Director, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies; Associate Professor, Romance Languages, Middle East Studies, and Judaic Studies
I study the cultures and literatures of medieval Iberia, focusing especially on cultural interaction, exchange, and conflict. My interests converge around the concept of translation (of languages, alphabets, styles, beliefs, identities, and ideas) as a tool for defining the relations between Jews, Muslims, and Christians. I am particularly interested in conversion as a vehicle for exchange (real and imagined) between disparate groups, as well as in modern scholarly debates about how to frame the history and criticism of Medieval Iberia and its cultures (One, two, or three cultures? Conquest or reconquest? Spanish or Iberian? Tolerance or persecution?). I focus much of my research on polemics (disputes and arguments) between different religious groups, and I have published studies on figures as King Alfonso X "the Wise," Ramon Llull, Ramon Martí, Abner of Burgos (Alfonso of Valladolid), Anselm Turmeda ('Abdallah al-Tarjuman), Solomon Halevi (Pablo de Santa María), and Juan Andrés, among others.
I am the author of a book on narratives of religious conversion and their function within polemical writing in the 12th to the 15th centuries, the editor of a book on medieval exegesis and cross-cultural contact and polemics, and co-editor of books on medieval polemics in Iberia and medieval astrolabes. I am now working on a project on the polemics against Islam in sixteenth-century Spain and am at the beginning stages of a monograph on the intersection of translation and discourses of genealogy and filial piety in Castile during the reign of Alfonso X the Learned and the subsequent four kings (1252–1369). I have recently completed a documentary film about Alfonso X and his impact (https://birth-of-spanish.rll.lsa.umich.edu).
I am currently participating in two group projects funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy: “Fuentes medievales y modernas para el estudio de las relaciones transculturales en el Mediterráneo: redacción y transmisión.” (FFI2015-63659-C2-1-P MINECO/FEDER) ; and “Controversia religiosa renacentista: Los catecismos para la conversión de musulmanes en la España del siglo XVI.” (GC2018-093472-A-C33 (MINECO). I am also currently a member of the research group "Islamolatina" based at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (http://grupsderecerca.uab.cat/islamolatina/) and a collaborating member of IEMYRhd (Instituto de Estudios Medievales y Renacentistas y de Humanidades Digitales) at the University of Salamanca.