The Cleric’s Craft Conference 2015: Crossroads of Medieval Spanish Literature and Modern Critique

The Cleric’s Craft Conference 2015: Crossroads of Medieval Spanish Literature and Modern Critique


♪ ♫ The Iberian Peninsula, where the modern countries
of Spain and Portugal are located, was a dynamic place in the 13th century. Various Christian
kingdoms occupied the north, Muslim-controlled territories occupied the south, and Jewish
communities lived throughout. In the predominantly Christian north, the relative political stability
of the 13th century brought a flourishing of arts and letters.
The first self-consciously learned poetry in the language we now call Spanish was produced
in this milieu. These poems, known as the mester de clerecía or “cleric’s craft,”
were born out of the intellectual activity of a group of clerics connected to the cathedral
schools, monasteries, and universities of northern Spain. Their works spanned most of
the major medieval literary genres, including romance, hagiography, and epic. These works
had widespread influence: they were imitated throughout the 14th and 15th centuries and
became important models for the literature of Jewish and Muslim communities writing Spanish
poetry in Hebrew or Arabic characters. Their authors’ role as the first Spanish-writing
public intellectuals meant that they served as examples for subsequent generations of
scholars, from the humanists at the court of the Catholic Monarchs to the criollo intellectuals
of Spain’s American colonies. As the work of literary critics, historians,
and religious scholars gives us an increasingly accurate picture of medieval Spain, new insights
become possible into mester de clerecía poetry. The academic conference entitled “The Cleric’s
Craft: Crossroads of Medieval Spanish Literature and Modern Critique” will be a landmark
event in the study of this poetry and the historical and cultural context out of which
it arose. In the beautiful fall weather of the U.S Southwest, scholars from a variety
of disciplines and from across the globe will gather at the bilingual campus of The University
of Texas at El Paso to reassess this literature and its study, as well as to chart new directions
for the field. The organizers seek proposals for 20-minute
papers on all aspects of this literature and the context in which it was produced. Papers
from related fields (such as history, musicology, art history, comparative literature, and historical
linguistics) are especially welcome. Please visit the Cleric’s Craft website to find
out more about the conference, submit an abstract, and register for the conference. ♫♪

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