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Orlando Furioso: The Knights and his Jewish Readers

20Nov6:30 pmOrlando Furioso: The Knights and his Jewish Readers6:30 pm(GMT+00:00) Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16 Street, New York, NY 10011

Event Details

Michela Andreatta, University of Rochester, Serena Di Nepi, University of Rome La Sapienza, Jane Tylus, New York University

Free and open to the public. Reservations:

In 2016 and 2017 Italy celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Orlando Furioso. This conversation offers a reading of Ariosto’s 16th centuries literary masterpieces from a Jewish perspective.

It appears that  Orlando received considerable attention in the Jewish world. Among its numerous translations, one was in Judeo-Spanish (even though a Spanish version already existed) and three chapters, including one that was censored by the Inquisition, were translated into Hebrew by the young Leone da Modena. A best-seller of his time, its satire and a subtle play of roles marked the end of an epoch. Shortly after the publication of the poem, the series of wars that would for ever purge Europe from Islam came to end. The Ottoman Empire, city states and emerging nation states began to confront each other. The first portable weapons entered the history of war and the printing press the history of knowledge and propaganda. New forms of Christianity rose and scientific thought defied the realm of faith. The Jews residing in Western countries faced a century of tremendous instability seeking to define themselves as minority within power structures that they could no longer recognize.

Many works of chivalry literature centered on the Crusade and the contention over Jerusalem, became popular among Jewish readers and were translated into Spanish and Judeo-Spanish.  Although little work has been done on contemporary Jewish responses to the Crusades, Orlando‘s Jewish readership, real or imaginary,  may open a new perspective on the poem as well as on Jewish relations with the society at large in the wake of the expulsion from Spain and the segregation era.



Michela Andreatta joined the Department of Religion and Classics as lecturer in Hebrew in 2011.  She teaches courses in modern and biblical Hebrew, besides classes in Hebrew literature and Jewish history. Dr. Andreatta completed her PhD at the Department of Oriental Studies of the University of Turin in Italy with a dissertation on Latin translations of Hebrew philosophical works in the Renaissance. A specialist of the intellectual and literary history of Italian Jewry in the early modern period, she has lived, studied and conducted research in Israel for several years. Dr. Andreatta has been the recipient of several post-doctoral research fellowships and grants from academic institutions in Europe, Israel, and the United States, among them University of Oxford, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to University of Rochester she has taught at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Jane Tylus is Professor of Italian Studies and Comparative Literature at New York University. Recent books include Siena, City of Secrets (2015), the co-edited Cultures of Early Modern Translation (with Karen Newman, 2015) and The Poetics of Masculinity in Early Modern Spain and Italy (with Gerry Mulligan, 2011), a translation and edition of the complete poetry of Gaspara Stampa (2010), and Reclaiming Catherine of Siena: Literature, Literacy, and the Signs of Others (2009), for which she won the Howard Marraro Prize for Outstanding Work in Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. She is General Editor for the journal I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance. She is currently at work on two monographs, “Saying Good-bye in the Renaissance” and “Pilgrim Words: Linguistic Hospitality in Early Modern Europe,” as well as a translation of Dacia Maraini’s Chiara di Assisi: Elogio della disobbedienza. She has held visiting positions at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and at Yale University, and in spring 2015 was the Robert Lehman Visiting Professor at Harvard’s Villa I Tatti in Florence.

An expert of the history of the Jewish Community of Rome before and during the ghetto era, Serena Di Nepi is Assistant professor of Early Modern History and a member of the history doctoral program committee at La Sapienza. Together with Prof. Marina Caffiero, she is designing the first Italian advanced specialization course in Jewish history. Dr. Di Nepi’s curatorial work includes the exhibitions on the history of Italian Judaism at the National Museum of Italian Judaism in Ferrara (MEIS, 2013); and the exhibition dedicated to the late Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff at The Jewish Museum of Rome (2015). In 2015 she was nominated member of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan and of Jewish Museum of Rome. Dr. Di Nepi represents the Jewish Community of Rome in the international research group on the Jewish library looted by the Nazis in 1943. The project is supported by a partnership with the World Jewish Congress and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic.

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