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Posts under tag: David Wacks

February 9, 2016

Arabic texts provide key to understanding early Spanish fiction

El Libro del Caballero Zifar Paris BN MS Espagnol 36 f32r. Source: Wikipedia

El Libro del Caballero Zifar Paris BN MS Espagnol 36 f32r. Source: Wikipedia

Professor of Spanish David Wacks has published “Popular Andalusi Literature and Castilian Fiction: Ziyad Ibn ‘Amir Al-Kinani, 101 Nights, and Caballero Zifar” in Revista de Poética Medieval 29 (2015): 311–335. A self-archived postprint is available at: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/19484

As it turns out, the popular literature of Muslim Spain was an important influence on early Spanish fiction. There is very little manuscript evidence of the popular (non-courtly) literature of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). For this reason it is difficult to assess its importance for the development of Spanish literature. Two recently discovered Arabic texts written in Muslim Spain, Ziyad ibn ‘Amir al-Kinani (Granada, ca. 1250) and the 101 Nights (Granada, 1234) are two examples of popular Arabic fiction that provide important information for our understanding of works of early Spanish fiction such as the Libro del Caballero Zifar (ca. 1300). The two Arabic works provide evidence of a bilingual culture of storytelling that nourished both Arabic and Spanish literary texts. In particular, the inclusion of themes from the medieval legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in Ziyad that predates the earliest translations of Arthurian texts into Spanish forces us to rethink both the sources of Zifar as well as the Iberian adaptation of Arthurian material in general.

Hadith Ziyad ibn Amir al-Kinani, Escorial MS Arabe 1876 f1v-2r

Hadith Ziyad ibn Amir al-Kinani, Escorial MS Arabe 1876 f1v-2r

January 13, 2016

Wacks wins National Jewish Book Award

Professor of Spanish David Wacks has been selected to receive the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Sephardic Culture for his 2015 book publication, Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before and After 1492 (Indiana University Press).

From the publisher’s website:

The year 1492 has long divided the study of Sephardic culture into two distinct periods, before and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. David A. Wacks examines the works of Sephardic writers from the 13th to the 16th centuries and shows that this literature was shaped by two interwoven experiences of diaspora: first from the Biblical homeland Zion and later from the ancestral hostland, Sefarad. Jewish in Spain and Spanish abroad, these writers negotiated Jewish, Spanish, and diasporic idioms to produce a uniquely Sephardic perspective. Wacks brings Diaspora Studies into dialogue with medieval and early modern Sephardic literature for the first time.

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January 6, 2016

Wacks writes on Spanish romance of conversion

Professor of Spanish David Wacks has published “Romance, Conversion, and Internal Orientalism in Crónica de Flores y Blancaflor (ca. 1290)” in Narrative Culture 2.2 (270-288). A Self-archived postprint is available at http://hdl.handle.net/1794/19479

Crónica de Flores y Blancaflor is a medieval romance interpolated into a thirteenth-century account of the struggles of the kings of Asturias (eighth–ninth centuries) with the Umayyad Caliphate in Cordova. In this essay Wacks demonstrates how the chronicler mapped political concerns onto courtly adventure narrative in order to promote ideologies of conquest and conversion. Flores’s conversion to Christianity in the context of his lifelong love relationship with Blancaflor is a metaphor for the Christian dream of the conquest of al-Andalus and the conversion of Iberian Muslims and Jews.

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June 1, 2015

Wacks publishes book on Sephardic literature

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from publisher website: 

Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before and After 1492. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

The year 1492 has long divided the study of Sephardic culture into two distinct periods, before and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. David A. Wacks examines the works of Sephardic writers from the 13th to the 16th centuries and shows that this literature was shaped by two interwoven experiences of diaspora: first from the Biblical homeland Zion and later from the ancestral hostland, Sefarad. Jewish in Spain and Spanish abroad, these writers negotiated Jewish, Spanish, and diasporic idioms to produce a uniquely Sephardic perspective. Wacks brings Diaspora Studies into dialogue with medieval and early modern Sephardic literature for the first time.

David Wacks’s study is groundbreaking for its pioneering scope and poignant analysis. Through the critical lens of a ‘double diaspora’ Wacks sheds new light on the themes of expulsion and redemption in works by some of the most important medieval Spanish Jewish authors in the post-Zion Iberian exile such as Moses Maimonides and Judah Halevi. Wacks also leads the field of Sephardic Studies in a new direction by casting his critical eye on texts by lesser known Jewish writers, including the kabbalist Joseph Karo, living in a second exile from post-1492 Spain. —Gregory B. Kaplan, University of Tennessee

David Wacks’s elegant monograph bridges the divide between Hebraists and Hispanists, medievalists and early modernists, with conceptual sophistication and substantive insights. It makes, indeed, a compelling case for the analytic viability of “double diaspora” in the literary history of Sephardic Jews and the inscription of Hispano-Jewish literature in the Weltliteratur canon. An important contribution and a superb read. —Luis M. Girón Negrón, Harvard University

January 16, 2014

Spend Your Summer in Oviedo with Professor David Wacks

Professor David Wacks will lead a summer study abroad program in Oviedo, Spain in August of 2014.  The Advanced Spanish Literature & Culture program is ideal for Spanish majors who like to have an intensive immersion experience while making significant progress toward the completion of their major requirements.

Students participating in this unique program will be able to satisfy SPAN 333 & SPAN 407 while abroad.   For more information about the Oviedo program led by Professor Wacks please visit the UO study abroad website:

UO Study Abroad Main Site
Oviedo Program Site

or . . . contact Professor Wacks via email:  wacks@uoregon.edu

Application deadline is March 15, 2014!

September 17, 2013

Wacks writes on medieval marriage gone wrong

Associate Professor of Spanish David Wacks published an essay titled “Vidal Benvenist’s Efer ve-Dinah Between Hebrew and Romance” in A Sea of Languages: Rethinking the Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History, edited by Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Karla Mallette (University of Toronto Press, 2013). [publisher’s
 page]

The essay centers on a comic novella written in Hebrew by an author from Zaragoza, Spain, at the turn of the fifteenth century. Benvenist’s tale narrates the ill-fated marriage between the rich and elderly Efer and his underage bride Dinah turns disastrous, ending in Efer’s accidental overdose of an aphrodisiac.

In the article Wacks argues that although the author writes in Hebrew and argues against the assimilation (and conversion to Christianity) of the Jewish communities of Spain, he draws heavily on the literary techniques and folkloric materials common to both Jewish and Christian authors of his times.

October 14, 2011

Open Access Week


Opening the Humanities with Social Media.
David Wacks from the Department of Romance Languages will discuss his use of social media, including blogging, to make his scholarship available to a broader audience.

The talk will take place on Wednesday, October 26, at 10 a.m. in the Knight Library Collaboration Center.  Dr. Wacks’ presentation is part of a series of talks taking place during Open Access Week hosted by the University of Oregon Library system.



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