A Sea of Languages: Rethinking the Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History

A Sea of Languages: Rethinking the Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History

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Edited by Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Karla Mallette
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
328 Pages
ISBN 9780802098689
Published Jul 2013
Online discount: 30%
 $70.00    $49.00
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442663404
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 30%
Full purchase $70.00

Medieval European literature was once thought to have been isolationist in its nature, but recent scholarship has revealed the ways in which Spanish and Italian authors – including Cervantes and Marco Polo – were influenced by Arabic poetry, music, and philosophy.  A Sea of Languages brings together some of the most influential scholars working in Muslim-Christian-Jewish cultural communications today to discuss the convergence of the literary, social, and economic histories of the medieval Mediterranean.

This volume takes as a starting point María Rosa Menocal's groundbreaking work The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History, a major catalyst in the reconsideration of prevailing assumptions regarding the insularity of medieval European literature. Reframing ongoing debates within literary studies in dynamic new ways, A Sea of Languages will become a critical resource and reference point for a new generation of scholars and students on the intersection of Arabic and European literature.

Suzanne Conklin Akbari is a professor in the Department of English and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.

Karla Mallette is an associate professor in the Departments of Italian and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan.


Introduction: The Persistence of Philology: Language and Connectivity in the Mediterranean - Suzanne Conklin Akbari (University of Toronto).

Philology in the Mediterranean

 Beyond Philology: Cross-Cultural Engagement in Literary History and Beyond - Sharon Kinoshita (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Linguistic Difference, the Philology of Romance, and the Romance of Philology - Simon Gaunt (King's College London)

Forging New Paradigms: Towards a History of Islamo-Christian Civilization - John Tolan (University of Nantes)

Reflections on Muslim Hebraism: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus and al-Biqa‘i - Walid A. Saleh (University of Toronto)

‘Mixing the East with the West’: Cosmopolitan Philology in Richard Burton’s Translations from Camões - Paulo Lemos Horta (New York University, Abu Dhabi)

 Reading Backward: The Thousand and One Nights and Philological Practice - Karla Mallette (University of Michigan)

The cosmopolitan frontier: Andalusi case studies

Andalusi ‘Exceptionalism - Ross Brann (Cornell University)

The Convivencia Wars: Decoding Historiography’s Polemic with Philology  - Ryan Szpiech (University of Michigan)

‘In One of My Body’s Gardens’: Hearts in Transformation in Late Medieval Iberian Passion Devotions  - Cynthia Robinson (Cornell University)

Contacts, Influences, and Hybridization: Rethinking the History of Medieval Music in the Iberian Peninsula - Dwight Reynolds (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Sicilian Poets in Seville: Literary Affinities across Political Boundaries - William Granara (Harvard University)

Efer ve-Dinah between Hebrew and Romance - David Wacks (University of Oregon)

 The Shadow of Islam in Cervantes’ ‘El Licenciado Vidriera’ - Leyla Rouhi (Williams College)

‘The Finest Flowering’: Poetry, History, and Medieval Spain in the Twenty-First Century - María Rosa Menocal (Yale University)

Boustrophedon: Toward a Literary Theory of the Mediterranean - Karla Mallette (University of Michigan)

Primary bibliography

Secondary bibliography

A Sea of Languages is an important scholarly intervention, bringing together brilliant recent work in a fascinating field to model how future methodologies and areas of study might profitably be nurtured. Featuring contributions from prominent scholars who command respect within and across their fields, it is a magisterial and well-unified collection without peer in the field of Mediterranean Studies.”

Christine Chism, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles

“A serious advance in a burgeoning field, A Sea of Languages offers a wonderful array of approaches to address a major topic: the Arabic presence in medieval literary and cultural history. This excellent volume will be a touchstone in the field and a valuable collection for both scholars and students.”

Martin G. Eisner, Department of Romance Studies, Duke University