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Andalusi, Judaeo-Arabic, and Other Near Eastern Studies in Honor of Ross Brann
'His Pen and Ink are a Powerful Mirror' is a volume of collected essays in honor of Ross Brann, written by his students and friends on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The essays engage with a diverse range of Andalusi and Mediterranean literature, art, and history. Each essay begins from the organic hybridity of Andalusi literary and cultural history as its point of departure, introduce new texts, ideas, and objects into the disciplinary conversation or radically reassesses well-known ones, and represent the theoretical, methodological, and material impacts Brann has had and continues to have on the study of the literature and culture of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in al-Andalus.

Contributors include: Ali Humayn Akhtar, Esperanza Alfonso, Peter Cole, Jonathan Decter, Elisabeth Hollender, Uriah Kfir, S.J. Pearce, F.E. Peters, Arturo Prats, Cynthia Robinson, Tova Rosen, Aurora Salvatierra, Raymond P. Scheindlin, Jessica Streit, David Torollo.

Abstract

This essay explores, through the lens of Nasrid poets’ frequent evocations of the lands of Najd, Nasrid culture’s constructions of relationships with the origins of Islam, the origins of poetry, and the origins of the Arabic language itself; it argues that these elements are an integral part of the Nasrid dynasty’s claims to legitimacy in the realms of court, cultural production, and devotion.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'

Abstract

This article reflects on the transmission process of the literary texts which conform the corpus of the fifteenth century Hebrew cancioneros, and on the difficulties which come across facing the elaboration of an actual critical edition of those contents. These considerations came from coping with the critical edition of Shelomo Bonafed’s production which is going to be published next year. Most of these texts are still unedited or unpublished.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'

Abstract

This paper aims to deal with a layer in the history of the medieval reception and transmission of the headings of the Psalms. Taking as a main focus the glossary-commentary to Psalms included in MS Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hunt. 268, it explores the relationship between the vernacular glosses in this text and medieval and postmedieval translations of the Hebrew Bible into Castilian.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'

Abstract

The protagonist of Judah al-Harizi’s Taḥkemoni is usually thought of as an amoral trickster, but this characterization does not apply to many of his appearances in the book, in which religion plays a much larger part than is usually thought. This article calls attention to Hever’s religious dimension and to other aspects of religion in the book.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'
Author: S.J. Pearce

Abstract

This paper offers a reading of an unpublished essay by Yehuda Amichai written when he was a student of medieval Hebrew poetry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in a seminar taught by Ḥayim Schirmann. His essay takes a comparative approach to the war poetry of Samuel ibn Naghrīla, making both sweeping claims about war poetry across time and space narrower ones about the specific qualities of poetry written in war contexts in Spain in all of its languages. Although Amichai hews closely to Schirmann’s interpretive line he goes farther than his professor does, arguing that not only does Ibn Naghrīla consolidate his roles in both the Jewish and Muslim communities in Granada through his poetry, he does so in a way that sublimates religion to other concerns; in doing so, Amichai begins to pave the way for the kind of poetic nationalism that would emerge in his own later work.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'
Author: Peter Cole

Abstract

This paper is a new translation of three Hebrew poems composed in medieval Spain.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'
Author: F.E. Peters

Abstract

The “quest of the historical Jesus,” like other such probes of the pre-modern world, is a progression that begins with the performing subject, Jesus of Nazareth; whose words and deeds pass into the memories of those of his followers who witnessed his life and heard his words and shared them with others; the oral transmission of those memories though a succession of tradents; their passage into literary form, in this instance, the Gospel According to Mark; which comes to the historian in the form of a manu-script, a document hand-copied again and again over the centuries, as the evidence for the message and meaning of Jesus of Nazareth. The entire sequence is fraught, but this essay looks more closely at its most problematic phases, the three of so decade passage from what Jesus did and said to the earliest Gospel, that “according to Mark.”

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'
In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'
Author: Ali H. Akhtar

Abstract

This article asks how political administrations in the age of empires historically conceptualized political borders and the legal process of naturalization. It specifically examines the legal status of two groups of Ottoman imperial subjects—the Genoese-heritage Latin-rite residents of Istanbul and the Sephardi residents who settled throughout Istanbul and the Aegean. In periods of limited territorial expansion, in what ways did the naturalization of itinerant merchant communities become a mechanism for imperial governments to extend their political boundaries? As individuals within merchant communities began to straddle the jurisdictions of competing polities, to what extent did administrators either loosen or reinforce those political boundaries and why? One of the phenomena this article identifies is that during the history of economic competition between the Italian republics and the Ottoman sultanate, Ottoman administrators leveraged privileges in residency, movement, and customs duties in order to pull itinerant Genoese and Sephardi merchants into the Ottoman imperial realm and, in effect, expand the empire’s socio-spatial reach.

In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'