Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sponsored by the Research Group of Manuscript Evidence

Abstracts to: Linde M. Brocato, linde.brocato AT gmail.com 


Alfonso X, “the Wise,” of Castile was a polymath himself and sponsored many more across the various communities of Iberia.  His court was the political center of Castile, at least until the rethinking of law and politics he promulgated in the Siete Partidascombined with his (invited) Ghibelline bid for the Holy Roman Emperorship to provoke a civil war in his realms, led by his second son Sancho IV.  Iberia was also a crossroads of travelers – scholars, pilgrims, diplomats, merchants – from all over the world, with destinations like the courts of Castile and of the Crown of Aragon.  

Among the vast corpus of works he either directly or indirectly composed, Alfonso X’s book on games and gaming, the Libros de ajedrez, dados y tablas (also known as the Libro de los juegos), likely finished in the early to mid-1280s at the end of his life, seems to have reflected these intellectual and political dynamics, and recorded many such travelers and dwellers of his court.  In spite of a facsimile from the late 1980s, it has until recently garnered very little attention, particularly attention that considered it beyond the domains of chess and gaming, and art history.  

With Sonja Musser Golladay’s 2007 dissertation and Olivia Remie Constable’s article of the same year, however, and more recent studies, analysis of the book and its context have begun to contribute to our understanding of many other aspects of the 13th century, due to its incredibly rich representation of layers of information, ranging from the portraits in its miniatures to the intertextual networks of translation in multiple domains.  

In this era of “big data” and datamining, the Libro de los juegos offers a very interesting counter-case: one specific manuscript of only moderate length that provides insight into multiple domains.  It is “small data,” but data so rich that it produces big results when placed in productive tension across domains and disciplines.  It is a book that lends itself to interdisciplinary conversation, and to conversations that trace its contents and its effects over time, as part of a particular corpus and part of a concrete library. 

The purpose of this session is to encourage a lively interdisciplinary discussion of its texts, images, and the physical book from a variety of domains, perspectives, and methods in order to address a broad array of questions both related to and beyond its explicit topic, games and aristocratic leisure, and, as such, invites participants from all quarters interested in cross-disciplinary analysis and discussion of the Libro de los juegos.

A pdf of the CFP is also available on my academia.edu page:

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