Medieval Historiography in the Digital Age

Episode 50 with Francisco Peña Fernández

Digital tools have revolutionized the study of medieval literature, allowing for projects that would have seemed inconceivable a few decades ago. These tools allow us to better understand major historical and literary works, as well as to examine the continued impact of specific stories and legends.

In this episode, we discuss the importance of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel on medieval Spanish literature. This story was told and retold throughout the ancient in medieval worlds. In medieval Iberia, it formed an important backdrop to the composition of historical narratives and often served as a model for their accounts of disputes between kings and members of the royal family.

Along with our exploration of the story of Cain and Abel, we will also explore some of the ways that digital tools can help us to better understand and think about some of the big topics in the study of medieval Iberia. In particular, we will discuss Dr. Peña Fernández’s new digital project focusing on Alfonso X’s General estoria and some of the new insights offered by the project.

The Episode

The Guest

Francisco Peña Fernández is an Associate Professor at the Department of Languages and World Literatures at the University of British Columbia and Coordinator of the World Literatures Program. He earned his BA in Ancient and Medieval History at the Universidad de Sevilla (Spain) his PhD in Hebrew Philology and Religious Studies at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain) and his PhD in Medieval Spanish Literature at the University of California, Davis. His research is wide-ranging and interdisciplinary in nature involving Literary Studies, Biblical Studies, Religious Studies, and the History of Ideas.

Suggested Readings

  • Márquez Villanueva, Francisco. El concepto cultural alfonsí. Madrid, 1994.
  • Martínez, H. Salvador. Alfonso X, el sabio. Una biografía. Madrid, 2003.
  • Nirenberg, David. Anti-Judaism. The Western Tradition. New York, 2013.
  • Peña-Fernández, Francisco. “La relatividad de las cosas. Heterodoxy and Midrashim in the First Chapters of Alfonso’s General Estoria.” eHumanista: Journal of Iberian Studies 24 (2013): 551–70.

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