Despite the importance of the Mediterranean Sea, much literary scholarship of the twentieth century has fixed its gaze on the ports and hinterlands that mark only the beginning and end of maritime travel. My research responds to this lacuna by investigating medieval tales of the sea and seafaring produced by authors of the diverse linguistic and confessional communities that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. These historical groups not only thrived on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, but many of them braved its depths, in turn creating complex networks of cultural exchange. And as the authors and subjects of these texts adhered to different faiths and wrote in several languages, the tales they tell reveal not only the rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean, but a complex space of cross-cultural contact and exchange. Real or imagined, the tales these authors tell are of importance to our understanding of a diverse people and a rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean. Written in Hebrew, Arabic, and Romance, by and for kings, clerics and exiles, the authors whose work I explore reveal a space of constantly shifting geographical boundaries, political frontiers, and religious identities. But before the protagonists of their tales arrive at port, wreck into land, or are swallowed by the sea, each entices us to consider their point of view, a perspective from amidst the tumultuous waves. I hope to demonstrate through a reading and examination of these texts, both individually and together, how the Mediterranean offers us a reorientation of critical perspective which expands the traditional national literature approach of Spanish Studies to include aspects of Jewish and Arabic history and literature, as well as the contingency of discrete cultural production that cannot be erased by an overgeneralized category of "the Mediterranean." A such, I hope to show how Iberia, as a space of multiplicity, may be viewed as emblematic of Mediterranean Studies as currently articulated. Thus we may explore how Iberian cultural production participates in--and is a product of--a more broadly conceived and shared Mediterranean space of cross-cultural contact and intellectual exchange.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2013. Major: Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Linguistics. Advisor: Michelle Hamilton. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 307 pages.
Imagining the Mediterranean: Disruption and Connectivity in Medieval Iberian Tales of the Sea.
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