Medieval Spanish Literature Outside the Box


This is a course for all those who are interested in medieval literature and, at the same time engaged with contemporary social, political, ethical, and aesthetic issues. We will look at how medieval literature was, indeed, contemporary literature in its own time, and how it can speak to us in our times.


In this course, we are going to enjoy reading and discussing some canonical literary texts from the Iberian Peninsula (that we may call Spain and Portugal sometimes). We will discuss these themes among others:

  1. Multilingualism and tongue trading
  2. differences of faith or religion,
  3. problems regarding coexistence, tolerance, and convivencia,
  4. race,
  5. gender,
  6. frontiers,
  7. transactions across borderlines,
  8. forms of exclusion and strategies of inclusion,
  9. why would Medieval Iberian literatures matter to us, 21stcentury citizens?
  10. Fill in the blank.

We will base most of our work on the close reading of our primary sources, that we will complement with secondary literature.

Research workshops

We will hold five research workshops on:

  1. Al-Andalus
  2. Aljamiado literature; that is, Spanish literature written in the Arabic script (we will  learn the Arabic script and see what we can do with it)
  3. Visual arts and literature
  4. Music and poetry
  5. Women writers in the Middle Ages, inside and outside the Iberian Peninsula

In these workshops we will have an opportunity to delve further into these themes, while we explore and come up with new research projects and ideas. You can use these workshops to develop at the same time a sense of collective research, an idea for a final paper, and maybe even an article to submit to Portales.

In addition to these workshops, students will be required to blog about their research throughout the course. We will explore blogging techniques so that our posts are, at the same time, enjoyable and profitable from an intellectual perspective. A blog (EdBlogs) for this site has already been set up.

Do not hesitate to contact the instructor with questions:

Colloquium and Final Paper

Each student will produce a 4,000 word-long final paper. Students will need to figure out their research project for the final paper early in the semester. They should use the blog feature (to be announced) to start posting about it, so that they can work on their ideas from early on.

During the colloquium, the day of our final session, students will be able to present for five minutes on their research project and final paper.

Expectations and Grading

Students will be required to participate in class in different ways: reading the materials, preparing for the presentations, and expressing their reasoned interpretations during class, generating and contributing to the ongoing debates based on our readings and interpretations, and actively working in the workshops, presentations, and responses, as well as in-class group discussions to consider and clarify concepts and ideas from our readings.

  • Participation 20%
  • Workshops and blogs 30%
  • Final paper / colloquium 50%

Students work will be assessed and graded throughout the semester. Blog posts will be commented, and the instructor will provide the students with graded feedback. Students will have a midterm grade, along with feedback from the instructor.

Last Updated 3 years ago


The course is cross-listed with ICLS. Our discussions will take place in Spanish, so you should feel comfortable speaking the language. You can write in whatever language you prefer --although, of course, this would be a great opportunity for you to improve your written Spanish.