Doriane Zerka (KCL) - 2016-17 Students

Spain, A Travelling Concept: Images of Iberia in Medieval German Literature

A porous boundary zone between Europe, Africa and Asia, medieval Iberia presents a geographical and ideological challenge to post-medieval notions of “East”, “West”, “nationhood” and “Europe”. Its complex history, which intertwines Islam, Christianity and Judaism in a dialectic between Reconquista and convivencia, has been appropriated by countless writers and scholars as a means to think about individual and collective identities, religious, cultural and political. However, no broad based study has examined the appeal of Iberia to medieval German writers. My PhD analyses depictions of Iberia in medieval German literature and examines the ideological implications of real and imagined travels to Iberia. I draw on recent postcolonial approaches developed in medieval studies that elucidate premodern notions of political power, territorial and cultural boundaries and identity formation. My approach takes medieval German studies in a new direction, by taking a transnational, rather than narrowly national literary perspective. My diverse corpus reveals the differences between three types of text (epic, lyric, and travelogue), composed around three pivotal moments of Iberian history and forms the basis on which to examine ‘Iberia’ as a travelling concept, whose function varies according to a text’s particular purpose and historical situation.

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