MAA News – From the President

Who publishes in Speculum? The authors contributing articles to the July issue give a sense of the range of medievalists whose work is featured in our flagship journal. They include early career scholars—one a lecturer, the other an assistant professor—as well as seasoned researchers. They are international: one from Spain, two from Israel, two from the United States, and a US citizen who holds a faculty position in Europe. And their careers point to the diversity and strengths of our field.

Think they are all products of the Ivy League? Think again! Three of the four trained in North America earned their doctorates in public universities: Linda G. Jones earned her PhD at UC Santa Barbara, Yanay Israeli completed his at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Donald N. Tuten earned his at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Pamela A. Patton did her doctoral work at Boston University. Scorecard: Ivys 0, non-Ivys 4.

Two have a particular dedication to teaching Spanish in all its forms. Tuten and his co-author María Jesús Torrens-Álvarez’s contribution to Speculum is a good example of their valorization of language as a living, changing medium. They use the Latin-Romance hybrid documents of an early thirteenth-century scribe in Burgos to argue that he and his peers worked within a monolingual culture characterized by spectroglossia that developed in response to significant socio-cultural changes. Torrens-Álvarez also contributed to a public digital-humanities project mapping diachronically the development of Spanish in Madrid (ALDICAM) and Tuten has edited five editions of the intermediate Spanish textbook, Fuentes: Lectura y redaccion, which highlights Hispanic cultures and societies. Their collaboration developed from reading one another’s work and meeting for deeper conversations at conferences.

Collaborative research is also showcased in the article opening this themed issue. Yosi Yisraeli and Yanay Israeli met for coffee when both arrived at Hebrew University, Yosi on a post-doc and Yanay as a new assistant professor. It didn’t take long for them to discover that they were both working on use of the term converso/neophyte in medieval Iberia, but in very different kinds of sources. That conversation over coffee led to a friendship as well as their article. Their contribution leverages the range of sources each commands to recover fifteenth-century debates over the meaning of the category “converso.” In their nuanced analysis of this term’s contestation, they link broader interpretations of the meaning of conversion to deployments of this fraught label. Over the course of their collaboration Yosi has advanced to lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Yanay is in transition this summer from Hebrew University to a new position as assistant professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.

The diverse and non-linear paths of Speculum authors also highlights the many ways medievalists prove their indispensability. Pamela A. Patton began her career in a split position, half-time as a Curator of Spanish Art at the Meadows Museum and half-time as an assistant professor in art history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She went on to teach full-time, rising through the ranks until she chaired her department at SMU. She now directs the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton. Her article on the depiction of enslaved people in late medieval Iberian manuscripts reveals how iconographical research is still a potent tool in exploring ideas and the ideological work that images accomplish. Torrens-Álvarez also left full-time teaching to direct scholarly projects. She is Senior Scientist (Científica Titular) at Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid where she oversees a project on the linguistic development of northern Castilian over the Middle Ages.

The issue also highlights opportunities for Americans abroad. Linda G. Jones is a UC all-star: after completing a B.A. and M.A. in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Berkeley, she worked in New York publishing houses and in the non-profit sector (Amnesty International) before returning to the UC to earn both an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Santa Barbara. Early in her career, Dr. Jones welcomed opportunities to collaborate with Spanish scholars on research projects; perseverance and the relationships she built led to the faculty position she holds now as Professor of Medieval History and Islamic Studies at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. Her article in July’s Speculum is a comparative study of Muslim and Christian hegemonic masculinities through the evidence of two twelfth-century Iberian dynastic chronicles. She explores the roles of religion and status in constituting masculinities with particular attention to relations between sovereigns, their allies. and their foes.

Want to learn more? Register HERE for the free Speculum Webinar on “Emerging Issues in Medieval Iberian Studies,” 25 August 12 noon to 3:30 pm EDT. All the contributing authors will give 10-minute TED-style presentations of their articles and answer your questions in the Q&A session. If you can’t make the day and time, look for the recording on the Academy’s YouTube channel:

Finally, congratulations to our authors and to the entire Speculum team on the publication of this superb thematic issue!

Maureen C. Miller
President, Medieval Academy of America

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