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Name: Juliet Gryspeerdt

PhD: Spanish & Portuguese Studies

Thesis Title: Representing Al-Andalus: The Contribution of Travel Writing, Regionalist Writing and Oral Traditions to Iberian Cultural Memory


Thesis Description:

Al-Andalus is the Arabic name for Muslim-occupied Spain and Portugal during the medieval period, the borders of which shifted considerably over the centuries. Today the name evokes not only the place but such aspects as the presence of three Abrahamic religions, and a cultural flourishing of philosophy, architecture, poetry and learning.

This project focuses on how the cultural memory of Al-Andalus developed in the late modern era, focusing particularly on the nineteenth century with its currents of romanticism and orientalism. Travel writing and regionalist writing about southern Spain and Portugal will be examined, as well as the contribution of oral traditions to written cultural productions.

Key to the theoretical approach will be Michael Rothberg’s concept of ‘multidirectional memory’ (Rothberg 2009) which argues that memory is ‘subject to ongoing negotiation, cross-referencing, and borrowing’; it is ‘productive and not privative’ and has an ‘intercultural dynamic’.[1]

One of the aims of the project is to examine the contrast between the internationalisation of Spanish Al-Andalus, and the relative obscurity of Portuguese Al-Andalus in the Portuguese, European and international psyche.

Among the key issues to be explored is the relationship between the foreign gaze of travel writers and the domestic gaze of regionalist writers. Also of interest is the role of cross-genre texts: examples include Irving’s Tales from the Alhambra (1847), which combines travel writing with a creative retelling of local legends, and the lesser known António Maria de Oliveira Parreira’s Os Luso-Arabes (1898), a historical novel combined with an academic or historical study.

As well as Memory Studies, this project will draw on Postcolonial theory, Travel Writing theory, and Landscape, Space and Place. 

[1] Rothberg, Michael, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), p.3.


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Dr Jean Andrews, University of Nottingham

Dr Rui Miranda, University of Nottingham

Professor Timothy Youngs, Nottingham Trent University


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