|Contact:||Helen Damico 277-7448 or
Carolyn Gonzales 277-5920
March 6, 2001
UNM LECTURE SERIES TO FOCUS ON MEDIEVAL SPAIN
The University of New Mexico Institute for Medieval Studies presents its 16th
annual spring lecture series Monday, March 19 through Thursday, March 22. Titled
"Medieval Spain: Land of Three Cultures," the series brings international
experts to address topics such as music, sculpture, art, medieval science and
All lectures will be held in Woodward Hall room 101 and are free and open to
"Seven separate lectures are offered, providing an extensive picture of
the interaction of Spain's three cultures and religions: Arabic/Islamic, European/Christian
and Hebrew/Jewish," says Helen Damico, director, Institute for Medieval
Studies. Some of the focus areas for the lectures are musical traditions, manuscript
art, scientific traditions and exchange between cultures as well as artistic
and architectural achievements.
The Iberian Peninsula - Spain and Portugal, and most of Western Europe, was
invaded many times through the Middle Ages. After the fall of the Western Roman
Empire in the fifth century, Iberia experienced its most significant invasion,
that of the Muslim people who first came as invading armies and later as settlers
who called their kingdom al-Andalus.
The Arabic rule began with the conquest of 711 and lasted in some areas of
Spain until the Spanish Christian Reconquest in 1492, under Ferdinand and Isabella.
"During those 700 years, the peninsula was home to often conflicting but
also intensely interactive cultures, the Islamic, the Christian and the Jewish,
whose interwoven fates during this period can still be seen in the literary
and artistic legacy they left to us in architecture, art, mathematics, philosophy,
science and literature. Those achievements set the cultural level of medieval
Spain and Portugal far above that of the west of western Europe," says
The abilities and traditions of medieval Iberia's three religious cultures
gave us such achievements as the Alhambra, the Cantigas de Santa María
and the music of the Sephardic Jews. "While we should not underestimate
the tensions and struggles of this multifarious Iberian culture, its ability
to bring different groups together productively offers an important instance
of tolerance and multiculturalism in an age often remembered for its oppressive
intolerance," says Damico.
Monday, March 19, 7 p.m. "Frontier Society in the Land of Three Religions: Medieval Spain Before the Discovery of America," presented by Joseph F. O'Callaghan
O'Callaghan, a Fulbright scholar from Fordham University and one of the leading
scholars of medieval Spain in the United States, offers a perspective of Spain
as a frontier land divided between the Muslims and Christians during the medieval
age. He will describe the Muslims in power over the Christians and Jews until
the late 12th century when the balance of power shifted in favor of the Christians.
He will present evidence of the interactions of the three groups and how Muslim
and Jewish philosophy influenced western Christian philosophy.
Tuesday, March 20, 3:30 p.m. "Alfonso X, the Learned, and the Cantigas
de Santa María: A Personal Testament," presented by Joseph O'Callaghan.
The Cantigas de Santa María, a collection of miracle stories from Europe,
is a personal testament of King Alfonso X of Castile, known as el sabio, the
Wise or the Learned. O'Callaghan will discuss Alfonso's declaration that he
was Mary's troubadour and that he chose Mary as his advocate before the judgment
seat of God in the hope that she would help him gain eternal salvation. Alfonso
gathered more than 400 cantigas written in verse and accompanied by musical
annotation and colorful illustrations. O'Callaghan will describe how the king
turned to the Virgin Mary for consolation and protection and that he believed
he would triumph over his enemies and be saved from the fires of hell.
Tuesday, March, 20 7. p.m. "Nationalism and Internationalism in the Art
of Reconquest Spain," presented by Elizabeth Valdez del Alamo.
Valdez del Alamo, a specialist in the art of medieval Spain, is an associate
professor of Art History in the Department of Fine Arts at Montclair State University
in New Jersey. She will discuss how the Iberian peninsula, because of its position
west of Europe and the Mediterranean, was in contact with Europe, North Africa
and the Near East, all areas of multiple cultures. Valdez del Alamo will illustrate
the ways the art of medieval Spain embodied the political and spiritual needs
of its populace. Emphasis will be placed on Christian art, particularly on the
royal promotion of the cult of saints.
Wednesday, March 21, 4 p.m. "The Transmission of Arabic Science in Latin
and Hebrew," presented by Thomas F. Glick.
Glick, professor of history and director of the Institute for Medieval History
at Boston University, is a trained Arabist specifically in the areas of the
transmission of science, technology and institutions from the Muslim world to
Christian Europe via medieval Spain.
Glick will explain how Greek science and philosophy was translated into Arabic
in the ninth and 10th centuries and that this was the start of a cultural movement
in the 12th and 13th centuries when the same body of knowledge, added to by
the Arabs, was translated into Latin and the Romance Languages, primarily in
Spain. Glick will present ideas about the important social and political motives
Wednesday, March 21, 7 p.m. "Women and Musical Transmission in Jewish,
Christian and Islamic Cultures," presented by Judith Cohen.
Cohen, a scholar and performer of Sephardic music and a member of the graduate
faculty at York University in Toronto, discusses how the multiculturalism of
medieval Iberia led to both the exchange of ideas in science and philosophy
as well as the intermingling of musical forms and traditions. Cohen will address
women's roles in musical transmission in all three cultures of medieval Iberia.
Thursday, March 22, 3:30 p.m. "Music of Spanish Borderlands," presented
by Judith Cohen.
Cohen continues the discussion of the intermingling of musical forms and traditions
and addresses the ethnomusicology of Crypto-Jewish border regions in Portugal
and Spain and how the music had its origins in the culture and diversity that
defined medieval Iberia.
Thursday, March 22, 7 p.m. "The Royal Palaces of the Alhambra and Cultural
Identity," presented by Eva Hoffman.
The final lecture focuses on one of the greatest monuments to medieval Islamic
architecture in the world, the Alhambra, the most well known monument in Spain.
Hoffman, assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Tufts
University and teacher of Islamic art, Orientalism and portable arts, describes
the Alhambra as an example of 14th century Islamic court art and how the Alhambra
exploits the two essential components of Islamic art - calligraphy and ornament.
"The multiple cultures of medieval Spain, and their interaction, was intensely productive. It reminds us of what is possible in a society that is able to welcome, value and make use of the varied contributions of its people, rather than limiting cultural participation on the basis of race or religion," says Damico.
# # #
Please let us know what you thought of this article. Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
of New Mexico
Public Affairs Department
Hodgin Hall, 2nd floor
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0011
Telephone: (505) 277-5813
Fax: (505) 277-1981