Junior Fellow: July 2016
Research Project: Gender and Modes of Scepticism in and out of the Venetian Ghetto. Sara Copio Sullam and the Accademia degli Incogniti
The research project of Evelien Chayes investigates early seventeenth-century debates between Venetian Jews and members of the Accademia degli Incogniti on the immortality of the soul and body-soul dualism, debates which have been held for millenia. While they each pursued this theme along their own lines, their texts are highly conscious of ancient traditions (Greek and Latin, Jewish, Christian), with special attention to Aristotelian as well as Pythagorean principles and to Jewish learning. The soul was the central topic par excellence of the Italian academies since 1550, and in the Incogniti’s 1635 Discorsi, this core matter experienced an epistemological shift, strongly influenced by an increasingly sceptical approach. We can directly connect this orientation to contemporary sources, notably Jewish ones, concerning immortality and the transmigration of the soul. This research will uncover intellectual efforts and exchanges on the part of hitherto obscure or unstudied rabbis and Christians in the Veneto in the first half of the seventeenth century.
Evelien Chayes teaches at the Université Bordeaux Montaigne. Her PhD (received from the University of Amsterdam, 2007) treated the early modern reception and reworking of the ancient book-lore on precious stones.