On Display- Sounding Communities: Christians, Jews and Muslims in Medieval Iberia at RBML
NEW YORK, February 27, 2014 –

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the exhibition, Sounding Communities: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Medieval Iberia.  The exhibition runs February 26 – April 25, 2014 in the Chang Octagon Exhibition Cases in RBML.


sounding The Cantigas de Santa María. San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Real Biblioteca del Monasterio, Ms. T-1-1 in Galician Portuguese on parchment.

This exhibition was curated by Susan Boynton, Professor of Historical Musicology, Columbia University, with help from other Columbia curators, scholars, and students.  It brings together items from the collections of Columbia University Libraries to portray aspects of text and performance in the medieval Iberian peninsula. 

“While the coexistence of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Iberia has been interpreted in varying ways, this exhibition focuses on manuscripts as material witnesses to traditions of performance, ritual, and reading within the communities of the three religions,” said Boynton.  “The juxtapositions in the exhibit are intended to elicit reflection on parallels and, potentially, mutual influences among the communities.”

Items included in the exhibition include a Koran, Hebrew Bible, and Latin Bible as well as a liturgical book following the rite of Catalonia and a Megila Saragosa (a text in scroll format that echoes the Esther scrolls read on Purim). A twelfth-century charter, recording a noble family’s donation of an Iberian monastery to the Burgundian abbey of Cluny, also brings in the dimension of performance, as such texts were always read aloud.

The exhibit accompanies the international conference of the University Seminar on Medieval Studies, Sounding Communities: Music and the Three Religions in Medieval Iberia, February 27-28, 2014. Sounding Communities is dedicated to the memory of Maria Rosa Menocal (1953-2012), whose influential book The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain was widely read as an eloquent account of peaceful coexistence. Although her vision of convivencia is contested, Menocal's contributions continue to inform the study of medieval Iberia, and to remind us of the prevalence of cultural interchange through music and poetry.

For complete information on the conference please visit the event website.  

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 21 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

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AM 2-27-14