Oxford Visiting Fellowships in Advanced Jewish Studies

"Between Sacred and Profane – Jewish Musical Cultures in Early Modern Europe"


Throughout the four decades of its existence, the Centre has enabled many dozens of Visiting Fellows from around the world to pursue research in Oxford in all areas of Jewish history, literature, language, and thought.

Library facilities include the Leopold Muller Memorial Library and the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

2019-2020 Seminar: Between Sacred and Profane – Jewish Musical Cultures in Early Modern Europe

The Oxford Seminar in Advanced Jewish Studies for 2019-2020 will focus on Ashkenazic, Italian-Jewish and Western Sephardic musical expressions in Europe during the early modern period (excluding European Jewish communities under Ottoman rule). Special emphasis will be given to the connection of liturgical, semi-liturgical and secular spheres within both composition and performance practice—hence the title “Between Sacred and Profane”. A group of up to eight Visiting Fellows in each Oxford term will examine the connections between these three major Jewish cultural entities (especially in urban spaces where they were all part of a complex Jewish
soundscape) and external connections with the European musical cultures in which this Jewish music developed.

The study of Jewish Music 1500-1750 has been fuelled in the course of the last decades by the discovery of the early modern period as one of the formative periods in Jewish history; by a shift of focus from a ‘high culture’ perspective to the history of everyday life and gender studies, including the vernaculars and their musical expressions; by the rediscovery of important materials relating to the music of the Sephardic and Italian Jewish communities in the West; by reconstructions of Jewish song culture and performance practice in Italy and
Ashkenaz; by the discovery of secondary sources on Jewish Music in this period in the writings of Christian Hebraists and fragments in Christian compositions; and by analysis of concepts expressed by Jewish religious authorities with regard to music. The group will build on this earlier work, examining in particular the manifestations of Jewish music which elude the categories found in Western musical traditions, such as synagogue music, prayer chants, various semi-liturgical songs and hymns and the traditions that would eventually evolve into klezmer, as well as the interdependence and processes of demarcation between sacred and profane in various European
Jewish musical cultures throughout this period.

The group will be led by Diana Matut (Heidelberg/Halle-Wittenberg) and will include Ruth HaCohen (Hebrew University), Edwin Seroussi (Hebrew University) and Deborah Rooke (Oxford).

Applications for Visiting Fellowships are invited from scholars working in any of these fields related to Jewish music from 1500-1750.
Each week, one member of the group will present an aspect of his or her research. In addition, weekly reading sessions will be held. Weekly seminars will be convened through the duration of two Oxford terms: 10 October to 8 December 2019 and 16 January to 18 March 2020. These will offer a forum for the Fellows to address central research topics related to the overall theme of the Seminar. The concluding conference will be held from 16 to 18 March 2020.

Visiting Fellows will receive an allowance of £2,515 (pro rata) per calendar month for the period of their tenure. Travelling expenses up to £550 pounds sterling will also be provided, and Fellows will be provided with a college association during their time at Oxford. Fellows will be expected to be in Oxford for at least one Oxford term. Applicants should indicate the specific research they would undertake in the course of Fellowship and how this research would contribute to the broader work of the project. Applications both by senior scholars and by scholars at postdoctoral and advanced doctoral level are welcome.

Application date
6 months
Humanities : Classical Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature, Philosophy, Theology and religion