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Muslim and Jewish Cultures in the Medieval Mediterranean

An image of two men playing a game of chess.
A Jew and a Muslim playing chess in 13th century al-Andalus. El Libro de los Juegos, commissioned by Alphonse X of Castille. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

This core seminar investigates the relationship between Muslim and Jewish societies in medieval Spain, spanning from the establishment of Muslim Spain (al-Andalus) in 711 to the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 after the Christian ‘reconquest’. 

The course will analyze and assess the concept of ‘peaceful coexistence’ among the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities, referred to as convivencia, and explore the evolving dynamics of power and interconfessional relations between them. By examining primary sources such as historical chronicles, legal documents, literary texts, travelogues, and liturgy, students will explore various themes including religious and ethnic diversity, love and sexuality, religious conversion and acceptance, law and political authority, the notion of a ‘Golden Age’ of convivencia, intellectual encounters between Muslims and Jews, and their influence on Christian Europe. The course will analyze different historical perspectives on the past, with an emphasis on how the memory of medieval Spain’s history is utilized in contemporary popular and academic discourse. 

To enhance the skills of history majors in conducting historical research, writing effectively, and delivering presentations, this seminar’s assessment will include short essays analyzing primary sources and modern historical scholarship, participating in a group debate, delivering an oral presentation, and completing a research paper.

Instructor: Mehmet Karabela

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.