Swerving from the Sacred: Disenchanted Jews in the Vernon Manuscript

Document Type

Invited Lecture

Presentation Date


Conference or Event Name

Fellow talk series

Conference Location

Ann Arbor, MI


This lecture queries the survival of three of the four surviving Marian lyrics in the fifteenth-century Vernon Manuscript (Eng. poet a. 1): “Child Slain by Jews,” “Jewish Boy,” and “Merchant’s Surety.” These three narratives perform a usefulness in two otherwise unrelated—if not downright antagonistic—cultural economies. In the medieval culture in which these narratives were born, the sacred Marian narratives frame Jews as secularized outsiders, concerned with material objects rather than perpetual sanctity. In the Early Modern culture in which they were preserved, these three Marian legends immortalize antisemitism as the perfect refrain in sacred Christian temporality and, perhaps more importantly, as essential narratives in the growth of a nation.


Miriamne Ara Krummel gave this lecture as a Frankel Fellow at the Frankel Institute of Advanced Judaic Studies during the 2015-2016 academic year. Her first monograph, Crafting Jewishness in Medieval England: Legally Absent, Virtually, was published in 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan in the New Middle Ages Series.

The paper presented in this video represents her current thinking about images of the Jewish figure in, mostly, late medieval English manuscripts. “Swerving from the Sacred” is part of a chapter in Krummel’s second monograph, currently going under the title Sacred Matters: The Medieval Postcolonial Jew, In and Out of Time.

An author of creative and critical nonfiction, Krummel has had her scholarship appear in edited volumes and such journals as Exemplaria, Shofar, Postmedieval, and Texas Studies in Literature and Language.

Streaming Media

This document is currently not available here.