Ryan Szpiech

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Associate Professor of Spanish

Office Location(s): 4140 MLB 1275
Phone: 734.647.2334
Ryan Szpiech Homepage
View Curriculum Vitae

  • 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, 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 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 am also currently part of a five-member team, organized and led by Dr. Esperanza Alfonso at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, studying the role of the Bible in late-medieval Sephardic culture. Our project, entitled, "The Intellectual and Material Legacies of Late-Medieval Sephardic Judaism: An Interdisciplinary Approach," is supported by a four-year Starting Grant from the European Research Council, awarded to Dr. Alfonso. For more information on the project, see http://www.lineas.cchs.csic.es/inteleg/content/presentación.

    Recent and Selected Publications

    Conversion and Narrative: Reading Authority in Medieval Polemic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). 

    “Cracking the Code: Reflections on Manuscripts in the Age of Digital Books.” Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures 3.1 (2014): 76-301.

    “The Aura of an Alphabet: Gospel Citations in Hebrew in the Pugio Fidei of Ramón Martí.” Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 61, no. 4 (2014): 334-63.

    “Américo Castro, Erich Auerbach, y la ‘ciencia’ historiográfica.” In Encrucijada de culturas: Alfonso X y su tiempo. Ed. Emilio González Ferrín. Sevilla: Fundación Tres Culturas del Mediterráneo, 2014. 101–124.

    “Rhetorical Muslims: Islam as Witness in Christian Anti-Jewish Polemic.” Al-Qantara: Revista de Estudios Árabes 34.1 (2013): 153-185.

    “Preaching Paul to the Moriscos in the Confusión o confutación de la secta Mahomética y del Alcorán (1515) by Juan Andrés.” La Corónica 41.1 (2012).

    “Between Court and Call: Catalan Humanism and Hebrew Letters.” eHumanista / IVITRA  (2012): 168-84.

    “Translation, Transcription, and Transliteration in the Polemics of Raymond Martini, O.P. (d after 1284).” Book chapter in Translating the Middle Ages. Ed. Charles D. Wright and Karen Fresco. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012. 171-187.

    “Converting the Queen: Gender and Polemic in the Book of Ahitub and Salmon.” Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 3.2 (2011): 203-217.

    “Between Gender and Genre in Later-Medieval Sepharad: Love, Sex, and Polemics in Hebrew Writing From Christian Iberia.” Ed. Ryan Szpiech. Critical Cluster in Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 3.2 (2011): 119-217.

    “Latin as a Language of Authoritative Tradition.” Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature. Ed. Ralph Hexter and David Townsend. Oxford University Press. 63-85.

    “Citas árabes en caracteres hebreos en el Pugio fidei del dominico Ramón Martí: entre la autenticidad y la autoridad.” [Includes study and critical edition of the Arabic and Latin texts followed by a Castilian translation of both.] Al-Qantara: Revista de Estudios Árabes 32.1 (2011): 71-107. http://al-qantara.revistas.csic.es/index.php/al-qantara/article/view/250/244

    “In Search of Ibn Sina’s ‘Oriental Philosophy’ in Medieval Castile.” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 20 (2010): 185-206. A PDF of the text is available.

    "Scrutinizing History: Polemic and Exegesis in Pablo de Santa María's Siete edades del mundo." Medieval Encounters 16.1 (2010): 96-142. For a post-edit, pre-print pdf, see http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/64833 

    “The Convivencia Wars: Decoding Historiography’s Polemic with Philology.” In A Sea of Languages: Literature and Culture in the Pre-modern Mediterranean. Ed. Susan Akbari and Karla Malette. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (Forthcoming)

    "The Original is Unfaithful to the Translation: Conversion and Authenticity in Abner of Burgos and Anselm Turmeda." eHumanista 14 (2010): 146-177. Click here for PDF.

    "Polemical Strategy and the Rhetoric of Authority in Abner of Burgos / Alfonso of Valladolid." In Late Medieval Jewish Identities. Ed. María Esperanza Alfonso and Carmen Caballero-Navas. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010. pp. 55-76.

    “Converso Polemic in Naples: The Transmission of Pablo de Santa María’s Scrutinium Scripturarum.” In New Studies on Yale Manuscripts from the Late Antique to the Early Modern Period. New Haven, 2005. 113-128.

    Recent graduate courses taught:

    Narrating Conversion in the Medieval Mediterranean
    This Text which is not One: Five Ways of Reading the Libro de buen amor 

    Recent undergraduate courses taught:

    Introduction to Aljamiado writing
    The cultural world of Alfonso X
    Castilian Chivalry and the Libro del Caballero Zifar
    From the Cid to Cide Hamete: Representations of Muslims in Medieval and Early-Modern Iberian Literatures
    Medieval Frame-Tale Narratives
    Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Medieval Iberia
    Conversion and Conversos in Fifteenth-Century Iberian Literature
    The Literatures of Iberia 900-1700
    Originals, Copies, and Translations

  • Education
    • Ph.D. Yale University, 2006
  • Research Areas of Interest
    • Medieval Iberian Literatures, Converso Studies, Medieval Islam, Religious Polemics
  • CV
    • http://umich.academia.edu/RyanSzpiech/CurriculumVitae
  • Selected Publications:
  • Books