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Doctoral Grant (BOF), Medieval History - 2019BAPDOCPROEX195Posted by: University of Antwerp
Posted date: 2019-Jul-18
The Faculty of Arts is seeking to fill a full-time (100%) vacancy in the Department of History for a
Doctoral Grant by the University Research Fund (BOF) in the area of Medieval History
“Tell me about your East”. Noble European travel narratives and the representation of the Islamic World in the late Middle Ages.
Lands of marvels and wonders, lands of spices and treasures, the East has always fascinated medieval minds. The accounts left by Marco Polo or other Western travelers have greatly contributed to those Eastern constructions and myths. But along this fascination, the East also often appears as threatening: it is the land of Islam, the land of the enemy. A binary vision of the Other — religious or barbaric other — was thus the result. The milieu of clerics and intellectuals has always been given a prime role in the medieval othering process of Islam, yet this to the detriment of other groups. Indeed, many people, usually travelers, have also described their own experience and encounters with the East; contributing in this way to the understanding of West-East/Christian-Muslim relations. If antagonistic representations remain important in these narratives, other elements also appear. The development and construction of these representations is however not properly studied yet. It is therefore important to add these travel accounts — and the tradition to which they belong— to the more theoretical consideration of intellectuals and clerics. Among these travelers, the case of the late medieval nobility is particularly interesting. Indeed, those men, who were close to the power, have produced a whole range of literature informing us of their travels to the East and encounters with Islam. Because of their leading role in society — not in the least their military identity and their involvement in new crusading ideas — their narratives may have had a deeper impact on the way that Europe came to terms with the Islamic Other. The project proposes to investigate travel accounts by late medieval nobles in three distinct political constellations, and to analyze their potential impact on later developments of European discourse on Islam.
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