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University of Pennsylvania

Changing Minds: Geographic Discoveries and New Worlds through the Eyes of a Renaissance Jewish Scholar

University of Pennsylvania via edX

Overview

This course will explore the world of the Jewish renaissance scholar Abraham ben Mordecai Fairissol and his manuscript A Letter on the Paths of the World ( Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam )— Farissol, a product of the northern Italian Renaissance, wrote this geographical treatise about a world seen anew through advances in science, exploration, and trade. The manuscript gives us insight into the place of Jews in the northern Italian Renaissance and demonstrates the ways they were at once deeply embedded in the changing intellectual landscape of the day, but also striving to assert distinctive Jewish belonging in this vibrant intellectual world. Among other things, this text is the first mention in Hebrew of the discovery of the Americas

Syllabus

1. Abraham Farissol and His Ferraran Environment

2. Illuminating Nature

3. Travel, Humanist Education, and the New Meaning of Geography

4. What are the Aims and Content of the Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam?

5. The Main Sources of Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam

6. How Was the Work Circulated? Who Was Interested? And Who Was the Copyist of the Schoenberg Manuscript? The Evidence from the Manuscript Itself

Taught by

Fabrizio Lelli

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