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The Jewish Ghetto and the Visual Imagination of Early Modern Venice


  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316616901

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About the Authors
  • Dana E. Katz examines the Jewish ghetto of Venice as a paradox of urban space. In 1516, the Senate established the ghetto on the periphery of the city and legislated nocturnal curfews to reduce the Jews' visibility in Venice. Katz argues that it was precisely this practice of marginalization that put the ghetto on display for Christian and Jewish eyes. According to her research, early modern Venetians grounded their conceptions of the ghetto in discourses of sight. Katz's unique approach demonstrates how Venice's Jewish ghetto engaged the sensory imagination of its inhabitants in complex and contradictory ways that both shaped urban space and reshaped Christian-Jewish relations.

    • Presents a new approach to the urban spaces of Venice by exploring the influence of the Jewish ghetto
    • Situates the study of ghetto architecture in the context of the senses, particularly seeing and touching
    • Offers a study of Venetian architecture that goes beyond the sumptuousness of Renaissance palaces
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this original and beautifully illustrated book, Katz dissects the ghetto's architecture and visual appearance to understand how space and sight structured Jewish life and Jewish-Christian relations in early modern Venice.' Flora Cassen, H-Judaic

    'This book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the nature of ghettoization and Christian Jewish relations, with stimulating new visions of Venetian urban architecture, spatial relations, and social contexts. Beneficially, the author takes us beyond Venice with wider comparisons and contrasts, thus emphasizing Venetian particularity.' Christopher F. Black, Renaissance and Reformation

    'Recently Jews and Christians celebrated the five hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Venetian ghetto. Tourists come to walk the streets, to see the synagogues, and to eat kosher food. The ghetto space is as much a creation of the Jews as it was of the Venetian authorities. Dana E. Katz's The Jewish Ghetto and the Visual Imagination of Early Modern Venice will serve as an excellent guide to exploring the ghetto today.' Howard Tzvi Adelman, Renaissance Quarterly

    'Katz's insistence on the verticality of the ghetto reminds us to evaluate the full significance of the three-dimensionality of the early modern built environment, which may be mentally flattened by factors such as our familiarity with early modern cartography. More broadly, this study highlights the importance, complexity and porosity of enclosure in the urban context. Above all, it prompts us to reflect on how architecture can frame and direct sensory experience, and how sensory experience shaped social relations.' Alexandra Bamji, Renaissance Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316616901
    • length: 202 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 40 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Margins as laboratories of urban planning
    2. Enclosures as topographies of vision
    3. Windows as sites of visual disturbance
    4. Walls as boundaries of the night

  • Author

    Dana E. Katz, Reed College, Oregon
    Dana E. Katz is Joshua C. Taylor Associate Professor of Art History and Humanities at Reed College, Oregon. Her research explores representations of religious difference in early modern Italy, with a particular focus on Jewish-Christian relations. Katz is the author of The Jew in the Art of the Italian Renaissance (2008), as well as articles in The Art Bulletin, Art History, and Jewish History.

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