Associate Professor David Wacks
Photo: Waiting for a manuscript in the Biblioteca de Catalunya, Barcelona (July 2014)
Associate Professor of Spanish David Wacks teaches and researches the literature and cultures of Spain during the middle ages. This time and place was a microcosm of the questions of religious, linguistic, and ethnic coexistence and conflict that continue to occupy us in today’s shrinking world. In working with these little-known but fascinating literary traditions of the Spanish Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Wacks is able to draw connections between the questions those authors faced and those that we face today about how to make our way in a pluralistic society.
Most recently, Wacks brought a group of these students to Spain during the Summer of 2014 to pursue advanced-level coursework in Spanish studying the Asturian region of northern Spain. In July 2014, Wacks traveled to Barcelona where he unearthed some fascinating unpublished documents, including poems by a 17th-century clandestine Muslim author, a new description of the destruction of Barcelona’s Jewish quarter in 1391, and the first description (late 14th century) of the ritual representations of battles between Muslims and Christians (moros y cristianos) that have since become a widespread tradition in Spain and Latin America. This year he is publishing Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish cultural production before and after 1492 (Indiana University Press, 2015). His is currently at work on a book project tentatively titled Crusade, Conquest, and Conversion in Medieval Iberian Fiction.