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Scholars to lecture on medieval civilizations

Week-long series focuses on three Iberian cultures

International scholars will invade UNM this week, delving into medieval Spain and the three cultures that once ruled the Iberian peninsula during the University’s Institute for Medieval Studies 16th annual spring lecture series.

The series, titled “Medieval Spain: Land of Three Cultures,” brings experts to address topics such as music, sculpture, art, medieval science and more Monday through Thursday.

All lectures will be held in Woodward Hall, room 101, and are free and open to the public.

Tonight at 7 p.m., Joseph F. O’Callaghan will present “Frontier Society in the Land of Three Religions: Medieval Spain Before the Discovery of America.”

O’Callaghan, a Fulbright scholar from Fordham University and one of the leading scholars of medieval Spain in the United States, offers a perspective of Spain as a frontier land divided between the Muslims and Christians during the medieval age. He offers his ideas on the Muslims in power over the Christians and Jews until the late 12th century, when the balance of power shifted in favor of the Christians.

O’Callaghan will present evidence of the interactions of the three groups and how Muslim and Jewish philosophy influenced western Christian philosophy.

Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., O’Callaghan will present “Alfonso X, the Learned, and the Cantigas de Santa Mar°a: A Personal Testament.”

The Cantigas de Santa Mar°a, a collection of miracle stories from Europe, is a personal testament of King Alfonso X of Castile, known as el sabio, which means “the wise” or “the learned.”

O’Callaghan will discuss Alfonso’s declaration that he was Mary’s troubadour and that he chose Mary as his advocate before the judgment seat of God in the hope that she would help him gain eternal salvation.

Alfonso gathered more than 400 cantigas, written in verse and accompanied by musical annotation and colorful illustrations. O’Callaghan will describe how the king turned to the Virgin Mary for consolation and protection and that he believed he would triumph over his enemies and be saved from the fires of hell.

Tuesday at 7 p.m., Elizabeth Valdez del Alamo will present “Nationalism and Internationalism in the Art of Reconquest Spain.”

Valdez del Alamo, a specialist in the art of medieval Spain, is an associate art history professor in the Fine Arts Department at Montclair State University in New Jersey. She will discuss how the Iberian peninsula, because of its position west of Europe and the Mediterranean, was in contact with Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Valdez del Alamo will illustrate how the art of medieval Spain embodied the political and spiritual needs of its populace.

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Wednesday at 4 p.m., Thomas F. Glick will present “The Transmission of Arabic Science in Latin and Hebrew.”

Glick, a history professor and director of the Institute for Medieval History at Boston University, is a trained Arabist specifically in the areas of the transmission of science, technology and institutions from the Muslim world to Christian Europe via medieval Spain.

Glick will discuss how Greek science and philosophy were translated into Arabic during the ninth and 10th centuries. He will talk about how the translations were the start of a cultural movement in the 12th and 13th centuries when the same body of knowledge, added to by the Arabs, was translated into Latin and the Romance Languages, primarily in Spain.

Wednesday at 7 p.m., Judith Cohen will deliver a lecture titled “Women and Musical Transmission in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Cultures.”

Cohen, a scholar and performer of Sephardic music and a member of the graduate faculty at York University in Toronto, will offer her thoughts on how the multiculturalism of medieval Iberia led to the exchange of ideas in science and philosophy.

Thursday at 3:30 p.m., Cohen will present “Music of Spanish Borderlands.”

She will continue her discussion of the intermingling of musical forms and traditions and how the music had its origins in the culture and diversity that defined medieval Iberia.

Thursday at 7 p.m., Eva Hoffman will deliver a lecture titled “The Royal Palaces of the Alhambra and Cultural Identity.”

Hoffman will give the final lecture of the week and will focus on one of the greatest monuments to medieval Islamic architecture in the world, the Alhambra, the most well known monument in Spain.

Hoffman, an assistant professor in the Art and Art History Department at Tufts University, will describe the Alhambra as an example of 14th century Islamic court art and discuss how the Alhambra exploits the two essential components of Islamic art — calligraphy and ornament.

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