David A. Wacks deposited An Interstitial History of Medieval Iberian Poetry in the group Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History, Literature, and Culture on AJS Commons 2 years, 4 months ago
The complexity of Medieval Iberia’s linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity is a commonplace. Descriptions abound of the lands that are now modern Spain and Portugal as a “melting pot” or a “multicultural” space. However, modern literary history, with its tendency toward monolingual, national narratives, has produced a vision of medieval Iberia that often makes it out as, in the words of María Rosa Menocal, “the primitive stages of what will eventually become the real thing.” The literary evidence of the poetic traditions looks quite different. It shows us a poetic culture that drew on several linguistic and regional traditions, and that was characterized far more by bilingualism, diglossia, and artistic crossings than by anything approaching a monolingual sense of national culture. In this essay I will examine the interstices of these crossings in a series of examples of the poetic cultures of medieval Iberia: the adaptation of popular Romance and colloquial Andalusi Arabic lyric by poets working in Classical Arabic and Hebrew (10th-13th c.), the adaptation of classical Arabic poetics by Andalusi Hebrew poets (10th-14th c.), the diffusion of Provençal and Galician-Portuguese poetics throughout the Peninsula (12th-13th c.), Jewish authors’ adaptations of Romance language poetics (14th-15th c.), and the phenomenon of Aljamiado poetry, Ibero-Romance verses written in Arabic characters by crypto-Muslim writers in the 15th and 16th centuries.