Teter, Magda 1970- (Magdalena Teter)

views updated

Teter, Magda 1970- (Magdalena Teter)


Born 1970. Education: University of Warsaw, Institute of Oriental Studies, M.A., 1993; Columbia University, M.A., 1994, M.Phil., 1996, Ph.D., 2000.


Office—Wesleyan University, Department of History, PAC 313, Middletown, CT 06459-0002; fax: 860-685-2078. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, historian, theologian, and educator. Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, assistant professor, 2000-07, associate professor of history, 2007—. Early Modern Workshop Project (an online resource for scholars of Early Modern History and Jewish studies), director. Fordham University, adjunct instructor, 1998; Harvard University, Center for Jewish Studies, Harry Starr Fellow and visiting scholar, 2002; University of Pennsylvania, Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, adjunct fellow, 2002-03. Presenter at conferences and academic meetings.


Center for Jewish Studies Fellowship, Columbia University, 1994-2000; Richard Hofstadter Fellowship, Columbia University, 1993-94; president's fellowship, Columbia University, 1994-98; Louise Hoffman Memorial Scholar, Columbia University, 1997-98; Mark Uveeler Doctoral Fellowship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, 1997-98; doctoral fellowship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, 1998-99; postdoctoral fellowship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, 2000-02; Salo and Jeanette Baron Prize for best dissertation in Jewish Studies at Columbia University between 1995 and 2001, 2001; Meigs Fund Grant, Wesleyan University, 2001-02; Harry Starr postdoctoral fellowship, Center for Jewish Studies, Harvard University, 2002; Ephraim Urbach postdoctoral fellowship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, 2002-03; project grant, Wesleyan University, 2003-03; Jewish Studies Publication Prize, Koret Foundation (San Francisco, CA), for Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland, 2003; Mellon Workshop Grant, Wesleyan University, 2003; Mellon Center for Faculty Development Grant, Wesleyan University, 2004; Yad Ha-Nadiv/Berakha Foundation (Israel) fellowship, 2003-04; Dina Abramowicz Emerging Scholar fellowship, YIVO Institute, 2004-05; Snowden Fund Grant, Wesleyan University, 2005; project grant, Wesleyan University, 2005-06; Center for Faculty Development Grant, Wesleyan University, 2006; Yeshiva University and University of Maryland grant, 2006; seed grant, Wesleyan University, 2006; Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 2007; Emeline Bigelow Conland fellowship, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, 2007-08.


Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Biblical Translations in Context, edited by Frederick Knobloch, University of Maryland Press (College Park, MD), 2002; and the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals, including AJS Review, Jewish History, Sixteenth Century Journal, Shofar, H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, and Dosh Yidishe Vort.


Writer, historian, and educator Magda Teter is a scholar of Jewish history and early modern religious and cultural history. She specializes in Jewish-Christian relations, she stated in an autobiography on the Wesleyan University Web site. Her teaching activities closely reflect her scholarly interests, as she conducts classes on subjects such as early modern European history, premodern religious and cultural history, and Jewish history. Teter holds M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University, as well as an M.A. degree from the Institute of Oriental Studies at the University of Warsaw in Poland.

Teter is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She is closely allied with the Early Modern Workshop project, serving as its director. The project consists of "an online resource for scholars and students of early modern history and Jewish studies," Teter related on the Wesleyan University Web site. This important scholarly project has been supported by institutions such as the Library of Congress, the Mellon Foundation, the University of Maryland, and Yeshiva University, Teter reported.

In Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era, Teter examines the history of Polish Jews and their relationship with the Catholic Church in the years following the Protestant Reformation. A long-held view among historians was that the Catholic Church in Poland managed to hold out against the dramatic changes brought about by the Reformation, and that it retained its dominant position there. Subsequently, the church developed and encouraged strong currents of anti-Semitism throughout the country. Teter, however, suggests that while the Catholic Church may have been the strongest religious force in Poland, it had to struggle against the ideas of the Reformation and had a difficult time retaining a strong hold on Catholics throughout the country. "Teter's central argument is this: the Counter-Reformation Polish Catholic Church was by no means a triumphant one; rather, it felt threatened by a powerful synagoga and a multitude of heretics and developed, in the course of the early modern period, a powerful discourse of intolerance in the effort to consolidate a Polish Catholic identity," commented R. Po-chia Hsia, writing in Church History.

Poland of the time was home to a significant concentration of Jews—"nearly half of all Jewry by one estimate, who enjoyed, moreover, a better political and social position than Jewries elsewhere," Hsia reported. Furthermore, Poland found itself host to a number of other post-Reformation religious groups that stood in contrast to the Catholics, including Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, and many others. Many Jews were prominent figures in Polish economics, politics, and society, occupying important positions as business owners, money lenders, innkeepers, estate managers, and other critical occupations, Hsia noted. They worked with and for the wealthy and powerful magnates in the country. The position of Jews in Poland contrasted with the Catholic view of Jewish servitude; furthermore, Judaism was such a strong force that many Polish Catholics converted to Judaism. To protect its position, the Polish Catholic Church stressed the political power inherent in basic structure involving the King, the nobility, and the Church itself. With this powerful group reasserting itself and creating a strong hierarchy of power and influence, "non-Catholics were played against each other to justify the power of the Church," and anti-Semitism took root and expanded within Poland, stated a contributor to Reference & Research Book News.

Teter supports her historical assessment with many pertinent illustrations, a glossary and bibliography, and extensive notes that are "especially helpful, drawn from an extremely wide range of literature, often broadened by Teter's own penetrating analysis," commented Helena J. Czosnyka, writing in the Catholic Historical Review. Hsia concluded that Teter's book is a "valuable contribution," and that she presents "a persuasive thesis that will be of interest to all historians of early modern Europe."



Catholic Historical Review, July, 2007, Helena J. Czosnyka, review of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era, p. 673.

Church History, December, 2006, R. Po-chia Hsia, review of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland, p. 910.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland.

Slavic Review, winter, 2007, Barbara Skinner, review of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland, p. 732.


Early Modern Workshop Project,http://www.earlymodern.org/ (May 28, 2008).

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Web site,http://www.radcliffe.edu/ (May 28, 2008), author profile.

Wesleyan University Web site,http://www.wesleyan.edu/ (May 28, 2008), author profile.