Kerstin Mayerhofer



Kerstin Mayerhofer completed Slavonic Studies (Russian) and Jewish Studies at the University of Vienna. Her research focuses on Christian-Jewish relations and mechanisms of discrimination in pre-modern times, on the conceptualisation of the Jewish body, as well as on gender(s) and sexualitie(s) in Judaism. She has worked as project assistant at the Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Vienna between 2017 and 2021. Since 2018, she is working on her PhD project on the motif of Jewish ‘male menstruation’ in pre-modern Christian sources. The project is co-advised at Queen Mary University London. Kerstin Mayerhofer is co-editor of the series An End to Antisemitism! (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019–2021) and of Baron Lectures: Studies on Jewish Experience (Paderborn: Brill | Schöningh, forthcoming). Kerstin Mayerhofer is currently a Junior Fellow at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) at the University of Art and Design Linz, Austria.

Research interest: Conceptualisation of the Jewish Body; Gender concepts in the high and late middle ages, pre-modern Jew-hatred; Gender(s) and Sexualitie(s) in Judaism; Old Testament Pseudepigrapha; Old (Church) Slavonic Literatur

Current research project“… quam mulieres menstruosi sunt …” The Motif of “Jewish Male Menstruation” and its Function in High and Late Medieval (1100–1500) and Early Modern (1500–1700) Christian Sources
The aim of the project is a documentation of the pre-modern Christian discourse of Jewish hereditary inferiority based on the study of the theme of Jewish ‘Otherness’ mapped onto a diseased and distorted ‘Jewish body.’ The motif of Jewish ‘male menstruation’ is investigated as an example of how religion, physiology, sex, and gender as categories of social determination intersect to create a notion of identity and difference, which can be regarded as proto-racial. Various sources from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries report of a Jewish man afflicted with an anomalous bleeding. It is neither the result of an injury nor of a chronic illness. Rather, it is interpreted to symbolise the Jews’ religious, social and somatic difference and is subsequently equated with menstruation. In my dissertation, I scrutinise the motif of Jewish ‘male menstruation’ in sources from c. 1170 to 1500 from theological, medical, and political backgrounds. The investigation will address (a) the methods medieval and early modern authors used in establishing the motif of Jewish ‘male menstruation’ and (b) their intentions for doing so. Three additional sources from 1500 to 1700 will be examined. Their analysis (c) corroborates the understanding of Jewish ‘male menstruation’ as motif within a certain narrative and discursive frame. They will also allow to ask about (d) an author’s intention for creating and transmitting the notion of the ‘men struating’ Jew and whether this intention changed in the course of time. All of these questions shall give an idea of how the transmission of a literary figure and a literary motif as a rhetoric means simultaneously illustrates and reinforces a certain discursive ideology – of the Jews as different from and inferior to a societal norm which was essentially Christian and male.


  • “Creating an Unlike to Dislike: Constructions of Jewish Identity and Alterity in Christian Exempla Stories,” in: Rachel Blumenthal, Daniel M. Herskowitz, and Kerstin Mayerhofer, eds. Constructing and Experiencing Jewish Identity (= Baron Lectures: Studies on Jewish Experience, vol. 1). Paderborn: Brill | Schöningh, forthcoming.
  • “Inferiority Embodied: The ‘Men-struating’ Jew and Pre-Modern Notions of Identity and Difference,ˮ in: Armin Lange et. al. eds., Confronting Antisemitism through the Ages – A Historical Perspective (= An End to Antisemitism!, vol. 3). Berlin: De Gruyter 2021, 135–59. 
  • together with Armin Lange, Dina Porat and Lawrence H. Schiffman, eds. An End to Antisemitism! 5 volumes. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019–2021.