In this episode J.J. and Dr. Tamara Morsel-Eisenberg try to figure out what exactly we mean when we say "the Early Modern Period", also legal codes, and the scientific revolution.
Tamara Morsel-Eisenberg is Assistant Professor of Jewish History. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and the Humanities from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania.
Tamara is a historian of the intellectual and cultural history of early modern Jewry. Her research deals with the transmission of Jewish religious knowledge in early modern Europe, especially Jewish law,or "halakha" in early modern Ashkenaz (the German lands, Northern Italy, Central and Eastern Europe).
For her doctoral thesis, Tamara studied how these communities passed on their halakhic knowledge in the sixteenth century at a time of profound change at a communal, technological, and intellectual level. Communities were dismantled and rebuilt in new locations, the printing press was transforming the realities of text, and systematized organizational schemes became the standard order for Jewish legal writings. These three shifts completely changed how this culture passed on its traditions. Tamara analyzed these changes, employing rabbinic responsa (answers about concrete questions of Jewish law) to examine their significance. She is currently working on a monograph that treats this transformation (Remaking Rabbinic Culture) and another dealing with early modern rabbinic responsa as an alternative genre to legal codifications (Law and Disorder).
Tamara has written numerous articles on early modern Jewry, including on topics such as rabbinic responsa and epidemics, scholarly archives and practices of organizing knowledge among rabbis, print and its impact on the conception of knowledge and religious law, and Renaissance art in rabbinic responsa. Her articles have appeared in the Journal for the History of Ideas, AJS Review, Critical Inquiry, Tablet, and other publications.
Tamara's research interests include questions of religious law, legal authority, codification, knowledge organization, scholarly culture, intellectual practices, the material history of books, print history, and the intersection of technology and information.
Prior to joining NYU, Tamara was a Junior Fellow at Harvard's Society of Fellows, a Starr Fellow at Harvard's Center for Judaic Studies, and a Berkowitz Fellow at NYU Law.