The Times of Al-Andalus: Performing Alternative Temporalities in Spanish New Historical Novels, Festive Reenactment, and Conversion Narrative
Baumgardt, Julia C.
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With the current rise in popularity of the historical novel and “medieval” fantasy renderings in television and film, as well as the increasingly charged political rhetoric centered on notions of medieval conflict and territorial rights, the Middle Ages have become a repository for a diversity of contemporary cultural significance. Many of these meanings are resonant with Spanish National-Catholic ideology and historiographic praxis and invested with a temporal logic that makes the medieval both essence and antithesis of the modern West. This dissertation examines contemporary renovations of al-Andalus—in two historical novels, one fiesta de moros y cristianos “reenactment,” and one hybrid conversion narrative-historical novel by a Spanish convert to Islam—that contrast with or attempt to contrast with these ideological uses of the Middle Ages. Following the temporal critiques of Johannes Fabian, Wai Chee Dimock and Dipesh Chakrabarty, it investigates the texts’ reconstructions of the Iberian Middle Ages through an interrogation of both the temporalities the works renounce and those they create. Furthermore, it analyzes the function of these texts’ attempts to vindicate the role of two groups both marginalized and appropriated by National-Catholic discourses—women and Muslims—and the intersection of this vindication with the texts’ resultant temporality. Through an emphasis on discourse and communal ritual, several of the texts manage to move away from a conflict-based, teleological concept of Spanish history in time and establish an alternative temporality and a more inclusive version of al-Andalus, past and present.