Jessica Goldberg will speak at the Seminar in Cultural History on Wednesday, February 6, 2013. Her talk is entitled “Mining Medieval Sources: Documents as Texts, Documents as Objects in the Cairo Geniza.”

Goldberg’s first book, Trade and Institutions in the Medieval Mediterranean: The Geniza Merchants and their Business World (Cambridge University Press, 2012), analyzes the structure and geography of the medieval Islamic commercial economy by looking at the ways a group of eleventh-century merchants engaged with local and long-distance infrastructures and institutions of trade. In it, she also examines how notions of identity—religious, political, and geographic—affected the practices of business. Goldberg’s current research on the twelfth-century Mediterranean compares two merchant communities: the circle of Jewish merchants who left their papers in the Cairo Geniza, and the merchant of Genoa. This new work examines how geographies of trade shifted as Italians expanded their market participation in the Mediterranean, and the ideas of places and markets that underpinned merchants’ choices.

Jessica Goldberg is Assistant Professor of Medieval History at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her M.A. in Education from the Bankstreet School of Education and her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. Goldberg has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, a post-doctoral fellow in the Stanford Humanities Fellows Program, and a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a 2012 Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. Goldberg’s research is focused primarily on the Islamic and Italian eastern Mediterranean of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. She studies both comparative and intersecting developments in the history of merchants—their roles in their respective societies and their roles in the Mediterranean economy. These interests have led to a variety of related topics of study: analysis of the practical minutiae of how business, manufacturing, and trade worked; studies of ideas and practices of both religious and secular law; examination of merchants’ ideas of region, regional identity and market spaces; and explorations of the rhetorics and norms that govern non-literary medieval writing.