1996, a small stream of scholarship has appeared, and with each publication, we have gained a clearer picture of the place of Jews in our collective cultural history. With her new book, Jews in the Early Modern English Imagination, Eva Johanna Holmberg provides a much-needed addition to this archive… Holmberg’s work should be valued for the careful and detailed presentation she gives to her primary sources. Here under one cover, the interested scholar can now easily access hundreds of key passages recording firsthand accounts by English travelers detailing their impressions and encounters with Jews… Holmberg’s work should be greeted as a most welcome addition to this lively conversation about Jews in early modern history.' Renaissance Quarterly 'Ow­ing to the steady stream of data presented about the ways in which both preconceptions and lived experience influenced how Jews were imagined in the seventeenth century, this book will be a useful and reliable resource for students of cultural history, social anthropology, travel literature, and especially diaspora studies.' The Seventeenth-Century News 'Holmberg’s study provides a groundbreaking and much-needed analysis on a question which still needs to be seriously investigated. Her book will no doubt prove very useful to all those interested in the history of ideas in general and in the early modern period in particular, but the clear layout and her agreeable, accessible style will surely attract non-specia

About the Author

Eva Johanna Holmberg is Postdoctoral Researcher of the Academy of Finland at the University of Helsinki and a visiting fellow at the Department of History, Queen Mary, University of London.

About the Series

Transculturalisms, 1400-1700

This series presents studies of the early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate travellers, merchants and cultural inventors, including explorers, mapmakers, artists and writers, as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturism/translation and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

-Material exchanges, including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge

-Movements of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement

-Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms and effects on writing in other genres

-Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences

-Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical

-Forms of transnational violence and its representations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Social History