our words make worlds

Travelling Tales

Title: Travelling Tales: A Conversation 
Session type: Panel/conversation
Chairs: AbdoolKarim Vakil, King's College London; Julian Weiss, King's College London
Speakers: Yuval Evri, SOAS; Rachel Scott, King’s College London

This exploratory conversation discussed the post-medieval reception of medieval narrative collections. Beginning with very brief position papers, Rachel and Yuval then explored several topics that emerge from their respective research projects, which trace the movement of texts and ideas through Europe and the Middle East from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Issues addressed included the East/West binary; how ‘Al-andalus’, ‘Sepharad’, and ‘Europe’ constitute evocative figures of thought; translation; the function of literature, and in particular narrative, as a space of enquiry and means by which identity, history, and social relationships are not simply represented but created.

Rachel’s research looks at the European translations of a highly mobile travelling text – a collection of exemplary fables known as the Panchatantra, which originated in India ca. 300 CE and came to Europe via Arabic and Hebrew in the Middle Ages. She discussed the three Spanish versions: Calila e Dimna (1251), the Exemplario contra los engaños y peligros del mundo (1453) and the Espejo político y moral (1654), each of which was undertaken from different source languages – Arabic, Latin, and Turkish respectively.

Yuval’s research considers (re)visions of Al-Andalus and Sepharad as a transnational model by Arab-Jewish intellectuals in early 20th century Palestine as a way of reshaping Jewish-Muslim relations in Palestine and the broader Arabic and Muslim world in a period dominated by national, ethnic, and religious separations.