David S. Lobel lecture by Galit Hasan-Rokem (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Sponsored by the Taube Center for Jewish Studies and co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies. Free and open to the public.
The legend of the Wandering Jew has played a central role in conceptualizing and imagining Europe. The lecture will first trace its early versions in the Middle East and in Southern Europe and then address the almost coeval appearance of the first known German editions of the most frequently distributed version of the Wandering Jew tale in North and West Europe and the advent of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, around the turn of the 15th to the 16th century. Drawing attention to possible links between the literary lives of Shylock and the protagonist of the legend, Galit Hasan-Rokem proposes some instances in which she traces a probable awareness of some version of the legend by the playwright. This reading reinforces ways of studying the emergence of folklore between various cultures rather than as an expression of a specific culture by itself.