Verses to Live By: Aljamiado Poetry in Mudejar and Morisco Communities

Pauw, Andrea, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Gerli, E., AS-Spanish, Italian & Portuguese, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines Aljamiado poetry through the lens of linguistic anthropology. Aljamiado refers to Spanish transliterated with the Arabic script. Centered on premodern manuscripts, “Verses to Live By” shows that Aragonese Muslims engaged with coeval intellectual trends and navigated contested identities through the poetic texts they translated, composed, and copied. In the sixteenth century, Moriscos’ (Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity) poetic practices played a central role in preserving a threatened religious identity. Aljamiado poetry has been seen as evidence of Moriscos’ intellectual and cultural degeneration. “Verses to Live By” challenges this characterization by applying a theoretical framework informed by linguistic anthropology, by returning to the manuscripts themselves, and by analyzing nineteenth-century historiography, art, and literary criticism. Reconsidering Aljamiado poetry with metacritical attention demonstrates the ways in which nineteenth-century interpretations of medieval and early modern history continue to influence perceptions of the past today.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Aljamiado manuscripts, Moriscos, Early modern history, Spain
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