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Carleton Hosts Symposium on Sephardic Cultures and Legacies

May 11, 2012

Carleton College will present a symposium on Sephardic culture—the culture of the Jews of Spain who, following their expulsion from the kingdom in 1492, fled to Turkey and Morocco—from Monday, May 14 through Wednesday, May 16 in the Gould Library Athenaeum. The symposium will feature a variety of lectures, panels discussions, and demonstrations by scholars from Carleton and around the world. The symposium opens on Monday, May 14 at 4:30 p.m. with a lecture entitled “Sepharad: Jewish History in Spain,” presented by Carleton professor Stacy Beckwith. All events related to this symposium are free and open to the public.

The seven centuries of Islamic rule in Spain represented a period of remarkable enlightenment. While Christian Europe was in its Dark Ages, the Muslim kingdoms of Spain represented not only an apex of cultural and scientific achievement, but also an oasis of religious toleration, with Muslims, Christians, and Jews all free to practice their religions in peace. Following the Christian conquest of the final Spanish Muslim outpost in 1492, the Jewish and Muslim inhabitants of the region were forced to either convert or go into exile, and modern Sephardic Jewish communities are those who trace their ancestry to those refugees who were forced to flee their homes in Spain for refuge in the Islamic world, especially in Turkey.

A graduate of the University of Toronto with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, Stacy Beckwith is the also Chair of Middle Eastern Languages and the Director of Judaic Studies at Carleton, where she is a professor of Hebrew. Beckwith studies the relationships between nationalism and literature, with research into Israeli and Palestinian literature, as well as into Jewish literature from the period of Islamic rule in Spain.

This event is sponsored by the Departments of Middle Eastern Languages, Spanish, and Judaic Studies, and by the Distinguished Women Visitors Fund. A full schedule of symposium events is available at www.carleton.edu. For more information or disability accommodations, call (507) 222-5437. The Gould Library is located on the Carleton campus off of College Street; it is also accessible via Highway 19 in Northfield.

Written by Alex Korsunsky '12