The American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR) has named Assistant Professor Joshua Teplitsky, Department of History, the winner of its 2019 Salo Baron Prize for his book, Prince of the Press: How One Collector Built History’s Most Enduring and Remarkable Jewish Library (Yale University Press). The Baron Prize, awarded annually for the best first book in Jewish studies, honors the memory of the distinguished historian Salo W. Baron, a long-time president of the AAJR, who taught at Columbia University for many decades. It is one of the signal honors that can be bestowed on a young scholar in Jewish Studies and a sign of the excellence, vitality and creativity of the field.
Prince of the Press is an exploration of premodern Jewish life across its political, cultural and intellectual dimensions. According to the AAJR, Teplitsky’s study “demonstrates clearly how books can be powerful registers of identity and advances our understanding of book history in all of its manifestations: book and manuscript acquisition practices, the materiality of books, book printing, and the various ways that users interacted with their book and actively shaped their contents.”
Teplitsky received his PhD from New York University. His work focuses on Jewish history in Central Europe in the early modern period (16th–18th centuries) with an emphasis on the city of Prague. Teplitsky studies the relationship between Jews and their surrounding societies — as well as the social, cultural and intellectual exchanges between Jews and Christians. He is also an expert on the study of books, printing, media and digital humanities. He is currently at work writing a book about epidemics in history, and their impact on the lives of Jews as a minority in pre-modern Europe.
The American Academy for Jewish Research is the oldest professional organization of Judaica scholars in North America. Its membership represents the most senior figures in the field.