Postgraduate Course: Reading Texts, Reading Objects

Reading Texts, Reading Objects 3: Identity/ Authority. Studying Intercultural Contacts through Primary Sources

Postgraduate Course 2021-2022
Online (Zoom): 2, 4, 11, 16, 18, 30 Nov. 2021
18.00-20.00 CET

Organizers: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (Madrid, Spain); Interdisciplinary Platform Social & Cultural History of the Mediterranean (MEDhis,

Director: Therese Martin
Co-Director: Katarzyna Starczewska
Secretary: Verónica Abenza

This course is tailored for the needs of graduate students interested in the different types of detailed analysis of a wide range of
primary sources, both written and material. After the warm welcome received by the two previous editions of this course (CCHSCSIC,
2017 and 2018), the researchers of the Interdisciplinary Platform Social & Cultural History of the Mediterranean (MEDhis,, together with a group of national and international researchers, offer the third edition of the course. This year the theme will revolve around the issue of self-representation, understood in its
broadest sense as a strategy aimed at highlighting authority. In the written sources, literal descriptions of identity will be analyzed in order to reveal the strategies designed to establish influence over the interlocutor (reader). Special attention will be paid to religious controversy, prologues to translations, scholarly debates, and inquisitorial documents. As for the material and visual sources, objects and representations that reveal the intentionality of the promoters towards the various viewing publics will be studied.
From a detailed reading of the primary sources, the methodological tools designed to answer the following questions will be discussed: how to approach primary sources with a critical eye? How to contextualize the message they give us? What are the theoretical frameworks suitable for researching these artifacts in a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary way? How to evaluate historical “truth” of sources when written and material texts contradict each other?


Tuesday, 2 (18.00-20.00 CET)
-Amanda W. Dotseth (Meadows Museum): Telling Tales with Cross-Cultural Objects: Spanish Art in a US Collection.
-Jordi Camps (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya): El objeto representado en la pintura mural románica: Cuestiones de identificación e interpretación de los recipientes sostenidos por la figura de María.

Thursday, 4 (18.00-20.00 CET)
– Silvia Armando (John Cabot University): Ivories and Inventories for Medieval Kings and Bishops: Seeing Authority and Identity in the Treasuries of Sicily and Southern Italy.
-Verónica Abenza (CSIC-CCHS): Los marfiles de Jaca: el diálogo artístico intercultural como fuente de autoridad de la reina Felicia de Roucy.

Thursday, 11 (18.00-20.00 CET)
-Roberta Cerone (Sapienza Università di Roma): Painted Bulls for Monks and Friars. Using the Papal Auctoritas to Strengthen One’s Identity.
-Mirko Vagnoni (Université de Fribourg): Royal Images as Markers of Authority in the Kingdom of Sicily (12th- 14th Centuries).

Tuesday, 16 (18.00-20.00 CET)
-Giulia Arcidiacono (Università di Salento): A Shining Kingdom. Mosaics as a Means of Political Propaganda in Sicily (12th-14th century). Images, Rhetoric, and Ideology.
-Davide Scotto (University of Naples L’Orientale): Christian Understandings of Muslim Identity and Qur’anic Authority. Reading Juan de Segovia’s Preface to the Trilingual Qur’an (1456).

Thursday, 18 (18.00-20.00 CET)
-Miriam Bodian (University of Texas): Interpreting Inquisitorial Defendants’ Self-Descriptions: The Factual and the Strategic.
-Mercedes García-Arenal (CSIC-CCHS): Inquisición, autoridad y polémica: el proceso de Jerónimo de Rojas, morisco de Toledo (1603).

Tuesday, 30 (18.00-20.00 CET)
-Katarzyna Starczewska (CSIC-CCHS): “Aprendí sin maestro todo lo que sé sobre esta lengua”. Discursos y estrategias para reconocer a una autoridad lingüística en el aprendizaje del árabe.
-Ryan Szpiech (University of Michigan): El lenguaje de la identidad: la conversión y otras figuras lingüísticas.