IMAGINED IDENTITIES: USES OF JUDAISM IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND
Professor Guibbory’s research and teaching focus on seventeenth-century English literature. Working at the intersection of literature and history, she studies literary texts as complex expressions of society. Her project as Center Associate is the culmination of her growing interest in the impact religion has had on culture and society, and in the ways religious identity shapes people’s views of the world and interactions with others. She will show the intense preoccupation in seventeenth-century England with defining English Christian identity and experience (personal as well as communal) in relation to Jewish history and Judaism, seeking to answer such questions as: What were the uses to which Judaism was put by different Christian groups and individuals in England? What attitudes toward Jews did these uses embody? Why at that time was there such a keen, pervasive interest in the relation of Christianity to things Jewish and particularly to Jewish history? Tracing the emergence of a strong yet deeply ambivalent identification of England with Israel, she will explore the cultural significance of this phenomenon and suggest its relevance for understanding Christian-Jewish relations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A senior fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for 2002 complements her appointment to the Center.