Filth: A (Literally) Dirty History of Jewish Texts

When and Where

Monday, September 18, 2023 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St. George Street, 1st floor


Eva Mroczek


Joseph and Gertie Schwartz Memorial Lecture

Eva Mroczek (University of California, Davis)

“Filth: A (Literally) Dirty History of Jewish Texts”

Date: Monday, September 18, at 4 PM

Location: JHB100 (170 St. George Street)


Description: Manuscripts found in the garbage; ancient scroll fragments digested and excreted by rats; precious texts written in pus on leprous skin. Across the boundaries between history, legend, and fiction, Jewish writings are surprisingly often associated with contamination and decay. From the Bar Kokhbah letters through the Zohar to SY Agnon, this talk explores what images of filth and refuse reveal about the cultural logic of sacred texts and ancient pasts.

Eva Mroczek, an alumna of ATCJS (2012), is a scholar of early Jewish literary cultures and book history. Her first book, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (2016), conceptualized how early Jews imagined their own scriptures before the formation of a biblical canon. Her forthcoming book, Out of the Cave: The Possibility of a New Biblical Past, is about ancient and modern manuscript discovery stories as a literary and religious genre. Currently Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis, she will begin an appointment as the Simon and Riva Spatz Chair in Jewish Studies at Dalhousie University in 2024.

            Please note that seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. If you require accommodations due to accessibility needs, please email


Contact Information

Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies


Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies


170 St. George Street, 1st floor