13th Century Spanish Manuscript

Al-Andalus: Tolerance, Culture, and Violence

Instructor: Rachel Stein

Muslim Spain, or al-Andalus, still holds a powerful grip on the modern imagination as a time and place of religious tolerance—a “golden age” in which Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted and thrived under Islamic governments ruling over swaths of the Iberian Peninsula from the eighth century to the fifteenth. In this course we will explore this common perception of al-Andalus by examining primary sources produced by Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Spain that bear witness to inter- and intra-faith relations: poetry, treatises, laws, chronicles, architecture, and manuscripts. We will ask: What was the relationship between religion, language, and culture in the societies of al-Andalus? And to what extent should we use past societies like those of al-Andalus as mirrors or models to think through the present?

From the Pact of Umar to the Mosque of Cordoba, Inquisitorial inquiries, and writings by luminaries such as Ibn Hazm, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Maimonides, and Alfonso X, course materials will serve as roadmaps to discuss questions that transcend the discrete context of medieval Spain: What is tolerance, exactly, and what are the requirements for its existence? Is “tolerance” actually a value to be revered? How can we account for and theorize instances of violence in religiously “tolerant” societies? How do individuals of different communities define and align themselves in pluralistic social, political, and cultural landscapes? Primary sources will be complemented by more recent scholarly work surrounding the concept of convivencia (“living-togetherness”) by authors such as as Maria Rosa Menocal and David Nirenberg.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
July 05 — July 26, 2017
4 weeks


Registration Open

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