Worlds in motion: A new literary history of the Middle Ages?

  • Rosa María Rodríguez Porto (Guest lecturer)
  • Shazia Jagot (Guest lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


The tales of Alexander, the animal fables of Kalila wa Dimna, the mi’raj stories recounting the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, are all narratives that were transmitted and translated along the broadly defined Silk Road, later to become pan-European narratives widely disseminated in Latin and a sea of vernacular languages. As such, these narratives expand the literary history of the Middle Ages far beyond the geographical borders of Europe. This paper aims at re-conceptualizing these narratives in a collaborative, cross-disciplinary way, able to encompass the very global nature of medieval culture through a sustained engagement with both text and image. By focusing on the analysis of the Liber Scale Machometi and in the Castilian and French translations of Kalila wa Dimna, we will interrogate the appropriation and transformation of these narrative forms across spaces and places as far apart as Central Asia and Castile. It is our contention—shared in the research carried out at the Centre for Medieval Literature—that the manuscripts preserving these texts functioned as ‘portable worlds’ through which it is possible to trace back the embedded histories linking objects, readers and places, further disorienting the notions of ‘East’ and ‘West’ in the act of bringing back to life the imagined realms they still encapsulate
Period13. Dec 2017
Event titleEurope in Motion
Event typeConference
Conference numberIV
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Medieval Literature
  • Global History
  • Ascension narratives
  • Kalila wa Dimna