Call for Papers – Rethinking the Post-Gothic in Medieval Iberia

CFP: Rethinking the Post-Gothic in Medieval Iberia

Special Session, 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies
May 11-14, 2017
Organizer: Ksenia Bonch Reeves, Wright State University,

Call for proposals

Mid-eighth century Iberian chronicles famously describe post-Visigothic Spain as a landscape of ruins. The period “after the Visigoths”, which began with the Arab and Muslim invasion and settlement of the Iberian Peninsula (711) and fortuitously ended with the presumed reestablishment of the Visigothic royal bloodline in Asturias, was long considered an unfortunate stumbling block in the otherwise straightforward process of Spanish nation-building. As these foundational narratives came under scrutiny, the Iberian post-Gothic has emerged as an area of inquiry in its own right. Rather than just a hiatus, the period encompassing the Iberian eighth and ninth centuries is now being seen as a crucial one for our understanding of ideological support mechanisms of Christian survival in al-Andalus and the emergence of new centers of power and sovereignty in the post-Visigothic Iberian Peninsula.

In the newly fragmented and unstable Iberian landscape, Visigothic heritage becomes an anchor of stability and continuity, with Christian as well as Muslim ruling elites claiming Visigothic legacy. The legitimation mechanisms varied greatly, with some of the principal vehicles having been chronicle writing, royal ceremonial, construction and consecration of buildings in Asturias; oral traditions in Muslim al-Andalus; hagiography among the Mozarabs; and legislative activity in Gothic Septimania and the Hispanic March. Much of our knowledge of these mechanisms remains work in progress, but claims of Visigothic heritage are by no means consigned to the distant past. Since 2003, by sponsoring efforts to preserve a collection of Arabic manuscripts from Timbuktu, Mali, Spain has embraced the narrative of Visigothic origins put forth by manuscript owner and curator Ismael Diadié Haidara, who asserts himself to be a modern-day descendant of King Rodrigo through his ancestor, Muslim judge ‘Ali ibn Ziyad of Toledo. The involvement of the Spanish government and private entities in the support and preservation of this African library, known as the ‘Kati (‘Gothic’) Fund’, is yet another example of powerful ways in which the post-Gothic narrative continues to shape Spain’s historical mythology.

Given these new developments, how can we explain the extraordinary success of the Asturian royal myth of direct Visigothic descendancy? What was the contribution of the Mozarabs, the other, forgotten descendants of Visigoths, to the post-Visigothic Iberian theological, political, literary, and cultural landscape? What were the mechanisms by which both Iberian Christians and Muslims claimed Visigothic heritage throughout history? Which other individuals and groups legitimized themselves as descendants of Visigoths, in and outside the Iberian Peninsula, and how were these claims expressed at various times in literary, historiographical, legal, and theological testimonies, songs and folklore, theatrical works and novels, as well as art and architecture? How can we continue to critically engage with historical claims of Spain’s Visigothic origins in today’s post-national, global, and interconnected world?

Please e-mail proposals for 20-minute paper presentations to
Deadline: Thursday, September 15, 2016.

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