Senior Seminar: Convivencia or Reconquista? Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Medieval Iberia
This seminar will explore various facets of the coexistence (convivencia) of Muslims, Jews, and Christians in medieval Spain. Its horizon stretches from the Muslim conquest of Iberia (al-Andalus) up to the turn of the 16th century when Spanish Jews and Muslims were equally faced with the choice between exile and conversion to Christianity. Until about 1100, Muslims dominated most of the Iberian Peninsula; from then onward, Christians ruled much and eventually all of what would become modern Spain and Portugal. Through a process known as reconquista (reconquest), Catholic kingdoms acquired large Muslim enclaves. As borders moved, Jewish communities found themselves under varying Muslim or Christian dominion. Interactions between the three religious communities occurred throughout, some characterized by shared creativity and mutual respect, others by rivalry and strife. The course focuses on these cultural encounters, placing them in various historical contexts. It will explore the ambiguities of religious conversion, and the interplay of persecution and toleration. Last not least, the course will address the question of how the memory of medieval Spain's diversity reverberates-and is utilized-in modern popular and academic discourse. All sources will be read in English translation; however, students are encouraged to make use of their linguistic and cultural expertise acquired in previous classes. NOTE: This course serves as the capstone seminar for Jewish, Islamic & Near Eastern Studies majors, Arabic majors, and Hebrew majors. Graduate students, minors, and other interested undergrads are likewise welcome.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Eth; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM