Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature
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As a medievalist, I have a special interest in the Silk Road. I am fascinated by the way the Far East and all of its goods are portrayed in the literature of the Middle Ages and by the various travelogues written at the time, which are filled with mysterious and strange beings and customs. How did the Western medieval imagination process and transform the stories that were coming from travelers along the Silk Road?
My course, HMCL 200.12, “Literary Encounters in the Medieval Mediterranean,” examines the cross-fertilization of ideas represented in literary texts that reflect the meeting of East, Near East, and West in the years between 1000 and 1500. The readings demonstrate that certain figures, Alexander the Great, for example, appear in stories from a wide variety of countries along the route. Tales from the 1001 Nights, although not yet translated, pop up in Spain in the Middle Ages. The sea itself becomes the site of danger and transformation. These are fascinating ideas, ones that I am thrilled to be exploring with our students.