Event Title

Theater and Ritual Murder

Presenter Information

Alison Zak, Colby CollegeFollow

Location

Diamond 344

Start Date

30-4-2015 2:20 PM

End Date

30-4-2015 2:55 PM

Project Type

Presentation

Description

In Reformation Germany, Christians began to persecute Jews for a wide array of sacrilegious activities. Most commonly, Christians accused Jews of host desecration and ritual murder of Christian children. Often, the accusations held little water, but fear and torture was often enough to illicit confessions from the accused. Despite the fact that accusations spread like wildfire, there were those who championed the innocence of Jews. They did so in pamphlets, or in official mandates. However, the population, less than 20% of which was literate, was unreceptive to the written word. People did, however, pay a lot of attention to anti-Semitic plays. Because most people couldn't read, theatrics had a much more profound affect on society than did pamphlets. The Croxton Play of the Sacrament, as well as Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice prominently feature anti-Semitic themes, which is not atypical of the period. Though playwrights claimed to stick to the truth of trial records, seldom were their plays accurate representations of haphazard trials. This project examines how the language of plays contributed to a growing fear of Jews. People respond to theatrics in comparison to other methods of spreading information; this project investigates the link between drama and fear.

Faculty Sponsor

Larissa Taylor

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. History Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Social Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1417

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Apr 30th, 2:20 PM Apr 30th, 2:55 PM

Theater and Ritual Murder

Diamond 344

In Reformation Germany, Christians began to persecute Jews for a wide array of sacrilegious activities. Most commonly, Christians accused Jews of host desecration and ritual murder of Christian children. Often, the accusations held little water, but fear and torture was often enough to illicit confessions from the accused. Despite the fact that accusations spread like wildfire, there were those who championed the innocence of Jews. They did so in pamphlets, or in official mandates. However, the population, less than 20% of which was literate, was unreceptive to the written word. People did, however, pay a lot of attention to anti-Semitic plays. Because most people couldn't read, theatrics had a much more profound affect on society than did pamphlets. The Croxton Play of the Sacrament, as well as Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice prominently feature anti-Semitic themes, which is not atypical of the period. Though playwrights claimed to stick to the truth of trial records, seldom were their plays accurate representations of haphazard trials. This project examines how the language of plays contributed to a growing fear of Jews. People respond to theatrics in comparison to other methods of spreading information; this project investigates the link between drama and fear.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/324