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Dreaming al-Andalus : nineteenth-century representations of Spain's Muslim and Jewish past

(2017)
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(UGent)
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Abstract
Al-Andalus is the name given to the period of Muslim rule in Spain, which began in 711 and definitively came to an end with the Christian re-conquest of Granada in 1492. But in a broader sense, al-Andalus describes the whole history of contact and coexistence among Christians, Muslim and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula. This history has left a legacy in Spanish culture, the implications of which are still under debate. This thesis seeks to examine this legacy in nineteenth-century literature, by tracing representations of al-Andalus in historical novels, short stories and theatrical works of the period. It argues that writers of the period turned to al-Andalus, as an important historical myth, in order to express a number of contemporary concerns. The nineteenth century in Spain was a turbulent one, as the country navigated a series of political crises: Napoleon’s invasion in 1808, attempts to establish a liberal and constitutional regime, the return of absolutism and the loss of empire in America. These events, along with the tenets of Romanticism, led Spanish intellectuals to question the national past and raise questions about Spanish identity. Through the critical analysis of portrayals of Jewish and Muslim characters in texts of the period, this thesis demonstrates how the metaphorical use of al-Andalus allowed writers to grapple with the events described above. It also shows how the memory of the Jewish and Muslim past played an important role in shaping discourses of nationalism. The thesis reveals that representations of al-Andalus were not monolithic: Spanish writers did not simply accept or reject the Muslim and Jewish past. Rather, responses to the Muslim and Jewish past reflect the wide range of political projects or aesthetic interests of authors of the nineteenth century. It also suggests that nineteenth-century writers relied heavily on archetypes from earlier periods, such as the Spanish Golden Age. Yet it shows, too, that foreign representations of the Other, particularly those promoted by Orientalism, informed Spanish depictions of its own past. This thesis seeks to fill a lacuna in existing scholarship on al-Andalus and to contribute, more generally, to a better understanding of the literature of nineteenth-century Spain. Although some studies on the representation of al-Andalus in the period do exist, their focus tends to be of a historical or anthropological nature. Moreover, where critics have looked more closely at literary manifestations, they have tended to concentrate on a limited number of well-known texts by the period’s more famous authors. Yet little attention has been paid to the vast wealth of material by lesser-known writers, in which al-Andalus is an important theme. This study, with its large and varied corpus, aims to correct this oversight.

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Chicago
Yoeli Rimmer, Nettah. 2017. “Dreaming al-Andalus : Nineteenth-century Representations of Spain’s Muslim and Jewish Past”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy.
APA
Yoeli Rimmer, N. (2017). Dreaming al-Andalus : nineteenth-century representations of Spain’s Muslim and Jewish past. Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent, Belgium.
Vancouver
1.
Yoeli Rimmer N. Dreaming al-Andalus : nineteenth-century representations of Spain’s Muslim and Jewish past. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy; 2017.
MLA
Yoeli Rimmer, Nettah. “Dreaming al-Andalus : Nineteenth-century Representations of Spain’s Muslim and Jewish Past.” 2017 : n. pag. Print.
@phdthesis{8532391,
  abstract     = {Al-Andalus is the name given to the period of Muslim rule in Spain, which began in 711 and definitively came to an end with the Christian re-conquest of Granada in 1492. But in a broader sense, al-Andalus describes the whole history of contact and coexistence among Christians, Muslim and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula. This history has left a legacy in Spanish culture, the implications of which are still under debate. This thesis seeks to examine this legacy in nineteenth-century literature, by tracing representations of al-Andalus in historical novels, short stories and theatrical works of the period. It argues that writers of the period turned to al-Andalus, as an important historical myth, in order to express a number of contemporary concerns. The nineteenth century in Spain was a turbulent one, as the country navigated a series of political crises: Napoleon{\textquoteright}s invasion in 1808, attempts to establish a liberal and constitutional regime, the return of absolutism and the loss of empire in America.
These events, along with the tenets of Romanticism, led Spanish intellectuals to question the national past and raise questions about Spanish identity. Through the critical analysis of portrayals of Jewish and Muslim characters in texts of the period, this thesis demonstrates how the metaphorical use of al-Andalus allowed writers to grapple with the events described above. It also shows how the memory of the Jewish and Muslim past played an important role in shaping discourses of nationalism. The thesis reveals that representations of al-Andalus were not monolithic: Spanish writers did not simply accept or reject the Muslim and Jewish past. Rather, responses to the Muslim and Jewish past reflect the wide range of political projects or aesthetic interests of authors of the nineteenth century. It also suggests that nineteenth-century writers relied heavily on archetypes from earlier periods, such as the Spanish Golden Age. Yet it shows, too, that foreign representations of the Other, particularly those promoted by Orientalism, informed Spanish depictions of its own past. 
This thesis seeks to fill a lacuna in existing scholarship on al-Andalus and to contribute, more generally, to a better understanding of the literature of nineteenth-century Spain. Although some studies on the representation of al-Andalus in the period do exist, their focus tends to be of a historical or anthropological nature. Moreover, where critics have looked more closely at literary manifestations, they have tended to concentrate on a limited number of well-known texts by the period{\textquoteright}s more famous authors. Yet little attention has been paid to the vast wealth of material by lesser-known writers, in which al-Andalus is an important theme. This study, with its large and varied corpus, aims to correct this oversight.},
  author       = {Yoeli Rimmer, Nettah},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {IX, 143},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Dreaming al-Andalus : nineteenth-century representations of Spain's Muslim and Jewish past},
  year         = {2017},
}