Women, Jews and Muslims in the Texts of Reconquest Castile

Louise Mirrer
Groundbreaking study of the impact of gender and religion in the power struggle behind medieval Spanish texts


Through a detailed analysis of medieval Spain's best known literary works, this book examines two common images of woman—the sexually attractive matron of the Christian upper classes, and the beautiful, pure, and sexually ripe upper-class Muslim or Jewish woman who is submissive to Christians. Suggesting a link between these images and the issues of political and military power, religious difference, and language in the context of reconquest Castile, the book argues that female representation in the literature provides a resolution of Christian-Muslim military conflict.

This volume is the first in the field of medieval Hispanic studies to reexamine the canon in the light of recent critical work on language, gender, power, and the effects of domination. It shows how the texts imaginarily liberate Christian women from the authority of their husbands, in order to demonstrate how women's access to the discourses of power leads to tragedy and ruin for the men who fail to silence them.

Women, Jews, and Muslims in the Texts of Reconquest Castile makes the argument that dominant-"other" struggle, waged on the terrains of gender, religion, and war, is the most appropriate paradigm for discussing literary texts produced in the last centuries of reconquest. More than any other culture, medieval Spain reminds us of the provisional nature of national, religious, and sexual identity.

Exploring the gendering of subjects in society, the volume will be of interest to those in cultural and gender studies, Hispanic studies, medieval studies, and Middle Eastern studies. All texts are translated, and maps and illustrations help orient the reader.

Louise Mirrer is Professor and Chair, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Minnesota.

Praise / Awards

  • "This well-researched and well-documented volume . . . provides a framework of history and literary theory and reinterprets selected works to explain the national, religious, and sexual contexts of modern Spain."
  • ". . . challenges traditional readings of intercultural and gender relations in Castilian ballads and literary texts of the twelfth through fifteenth centuries. Rejecting a critical tradition that claims these texts offer images of peaceful coexistence among Christians, Muslims, and Jews and of harmony between the sexes, Mirrer argues that these literary images were mediated by male Christian Castilians during an age of increasing social intolerance. . . .[H]er book is a significant one in its challenge to traditional notions of medieval Spanish culture. . . "
    Medieval Review

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 208pp.
  • 6 photographs, 6 tables, 5 illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1996
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10723-0

Add to Cart
  • $84.95 U.S.