Research Spotlight: Seeing stereotypes in medieval Spain

In the Middle Ages, Spain was comfortably multicultural for several hundred years longer than the rest of Europe, with Christians, Jews and Muslims coexisting in relative peace. But by 1200, European influences began to seep into Spain, and negative stereotypes, particularly of Jews, took hold – culminating in the expulsion of Jews from that country in 1492. Associate Professor of Art History Pamela Patton, whose research specialty is medieval Spain, is working on a book exploring this transformation from previously untapped sources: works of art produced for the Christian majority during this period. “Like drama, song and folklore, visual culture provides a view of Jewish-Christian relationships in the era that ‘official’ royal and legal texts often do not address,” Patton says. Pursuing her research under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Patton says she hopes her book, with the working title Seeing Stereotypes: Christians, Jews, and Images in Medieval Iberia, will “help people understand we’re still living out the legacy of the Middle Ages in our relationships with other cultures, and shed some light on how and why stereotypes and superstitions develop.” Read more at her entry in the Meadows Art History faculty home page.