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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER Romance as History, means that some texts, most notably the Bridlington Prophecy, do not receive as clear an analysis as they may have otherwise. I trust, however, that this will be rectified in that project, and I particularly look forward to the promised expansion of the discussion of the relationship between romance and historiographic discourses. A short review, however, cannot do justice to the depth of Ingledew’s scholarship . His careful reading will enrich our understanding of the penitential and liturgical aspects of the poem and renew debate about its historical context and references. Richard J. Moll University of Western Ontario Steven F. Kruger. The Spectral Jew: Conversion and Embodiment in Medieval Europe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. Pp. xxx, 320. $26.00 paper, $78.00 cloth. Steven Kruger has been writing important and innovative articles on the topic of representations of Jews in the Middle Ages for over a decade now. This background shows in the breadth and erudition of this book, which is not simply a reprinting of earlier articles, but a significant and thoughtful expansion of this earlier work. The study draws upon an unusually wide range of sources and locations and thereby fulfills its goal of presenting changes and continuities over time and geographical region. Kruger opens with a reading of a visual representation of ‘‘The Living Cross,’’ engaging questions of gender as well as religious difference. This is a real strength of the book; although the title focus is on Jews, Kruger never loses sight of the intersection of this category not only with gender but also with sexuality and with other forms of religious difference, including representations of Islam and of heresy. This opening reading is later echoed by an equally compelling reading of Chagall’s White Crucifixion . Kruger’s readings maintain a firm basis in specific historical times and settings, but he also never loses sight of the relevance of his readings to contemporary issues and debates. The book’s title concept, ‘‘spectrality,’’ is a very effective tool for understanding what Kruger rightly terms the ‘‘strong ambivalence’’ in PAGE 502 502 ................. 16596$ CH13 11-01-10 14:08:29 PS REVIEWS medieval Christian representations of and treatment of Jews and Judaism (p. 5). Kruger’s theoretical frame draws primarily on Derrida’s Specters of Marx, but it is also influenced by work on sexuality (Terry Castle) and race (Kathleen Brogan). Kruger begins by examining the importance of temporality to Christian formulations of the role of Jews and Judaism; the notion of supersession posits that Judaism is the Old Law, but this ancestor cannot be completely discarded, since it is upon this Jewish foundation that Christianity’s claims to truth lie. In order to deal with this paradox, Kruger argues, Christianity attempts to ‘‘conjure’’ away the Jewish past, but this very conjuring perpetuates a haunting Jewish presence. As Kruger observes, ‘‘In being summoned up for burial, Jewish corporeality is also paradoxically preserved and invested with a transgressive, polluting power’’ (p. 13). In describing this phenomenon of an ‘‘absent presence,’’ Kruger takes care not to erase actual Jews from his argument. The book continually attempts to take into the account the impact of their spectral representational role on actual Jews, particularly through focusing on the debate genre and the question of conversion, which, as Kruger shows, are often interrelated historically and textually. Chapter 2 focuses on what Kruger calls the ‘‘long twelfth century,’’ a period marked by increased and significant cultural and intellectual exchange between Christians and Jews as well as a significant negative shift in the nature, tone, and magnitude of polemic against Jews and Judaism. Focusing on the writings of Guibert de Nogent, Kruger shows the ways in which the new formulations of Christian identity developed in the ‘‘twelfth-century Renaissance’’ were dependent on conceptions of Jews and particularly of Jewish bodies as a site through and against which Christian identity was defined. Kruger also demonstrates how the figure of the Muslim was seen as a different, but related, form of threat and reads Guibert against contemporary Jewish writings, specifically responses to the pogroms of the first Crusade, which constructed models of martyrdom in response to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 502-504
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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