Ryan Szpiech

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Ryan Szpiech

Associate Professor

Office Location(s): 4140 MLB
Phone: 734.647.2334
szpiech@umich.edu
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  • About

    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. I have focused much of my research on the fourteenth-century convert Abner of Burgos (known as Alfonso of Valladolid after conversion). I recently completed a book on narratives of religious conversion and their function within polemical writing in the 12th to the 15th centuries, and I am now working on a number of smaller projects on the Dagger of Faith of the Dominican polemicist Raymond Martini and the use of Islam as a hermeneutic device by Christians in fourteenth-century anti-Jewish polemic.

    I have also participated in two team research projects in Europe studying the role of the Bible in late-medieval Sephardic culture: one led by Dr. Esperanza Alfonso at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, entitled, "The Intellectual and Material Legacies of Late-Medieval Sephardic Judaism: An Interdisciplinary Approach" (supported by a four-year Starting Grant from the European Research Council), and the other led by Dr. Javier del Barco, also at the Consejo Superior, entitled "Legacy of Sepharad: The Material and Intellectual Production of Late Medieval Sephardic Judaism" (supported by a Grant from Spain's 6th National Research, Development, and Technological Innovation Plan or “Plan National de I+D+i”). For more information, see http://www.lineas.cchs.csic.es/inteleg/content/presentación.

  • Education
    • Ph.D. Yale University, 2006
  • Research Areas of Interest
    • The Literature of Medieval Iberia, Conversion and Religious Polemic
  • Selected Publications:
  • Books