In this authoritative volume, specialists from many fields of Jewish studies provide an introduction to the history of the ghetto of Venice and up-to-date scholarship on the subject from the perspectives of various disciplines—including political, economic, women's, institutional, social and cultural history, religious studies, and musicology. While the book's coverage extends throughout Venetian history and to the broader contexts of Italy, the main focus is the period when Jewish life in the city was at its most vigorous—from the early sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries, a period which saw the creation of both the cultural heritage and the physical architecture that came to characterize the ghetto.
The eleven essays constituting the volume are divided into three sections. The first section, titled "Settlement," provides a historical overview and topographical prologue. The second section, "Ethnicities and Identities," examines the varied social groups that combined to make up the ghetto community. The final section, "Cultures," looks at the traditions of faith, thought, and art which were produced in the Venetian ghetto over the centuries.
As the editors point out, the ghetto and its community "paradoxically was at the same time an integral part of the city of Venice while also rigorously excluded from it." The constraints of the ghetto and the concomitant interaction of various Jewish traditions produced a remarkable cultural flowering.
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