In this forty minutes long interview, Christpher Mielke talks with Marianna Birnbaum of UCLA and visiting professor at CEU about Hungarian Renaissance literature, Jews in the Renaissance, studying women in history, and more broadly about how it is to deal with individual life stories as historians. 

What were the main currents of Renaissance literature? Who were the main figures of Hungarian Renaissance poetry? How does a historian approach literary figures? 

In the first part of this interview, Marianna Birnbaum talks about Humanist literature, how books circulated in Renaissance Europe, and how Humanists approached Hebrew language and culture. 

The second part concerns a 16th century Portugese woman called Gracia Mendes. Why is she interesting, and how was she related to the famous Fuggers, a Jewish banker family? How did she come to manage this vast economic enterprise and why did she emigrate to the Turkish Empire? 

The third part of the interview is related to 18th century figure Fromet Mendelssohn, wife of the great philospher Moses Mendelssohn. How did she contribute to the intellectual milieu of the Jewish Enlightenment? What are the sources that can tell us about her life? 

Past Perfect! is CEU Medieval Radio’s show on medieval and early modern history and culture, where Christopher Mielke casually discusses with his guests various issues from the crusades to archeo-zoology to medieval urine sampling. The discussions are made with the aim to popularize medieval and early modern studies with the help of experts such as early musicians, historians, philologists and archeologists.

This episode was first recorded and broadcast in 2013.