Education: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Ph.D.
Herbert Baxter Adams Prize, American Historical Association, 2006, for The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence.
The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence: The Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2006.
University of Michigan professor Stefanie Siegmund's award-winning study The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence: The Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community tells the story of the re-creation of the medieval Jewish community in Florence by the Renaissance rulers of the Italian city-state. Beginning in 1570, Cosimo de Medici began forcing all Florentine Jews to either leave the city or to move into a single area, segregated from the rest of Florence by walls and gates: the ghetto. ‘Traditionally, the ghetto is the arch-symbol of the Jewish policy of militant Counter-Reformation Italian Catholicism,’ explained Catholic Historical Review contributor David Katz. ‘A reinvigorated Church instituted a new and tougher policy on Jews in Italy, who were either expelled or else stripped of many rights and privileges and confined to ghettoes."
Siegmund shows that this model does not necessarily apply to Florence. ‘Florence was not the papal state,’ declared Kenneth Stow in the American Historical Review, ‘and Cosimo de Medici, this new book argues, had no need fully to identify with papal aims, allowing him to bend papal policies to suit political ends.’ Instead, Siegmund suggests, the ghettoization allowed the Medicis to restructure Jewish life without forcing the Jews to leave altogether. ‘The creation of the ghetto,’ Katz concluded, ‘is not to be viewed as simply an arbitrary act of a capricious or cynical ruler, but as part of a broad trend of the reorganization of society carried out by a centralizing bureaucracy to create a new political and social reality, a Jewish analogue, in fact, to the Catholic parish."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, February, 2007, Kenneth Stow, review of The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence: The Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community, p. 302.
Catholic Historical Review, July 1, 2007, David Katz, review of The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December, 2006, K. Gouwens, review of The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence, p. 709.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 2006, review of The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence.
Times Literary Supplement, January 5, 2007, ‘The Wrong Sort of Walls,’ p. 9.
American Historical Association Web site,http://www.historians.org/ (November 5, 2007), ‘Book Awards."
Record (University of Michigan), http://www.umich.edu/ (November 5, 2007), Kevin Bergquist, ‘Regents Approve Faculty Promotions."
University of Michigan, Judaic Studies Web site,http://www.lsa.umich.edu/ (November 5, 2007), author biography.