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The 2021 Kutler Lectures, Day 1
October 18, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
“Women’s Things: The Art of the Jewish Family”
Laura A. Leibman
Professor of English and Humanities
Monday, October 18, 2021
Like social history more generally, the history of silence is one of patterns. Who gets to speak and which stories are chosen is always subject to negotiation between archivists, curators, and academics. In this lecture, Professor Leibman pays particular attention to role poverty, education, and health played in silencing early American Jewish women’s voices and the way early American laws, economies, and religious institutions kept what women did write out of archives. Objects owned by Jewish women between 1750-1850 can help fill these gaps. Relying on objects helps re-center Jewishness in the family rather than the synagogue, and enables us to talk about women who began (and sometimes ended) their lives in abject poverty. Emphasizing objects, fragments, and silences also nuances our sense of women’s agency in the past. Despite the significant constraints on their lives, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women made decisions about what objects were worth keeping and passing along, and to whom.
Sponsored by Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, and the Department of History.