Cultural Hybridities: Christians, Muslims & Jews in the Medieval Mediterranean
NEH Summer Institute for College and University Professors
July 4–July 31, 2010 • Barcelona (Spain)

Overview, Aims, About the Institute, Course Structure, Units, Faculty & Organizers, Participants, Libraries and Archive


This Summer Institute will stimulate a rethinking of the history of the Middle Ages (1000–1500) through the optic of the Mediterranean. As a region whose history of connectivity can be documented over two and a half millennia, the Mediterranean has in recent years become the focus of renewed interest in a number of disciplines. Compared to conventional histories of Western Civilization, these approaches shift focus from the study of discrete entities—political states (typically those of northwestern Europe), ethnic or religious groups, cultural traditions—to a study of their interconnectedness and interaction. The program will emphasize patterns of exchange and circulation (of people, goods, and ideas), with special attention to questions of religious and ethnic pluralisms, cultural contact, commerce, hybridity, transculturation, and the negotiation of identities. This conceptual and thematic shift is an important step in reassessing the role of medieval Europe in the emergence of the modern world, with which we aim to inform both scholarly research and post-secondary teaching.


  • To encourage understanding of cultural interaction and creation in the multi-confessional Medieval Mediterranean.
  • To encourage interdisciplinary research and teaching that crosses and challenges national and ecumenical divisions.
  • To give college and university professors and highly-qualified graduate students the opportunity to study and to work collaboratively under leading scholars in a range of fields. 
  • To give participants the opportunity to use the archives, libraries and facilities available in Barcelona.

About the Institute:

  • Organized by the University of California's innovative Mediterranean Seminar
  • Our second NEH Summer Institute on Mediterranean Studies to be held in Barcelona (click here to see about the first one)
  • We will be convening in the 15th-century Viceroy's Palace in the heart of the Old City
  • Once again, our faculty includes some of the most creative and exciting scholars in the field
  • Includes a varied program of presentations, seminars, collaborative and technical workshops (including an introduction to the archives), field trips, aprés-Institute, and plenty of time for independent reading and research

Course Structure:

The Institute combines colloquia, lectures, workshops and independent study.  Each participant will be expected to attend the formal study sessions, and work on a project of his or her own proposing. The course is divided into three broad thematic units (see below). There will be two faculty for each unit, each of whom will present one formal colloquium and moderate two workshop sections, each with 12 participants. The final week will consist of workshops under the guidance of the Co-Directors, and participant presentations. In addition, guest faculty from Barcelona will give presentations on the Archive of the Crown of Aragon, and themes related to each unit. There will be optional hands-on introductions to the Archive of the Crown of Aragon for those interested in undertaking archival research. Two “field trips” are planned: a walking tour in Barcelona and a trip to Girona.  At the moment these are tentative, contingent on budgetary factors.  The Institute may not be able to cover the full cost of these activities. The language of the workshops and colloquia will be English.


  • People & Spaces This unit sets the stage by considering the nature of the Mediterranean as a geographical and environmental entity and the impact this had on social, commercial, political, and cultural developments. What made the medieval Mediterranean the historical crucible in which such a tremendous array of influences converged? How were ethnic and communal identities conceived? Featuring Peregrine Horden and Steven A. Epstein.
  • Religion & Culture This unit turns to the development of Mediterranean cultural and religious expression as a consequence of contact and dialogue between Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions. Some questions guiding our inquiry will be: What factors shaped the diverse cultural encounters along the various frontiers? Why were some ideas, styles, and philosophies so successfully disseminated and others not? Why in some areas and in others not? Processes of adaptation and acculturation, it emerges, do not depend on friendly relations. Featuring Harvey Hames and Judith Cohen.
  • Text & Image continues This unit will consider the Mediterranean as a zone of the adaptation, transformation, and transmission of modes of expression. Focusing on the relationship between social and cultural history, we will examine the role literary and visual languages play in processes of acculturation and innovation. Featuring Cynthia Robinons and Daniel Selden.

Faculty & Organizers:

  • Brian A. Catlos (History, University of California Santa Cruz)
  • Sharon Kinoshita (Literature, University of California Santa Cruz)
  • Núria Silleras-Fernández (Spanish & Portuguese, University of Colorado at Boulder)
  • Judith Cohen (Music, York University)
  • Steven A. Epstein (History, University of Kansas)
  • Harvey Hames (History, Ben Gurion University)
  • Peregrine Horden (Medieval History, Royal Holloway, London)
  • Cynthia Robinson (Art History, Cornell University)
  • Daniel Selden (Literature, University of California Santa Cruz)


  • Abigail Balbale
  • Pete Burkholder 
  • Louisa Burnham
  • Robert Clark
  • Andrew Devereux 
  • John Drendel
  • Edward English 
  • Allen Fromherz 
  • Barbara Fuchs
  • Adam Gaiser 
  • Camilo Gomez-Rivas 
  • Jocelyn Hendrickson
  • Yuen-Gen Liang 
  • Karen Mathews 
  • Adam Miyashiro
  • Kiril Petkov 
  •  Valerie Ramseyer 
  • Jarbel Rodriguez 
  • Michael Ryan 
  • Paul Sidelko 
  •  Joseph Stanley
  • Richard Taylor 
  • Lara Tohme 
  • David Wrisley

Libraries and Archives:

Using archives and libraries in Barcelona: Most archives and libraries require official ID; you may be asked to show your passport. Library and archive hours vary; in July some open only during the morning (until 2pm).