Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Talk in Fez by Professor from Cornell University

This Friday night at 6.15 PM is a rare treat - a talk by Professor Maria Antonia Garcés from Cornell University on the Spanish author Cervantes and his Moroccan connections
Professor Maria Antonia Garcés in Ronda, Spain

This promises to be a fascinating talk about Cervantes, one of Spain's most significant authors. His most famous work is the classic - Don Quijote. Professor Garcés is a Cervantes specialist.

Maria Antonia Garcés is Professor of Hispanic Studies at the Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University in the United States and her area is early modern Spanish literatures and cultures. She has a distinguished record in publications on both Iberian and Hispanic American Colonial Studies.

Returning to Spain after fighting in the Battle of Lepanto (1571) against the Turks, Miguel de Cervantes was captured by Barbary corsairs and taken captive to Algiers, where he remained as a slave until 1580. The five years spent in the Algerian bagnios (1575-1580) made an indelible impression on his work. Professor Garcés’ talk will describe the sophisticated multi-ethnic culture of early modern Algiers, Cervantes’s four escape attempts, and his opportune ransom.

During his Algerian imprisonment, Cervantes communicated with Muslims, Christian slaves, and renegades. He also had various Moroccan connections, such as the future Sultan Abd al-Malik (1541-1579), renowned for his culture and sophistication. Abd al-Malik was exiled in Constantinople and Algiers during the reign of his bloodthirsty brother, who had a penchant for killing his siblings. Cervantes and Abd al-Malik may have even become friends while the Spaniard was a slave in Algiers and the future Sultan was a refugee in the city.

The Moorish Ambassdor to England during the reign of Elizabeth 1

Abd al-Malik appears in Cervantes’s play, The Bagnios of Algiers, where he is portrayed with great admiration. Around 1574, Abd al-Malik married the daughter of the Ottoman official Hadjdji Murad―she was the historical beauty who inspired the character of Zoraida in The Captive’s Tale, inserted in Don Quixote, Part I. Their lavish wedding, which resembles current marriage ceremonies in Morocco, is sumptuously represented by Cervantes in the The Bagnios of Algiers.

Among many other publications, Professor Garcés' books include Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive’s Tale, which was awarded the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association of America in 2003. It is a study of Cervantes’s Algerian captivity (1575-1580) and its effects on his fiction.

María Antonia Garcés’ archival research in Spain, Portugal, Malta, Sicily, and Italy has produced another major project on the socio-political world of Algiers and its relations with the Muslim and Christian Mediterranean, An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612).

Professor Garcés is currently revising Sosa’s History of Algiers in the Sixteenth Century, the second book composed by the Portuguese author during his Algerian captivity, for a forthcoming publication in the USA―this work has been edited and translated by Professors Garcés and Diana de Armas Wilson (who will also be attending the talk on Friday). Future projects include the publication of both works in Spain.

When: Friday January 17 at 6.15 PM
Where: ALIF Annex Auditorium
22 Rue Mohamed Diouri, Ville Nouvelle (next to ALC/ALIF)
Cost: Free

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