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Faculty of Humanities / History
Professor Esther Cohen
Medieval History


Welcome To Prof. Esther Cohen’s Website

I was born in Jerusalem, and grew up in Zürich, New York, Santiago de Chile, and Jerusalem. After military service, I did my BA at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in medieval history. I did my graduate work at Brown University, Providence, RI, under the guidance of Prof. Bryce Lyon, as a fellowship recipient. Subsequently, I taught in Ben Gurion University of the Negev from 1976 to 1994, when I joined the faculty of the Hebrew University.
Over the years, I have been affiliated with several research institutions: the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (visiting and research fellow, twice), visiting member, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; research fellow, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA; and for three years, Research group leader, “Knowledge and Pain,” Scholion Interdisciplinary Center of the Mandel Institute for Jewish Studies. In 2009 I received fro Yad HaNadiv (The Rothchild foundation, the Humanities Fund in Israel), together with Profs. Aslanov (Hebrew University) and Hen (Ben Gurion University) a grant for running three summer courses in medieval Latin and paleography. Thus far, the first course (summer 2010) was a great success, and we intend to conduct the second one on the summer of 2013.
In 2011 I received the Polonsky prize for excellence in the humanities for my book The Modulated Scream: Pain in Medieval Culture (Chicago, 2010).

My research interests have been, and still are, wide-ranging. My thesis and its follow-up articles dealt with the economic impact of pilgrimages in southern France and northern Spain. Subsequently, I spent several years researching the history of crime in Paris and its surroundings, resulting in two books (The Crossroads of Justice: Law and Society in Late Medieval France Leiden: Brill, 1993, and Peaceable Domain, Certain Justice: Crime and Society in Fifteenth-Century Paris.Hilversum: Verloren, 1996). Since then, I have written a book on pain in the middle ages, covering law, theology, popular devotion, and medicine. I am presently working on the role of demons in medieval culture.
Esther Cohen
Department of History
Hebrew University Of Jerusalem
Jerusalem 95105
Humanities Building, room 6522
Tel.: 02-5883779