Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dear Colleague,

Thank you for your interest in Negotiating Identities: Expression and Representation in the Christian-Jewish-Muslim Mediterran, our 4-week NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers to be held in Barcelona, Spain from 5 July to 1 August 2015. Below you will find descriptions of the goals of the Institute, its organization, and practical information about the arrangements in Barcelona. Please read this entire document carefully before beginning the application process. Please also review the material in our website for detailed information, and for links to external web pages with information on accommodation, facilities, etc. (Click on “NEH Summer Institute 2015” on the homepage.) The website will be updated as more material becomes available.

Our 2015 Summer Institute will explore the medieval Mediterranean (c. 1000–1500) as a zone of cultural, scientific, and technological innovation and its role in the emergence of the modern world. In keeping with the NEH’s “Bridging Cultures” initiative, it will focus on innovations born of the exchange among Christians, Muslims, and Jews, particularly on the mechanisms, institutions, and relationships characteristic of the Mediterranean which enabled the transmission and dissemination of knowledge and technologies across different languages and cultural or ethnic communities.

Participation in this four-week Summer Institute carries a stipend of $3,300. Stipends are intended to help cover travel expenses to and from the project location, books and other research expenses, and living expenses for the duration of the period spent in residence. Stipends are taxable. The stipend may be insufficient to cover all expenses related to participation in this Institute. No supplements will be given.

Applicants: this NEH Summer Institute is designed to provide 25 NEH Summer Scholars with an intense hands-on introduction to the emerging field of Mediterranean Studies, working with the two Institute Directors,four Visiting Faculty members, and a roster of local Barcelona-based experts. It is open to college and university faculty members, advanced graduate students, and independent scholars in any discipline (including but not limited to History, Literature, Art History, Religious Studies, etc. Music) whose scholarly research or teaching touch on the Medieval Mediterranean. In keeping with NEH policy, three spaces will be reserved for qualified graduate students. First consideration will be given to applicants who have not participated in an NEH-supported Seminar, Institute or Landmarks workshop in the last three years (2009, 2010, 2011).

Graduate Students who wish to apply should be “ABD” and ideally in their final year of writing.

Languages. All lectures, discussions, and presentations will be carried out in English, the only language required for participation. A reading knowledge of Spanish, Catalan, Latin, Arabic and other medieval or modern languages will allow Summer Institute Scholars to better explore the riches of Barcelona’s libraries and archives.

Important: While Institute activities and accommodations (see below) have been arranged, it is imperative that participants be able to function independently. To this end, previous foreign travel experience is desirable. English is widely but not universally spoken; even a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish and/or Catalan will obviously help you negotiate the libraries, markets, restaurants, and other aspects of everyday life in Barcelona.

Like all Summer Seminars, Institutes, and Workshops, ours will be governed by the NEH’s Principles of Civility.


The Summer 2012 Institute topic is part of a larger project of rethinking the history of the Middle Ages, c. 1000–1500, through the optic of the medieval Mediterranean. In contrast to traditional accounts of the Middle Ages as the lull between the decline of classical antiquity and its “rebirth” in Renaissance, our approach emphasizes questions of religious and ethnic pluralisms, cultural contact, hybridity, transculturation, and the negotiation of identities. This allows us, in turn, to reconsider recent (and not-so-recent) conceptualizations of modes of interaction between Christian, Muslim, and Jewish societies: the medieval Mediterranean, often cast as a site of the origin of Christian-Muslim hostility (in the form of the Crusades) has also, paradoxically, been idealized as the site of “convivencia”—the harmonious coexistence of Christian, Islamic, and Judaic cultures. By moving from an essentialist to a process-oriented understanding of identity and by emphasizing the variety and complexity of interconfessional interactions in the medieval Mediterranean, we situate “Holy War” as one pole of a spectrum that includes co-existence, accommodation, and outright cooperation. Furthermore, in analyzing medieval phenomena—the early commercial development of centers like Venice or Genoa, the recovery of Greek learning and Aristotelian method through the translation of Arabic texts-- not teleologically (as the origin of the rise of capitalism or the sources of “western” scientific method) but synchronically, we revise the genealogy of European “modernity” by acknowledging the importance and vitality of, for example, Latin Europe’s economic and cultural links to the Judeo-Islamic Mediterranean). Only through such situated analyses of medieval Mediterranean versions of identity construction, cultural and confessional interactions, modes of political organization, commercial exchange, colonialism, and perceptions of others can we effectively assess and understand these phenomena in subsequent periods.

Program and Requirements

The Institute

Approximately six weeks before the start of the Institute, Summer Institute Scholars will receive, electronically, a packet of readings selected by the Co-Directors and Visiting Faculty members. Readings may be done before the start of the Institute (ideally) or before the lecture of the Faculty Member who has assigned a particular selection.

During the four weeks of the Institute, NEH Summer Scholars will make progress on the projects outlined in their Application Essays. Projects may focus either on original or synthetic research or on the development of pedagogical applications of the substance of the Institute, culminating in a short oral presentation (10–15 minutes) in Week 4 of their progress to date. Four months after the conclusion of the Institute, Summer Scholars are asked to submit a written overview of their projects (typically 2 pages single-spaced, except in the case of course syllabi) that will be published on the Mediterranean Seminar website (

The work of the Institute will be divided into four one-week units:

Week I. Thinking Mediterranean

What characterized culture and identity in the medieval Mediterranean? Our 2015 Institute, “Negotiating Identities,” is organized around the conceit of “lines”–how the lines scholars use to delineate the Mediterranean and its ethno-religious identities are drawn, how to read between them, and how they can be blurred. Unit I introduces the Institute’s two main themes: ethno- religious diversity and Mediterranean culture. This week the Co-Directors will serve as Institute’s principal faculty, delivering introductory talks that frame the Institute theme in terms of their own scholarly perspectives: Brian Catlos on minority-majority relations and intergroup dynamics and Sharon Kinoshita on cultural identity and textual production. In addition, each will lead two seminar discussions: Catlos on the emergence of a medieval “Mediterranean culture” and its implications for intergroup relations, and Kinoshita on the ways literary texts reflect, inflect, and transmit that culture.

Week II. Blurring the Lines

How do differentiated ethno-religious and political identities participate in a Mediterranean of shared styles, tastes and values? Following on the historical and literary emphases of Unit I, Unit II turns to material culture and art. Cecily Hilsdale, an expert in the arts of the Byzantine empire, examines how medieval Mediterranean identities are negotiated through objects of exchange— portable things, “minor arts,” or “ars sacra.” By focusing on the movement of sumptuous art objects as they crossed cultural and confessional lines, her work brings conceptual issues of cross-cultural exchange to the concrete level of material culture, drawing on anthropologists of the object who study the “social lives of things” and literary theorists who study “thing theory.” She will focus in particular on silk as a commodity and object of desire and value across the Mediterranean. Marcus Milwright brings his archaeological expertise to bear on examples of what might be defined in modern parlance as propaganda – artifacts meant to convey messages to the inhabitants of a given polity and to potential enemies or allies–to question how effective a tool visual culture was in communicating political and religious ideologies. Examples will range from quotidian objects, such as dinnerware, to monumental architecture, such as the Dome of the Rock, in order to tease out the relationship between aesthetic style, cultural identity, and religio- political ideology in a Mediterranean of overlapping and integrated communities.

Week III. Marking Boundaries

How did the affinity and difference that simultaneously characterized Mediterranean religious, intellectual, and literary cultures interact? Unit III examines the geography of textual and oral transmission in the high medieval Mediterranean, showing how the nuances and nature of ethno- religious interaction can be gleaned from the comparative reading of texts that, viewed in isolation, seem to portray identity as discrete. John Tolan, the foremost authority on Christian perceptions of Muslims and Jews from the eleventh to fourteenth centuries, will discuss the situation of subject minorities before the law in the Christian and Islamic Mediterranean and the interplay between oppressive or marginalizing ideological tendencies and currents that advocated for toleration and legal integration. He will examine the contrast between the urge of legists to regulate relations between members of different faiths, and the interpretation scholars and judges made of these laws in ways intended to facilitate integration. Thomas Burman is a leading authority on Muslim-Christian polemic and intellectual exchange in the Western Mediterranean and the translation of Muslim religious works (particularly the Qu’ran) into Latin. Through the example of the thirteenth-century missionary and polemicist Ramon Martí, he will examine how the translation movement involving Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic texts influenced the development not only of scientific and philosophical thought but also notions of ethno-religious identity: how, for example, Latin translations of the Arabic adaptations of Aristotle and other thinkers affected Christian perceptions of Islam.

Week IV: Towards the New Mediterranean Studies

What does Mediterranean Studies bring to our understanding of ethno-religious relations and cultural development? This week’s program consists of workshops and discussions, directed by Catlos and Kinoshita, that review and synthesize the preceding weeks’ presentations and situate them in relation to their own theoretical and comparative work. The aim is to help participants assimilate the materials covered as they finalize their individual projects, relating the implications of the Institute to their own pedagogy and research. The program concludes with presentations of the participants’ projects in a two-day “mini conference” (a change enacted at our 2012 Institute that clearly enhanced our participants’ experience). Besides giving the Summer Scholars the opportunity to share their work formally, it allows Catlos and Kinoshita to guide discussions of particular case studies toward the larger questions at the heart of the Institute. We conclude with a closing dinner and ceremony to celebrate and cement the personal and professional relationships forged over the course of the four weeks and to mark the beginning of new collaborations among our Participants.

Directors & Faculty
Institute co-Directors Brian Catlos (History) and Sharon Kinoshita (Literature) have considerable experience with collaborative work in Mediterranean Studies, including three previous NEH Summer Institutes (2008, 2010, and 2012). Currently, they are co-Directors of the Mediterranean Seminar (, the UC Santa Cruz Center for Mediterranean Studies, and a five-year University of California Multi-Campus Research Project (MRP) in Mediterranean Studies. Previous activities include a Residential Research Group (Fall 2007) at the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) in Irvine CA and many conferences, workshops, colloquia, and conference panels in History, Literature, and interdisciplinary Mediterranean Studies.

Brian A. Catlos (Co-Director, Faculty) is an historian who specializes in Muslim-Christian- Jewish interaction across the medieval Mediterranean. Monographs published in 2014 include Muslims of Latin Christendom, ca. 1050–1614 (Cambridge UP), the first comparative study of the Muslim minority in Western Europe, and Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a counter-history of Jewish-Muslim-Christian relations in the age of the Crusades. He is currently finishing Paradoxes of Plurality, which analyzes communal relations and theorizes ethno-religious diversity in the medieval Mediterranean, and a Mediterranean Studies textbook (Bedford/St. Martins; co-authored with Thomas Burman and Mark Meyerson).

Sharon Kinoshita (Co-Director, Faculty), Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, specializes in the study of Old French and Mediterranean literary texts and their circulation in broad historical and cultural contexts. She is the author of Medieval Boundaries: Rethinking Difference in Old French Literature (Pennsylvania, 2006) and co-author of recent books on Chrétien de Troyes (Brewer, 2011) and Marie de France (Brewer, 2012). A leader in the field of medieval Mediterranean literary studies, she has published “Medieval Mediterranean Literature” in the PMLA (2009) and several articles modeling the intersection between Mediterranean Studies and medieval French and Italian literatures; she is also co-editor, with Peregrine Horden, of the Blackwell Companion to Mediterranean History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).

Thomas Burman (Faculty), Distinguished Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Burman is the leading authority on Latin translations of the Qur’an; he is a scholar of Mozarabic culture and of disputation and polemic among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Major publications include Religious Polemic and the Intellectual History of the Mozarabs, c. 1050-1200 (Brill, 1994), and the prize-winning Reading the Qur’ân in Latin Christendom, 1140-1560 (Penn, 2007), as well as the co-edited volume Scripture and Pluralism: Reading the Bible in the Religiously Plural Worlds of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Brill, 2005). He has won many national and international awards and serves on numerous journal and scholarly boards; currently he is co-authoring (with Catlos) a textbook on the Medieval Mediterranean for Bedford/St. Martin.

Cecily Hilsdale (Faculty), is Associate Professor of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University (Canada), specializing in the arts of Byzantium and the Mediterranean world. Her research focuses on diplomacy and cultural exchange, in particular, the circulation of Byzantine luxury items as diplomatic gifts as well as the related dissemination of eastern styles, techniques, iconographies, and ideologies of imperium. Other academic interests include the intersection of ritual and representation, gender and patronage, image theory, and the art and architecture of medieval Spain. Professor Hilsdale’s research has received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, and the Fulbright Foundation. Her Byzantine Art and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. She was a featured scholar at the UC Mediterranean Studies MRP Spring 2012 Workshop.

Marcus Milwright (Faculty), is Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture and Director of Medieval Studies at the University of Victoria (Canada). His research focuses on the archaeology of the Islamic period, the art and architecture of the Islamic Middle East, cross-cultural interaction in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean, the history of medicine, craft practices in Late Ottoman Syria, and the architecture and civil engineering of southern Greece during the Ottoman sultanate. His books include An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology (Edinburgh, 2010) and The Fortress of the Raven: Karak in the Middle Islamic Period (1100- 1600) (Brill, 2008). He has written many articles and contributed chapters to several edited volumes; in 2001 he curated the exhibit Steel: A Mirror of Life in Pre-Modern Iran at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. He was the keynote speaker at our Fall 2012 UC Mediterranean Studies MRP workshop.

John Tolan (Faculty), is Professor of History at the University of Nantes (France), a Member of the Academia Europaea, and director of RELMIN, a five-year international project funded by the EU to study Muslim, Jewish and Christian identity and interaction in the Middle Ages through the laws that governed them. He is a leading authority on Christian perceptions of Islam and on Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations, both theoretical and applied. Major publications include: St. Francis and the Sultan: The Curious History of a Christian-Muslim Encounter (Oxford, 2009), L’Europe latine et le monde arabe au Moyen Age: Cultures en conflit et en convergence (Rennes, 2009), Sons of Ishmael: Muslims through European Eyes in the Middle Ages (Florida, 2008), Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination (Columbia, 2002), Histoire médiévale: Les Relations entre les pays d'Islam et le monde latin du milieu du Xème siècle au milieu du XIIIème siècle (Bréal, 2000), and Petrus Alfonsi and his Medieval Readers (Florida, 1993), several of which have been translated. He has held numerous prestigious awards, fellowships, and visiting professorships.


At the Institute, our working day will be divided into three time blocks compatible with the Spanish day.1 The first (10am–2pm) will normally be left open for Institute Scholars to make use of local library, archival, and university facilities. The second (2-4:30 pm) is left free for lunch and informal conversations. Afternoon sessions (4.30–7:30pm) will include, in addition to lectures, seminars led by the co-Directors and Visiting Faculty, discussions/working groups conducted by the Institute Scholars themselves, as well as opportunities to continue discussions in a variety of informal settings. In addition, co-directors Catlos and Kinoshita will meet individually with Summer Scholars at the beginning of the Institute and will be available for discussions and mentoring throughout.


Barcelona is a popular summer tourist destination, with high demand making affordable accommodations very difficult to find. Because of this and in light of the dollar/euro exchange rate, we anticipate housing our Institute Scholars Barcelona Resident, a new residence building belonging to the Pompeu Fabra University. Located in La Ribera, a neighbourhood in Barcelona’s historical old city, it is a short walk from the Institute location and most libraries and archives. The accommodations are single-occupancy with private bath. There is a shared kitchen and lounge, and wifi. Rooms are air-conditioned. The residence has on-site laundry facilities and is convenient to local markets. The cost of this accommodation, approximately $1300 (subject to exchange rates) for the four-week Institute (about a quarter of the cost of comparable hotel accommodations), will be deducted from the initial stipend payment. It may be possible for participants who wish to begin their stay early to stay after the Institute at Barcelona Resident by contacting the residence and making these arrangements as soon as possible. Any extended stays will need to be paid for separately by the participant in question.

Immediately upon notification of acceptance into the Institute, Summer Scholars will be given a very brief window of time to decline this default arrangement. Whereas we strongly recommend using the official Institute residence (in past Institutes, the common living arrangements have contributed substantially to intellectual and social interchange), if you wish to rent your own furnished apartment (available in a range of prices and amenities, which may include telephone, internet, air-conditioning, laundry, television and stereo, etc.) you are strongly urged to book your apartment as far in advance as possible. We cannot provide assistance in seeking outside accommodation, or resolving any disputes or difficulties that may arise as a consequence of opting out of the official residence. However, some information, including helpful websites, will be posted on our web page in the coming months. Participants with specific needs regarding access, etc., should contact the Directors immediately upon acceptance.

1 The Spanish day differs significantly from the North American norm, as a consequence of cultural idiosyncrasies and climatic conditions. Breakfast is usually light: coffee and a pastry. Normal business hours begin at 9 or 10am, with a snack break at 11am or noon. Lunch, the main meal, is typically taken 2–4 pm. There is no custom of a siesta. Work hours resume at 4 or 5 pm and run until between 7 and 9 pm (depending on the type of establishment). A light dinner is eaten at 9 or 10 pm, (Many restaurants now open earlier for lunch and dinner in order to accommodate the tourist population.)


NEH Summer Institute Scholars will have access to an array of university libraries with up-to- date collections of European and North American scholarship on the Mediterranean; these include the collections of the Pompeu Fabra University, the University of Barcelona, the National Library of Catalonia, the Reial Academia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona, the library of the Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC), and the Autonomous University of Barcelona. They will also be able to consult several major archives—the cathedral, municipal, and notarial collections—as well as the Archive of the Crown of Aragon, a collection without parallel for the study of social, economic, political and cultural history in the Mediterranean, with abundant documentation spanning the twelfth to seventeenth centuries.

Important Dates

Application Process

2nd March, 2015: Deadline for your full electronic application.
30th March, 2015: All applicants will be notified of their status (accept, reject, alternate). 3 April 2015: Deadline for Summer Scholars to accept or decline their offer.
15th April, 2015: Deadline to decline default accommodation.
5th July, 2015: Arrive in Barcelona
6th July, 2015: Institute Begins
1st August, 2015: Institute Concludes

As soon as you know you wish to apply, fill out and submit the online Application Cover Sheet. The application cover sheet must be filled out online at this address: Please follow the prompts. Before you click the “submit” button, print out the cover sheet and add it to your application package. Then click “submit.” At this point you will be asked if you want to fill out a cover sheet for another project. If you do, follow the prompts to select the otherproject and repeat the process.

Note that filling out a cover sheet is not the same as applying, so there is no penalty for changing your mind and filling out cover sheets for several projects. A full application consists of the items listed above, as sent to the project director.
You must submit a separate cover sheet online for each project to which you are applying in order to generate a unique tracking number for each application.
Do not copy and paste a new cover sheet.

Submit by email to ONE file in pdf format, labelled as follows: “[your last name][your first initial][your zip code]application.pdf” (for example, StamperA95060application.pdf). This file is due no later than March 2 2015. It file should contain:

  • A copy of your NEH online Cover Sheet.

  • Your essay and project description (maximum 4 pages, double-spaced). This is the most

    important part of the application; please include your reasons for applying to this Institute; your interest, both intellectual and personal, in the topic of the Medieval Mediterranean; your qualifications, intellectual/academic and personal, for undertaking your individual project and making a contribution to the Institute overall (including a list of the languages you know and the level of your reading and speaking ability in each); what you hope to accomplish by your participation, including in your individual research or pedagogical project, and the relation of the study to your teaching.

  • A current CV, maximum 4 pages in 12-point font.

    NOTE: Letters of recommendation are not required; we will solicit them from your list of referees as required.

Applications not submitted in accordance with the procedures presented here, are incomplete, or not submitted on time in their entirety will not be considered.

Again, we thank you for your interest in our Summer Institute. This will be a unique and enjoyable opportunity to collaborate with faculty from a range of disciplines in the singular surroundings of Barcelona’s medieval Old City. For further questions, please contact Aaron Stamper at


Brian Catlos
Associate Professor of History University of California, Santa Cruz

Sharon Kinoshita
Professor of Literature
University of California, Santa Cruz