David Wacks: Ethnic Polemic in Medieval Spain

Posted on August 29th, 2011 in Events

October 13, 12:15 pm- 1:30 pm, Encina Hall West, Room 208

Islamic Studies Workshop: Prof. David Wacks (University of Oregon), “Ethnic Polemic in Medieval Spain: ‘Arabiyya, Shu’ubiyya, and ‘Ibraniyya”

Abstract: As Islam expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula and incorporated neighboring cultures into Dar al-Islam, non-Arabs began to react to the doctrine of ‘Arabiyya that upheld the superiority of the Arabs and their language over Persians and other non-Arabs. Non-Arab authors reacted by writing Shu’ubiyya texts championing the lineages and cultural achievements of non-Arab Muslims and denigrating what they saw as the inferior cultural heritage and language of the Arabs. In al-Andalus, Hebrew poets and prose writers followed suit, writing for the superiority of Hebrew over Arabic as a language of literary expression (‘Ibraniyya). This trend persisted in the writings of Hebrew authors working in Christian kingdoms where Arabic was no longer a language of state or of current literary production. In this presentation I will address the question of why Hebrew writers continued to champion Hebrew over Arabic (and not Spanish or Latin) even after centuries of Christian rule.

Bio: David Wacks is Associate Professor of Spanish and Interim Head of the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon. His research interests include Medieval Iberian literature and Sephardic Jewish culture. He is author of Framing Iberia: Frametales and Maqamat in Medieval Spain (Brill, 2007) and co-editor (with Michelle Hamilton and Sarah Portnoy) of Wine, Women and Song: Hebrew and Arabic Literature in Medieval Iberia (Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 2004). He has published articles in a number of journals including Journal of Arabic Literature, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Diacritics, Sefarad, and eHumanista. He blogs on his current research and teaching at http://davidwacks.uoregon.edu.

Paper is available to Stanford affiliates upon request by email to abbasiprogram@stanford.edu. Event is co-sponsored by the Taube Center for Jewish Studies, the Mediterranean Studies Forum and the Iberian Studies Program.

Comments are closed.