The Katz Center's offerings reach beyond local, in-person audiences in several ways.
- a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) series, featuring rare manuscripts in the Penn Libraries collection
- a video archive of past events in our community programming series
- a blog presenting high-caliber scholarship in bite-sized doses
Our video archive is under construction. You can find many of the Katz Center's videos on YouTube here.
A MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is a course available free of charge to anyone worldwide with an internet connection. The Katz Center has extended its global reach by developing a series of minicourses with the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS). Each SIMS-Katz fellow prepares a video teaching session. Each is coherent in its own right, but together the courses make up a masterclass in which the finest scholars of an era demonstrate the value of manuscripts for the work of scholarship by walking us through the riches of specific documents in our extensive collections. Linked to one another by manuscripts, the courses are also individual introductions to the worlds of each text.
Professor Y. Tzvi Langermann: The History of Medieval Medicine through Jewish Manuscripts: in this course one can learn about medieval Jewish medical training and thought by exploring and interpreting a distinctive fifteenth-century medical manuscript. Langermann’s course draws us into the world of medieval medicine, showing how one medical miscellany incorporates both highly sophisticated theories of the body drawn from Greek and Arabic science and the nuts and bolts of the treatment of disease. Notes in the margins of this manuscript, for example, indicate the local Sicilian words for plants needed for a remedy, telling us not only about dialects, but also about botany across the Mediterranean, Jewish interaction with non-Jews, education, multilingualism, and much more.
Professor Alessandro Guetta: The Tabernacle in Word & Image: An Italian Jewish Manuscript Revealed. This case study is constructed on a single, remarkable Hebrew manuscript from seventeenth-century Mantua: Malkiel Ashkenazi’s Tavnit ha-mishkan, an extended commentary on the structure and implements of the ancient Israelite Tabernacle (mishkan). Guetta suggests ways that this work, which examines the details of a long-destroyed building, illuminates Italian Jewish intellectual life in the early modern period, as Jews expressed themselves in terms that combined Jewish traditions with the Renaissance humanism around them.
Professor Judith Olszowy-Schlanger’s course The Scribes of the Cairo Geniza (forthcoming winter 2018–19), uses Penn’s holdings from the Cairo Geniza to introduce to students to the methods and riches of paleography. Unlike print, handwriting does not merely transmit content, but is itself a bearer of information: handwriting can allow us to date otherwise anonymous fragments, tell us how to map Jewish networks as well as relationships between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors, give us access into the personalities, careers, and interests of scribes, help us learn how Jews learned to read and write. Using forensic techniques, Olszowy-Schlanger makes handwriting into lively of evidence of a vibrant Jewish past.