Category Archives: book history

Professor Magda Teter’s New Book, “Blood Libel: On the Trail of An AntiSemetic Myth” (Harvard, 2020) is Now Out.

About the Book:

“A landmark history of the antisemitic blood libel myth—how it took root in Europe, spread with the invention of the printing press, and persists today. Accusations that Jews ritually killed Christian children emerged in the mid-twelfth century, following the death of twelve-year-old William of Norwich, England, in 1144. Later, continental Europeans added a destructive twist: Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood. While charges that Jews poisoned wells and desecrated the communion host waned over the years, the blood libel survived.

Initially blood libel stories were confined to monastic chronicles and local lore. But the development of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century expanded the audience and crystallized the vocabulary, images, and “facts” of the blood libel, providing a lasting template for hate. Tales of Jews killing Christians—notably Simon of Trent, a toddler whose body was found under a Jewish house in 1475—were widely disseminated using the new technology. Following the paper trail across Europe, from England to Italy to Poland, Magda Teter shows how the blood libel was internalized and how Jews and Christians dealt with the repercussions. The pattern established in early modern Europe still plays out today. In 2014 the Anti-Defamation League appealed to Facebook to take down a page titled “Jewish Ritual Murder.” The following year white supremacists gathered in England to honor Little Hugh of Lincoln as a sacrificial victim of the Jews. Based on sources in eight countries and ten languages, Blood Libel captures the long shadow of a pernicious myth.”

Book Reviews:

“An intellectual tour de force. This authoritative study of the blood libel and its ramifications in early modern Europe will become a classic.”—Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, author of Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial

“A work of wide-ranging research, great insight, and remarkable erudition. This will be the definitive book on blood libel for a long time to come, equally important for readers of Jewish history and Christian history in early modern Europe.”—Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment

“In this deeply researched and meticulously argued book, Magda Teter offers the first comprehensive study of the origins and afterlife of one of the most virulent and harmful of all anti-Jewish accusations. But Blood Libel is far more than a narrative history. By highlighting the central role of printed books, broadsheets, and images in the dissemination of the libel, Teter illuminates the mechanisms by which hate can be generated, and offers a powerful and sobering lesson for our own time.”—Sara Lipton, author of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography

Magda Teter

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A Trip To Walsh Library: Introducing Undergraduates to Book History

Michael Sanders, professor and PhD student of the History Department, has written about his experience teaching undergraduates and the extraordinary  introductions he has given them to Walsh Library’s resources and staff. Read about them below:

Michael Sanders in Walsh Library, Rose Hill Campus

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Rethinking Spanish Colonialism

In February, Dr. Elizabeth Penry, Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the History Department, participated in an international symposium, titled “Unsettling Resettlement: Forced Concentration of the Native Population in the Colonial Andes.” This international symposium co-sponsored by the Japanese National Ethnology Museum, Osaka and Vanderbilt University brought together a dozen scholars, including archeologists, anthropologists, and historians from Japan, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and the US to meet at Vanderbilt University for three days. The multi-disciplinary project is re-examining and digitally mapping the sixteenth century resettlement by Spaniards of upwards of 1,500,000 indigenous Andeans. Continue reading

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