A reappraisal of Jewish poetry from Mamluk Egypt. Communal identity and elite culture in the Arabic and Hebrew oeuvre of Joseph ben Tanhum Yerushalmi

Begin - Einde 
2016 - 2018 (gestopt)
Vakgroep Talen en Culturen



This project will explore the Jewish literary production from the early Mamluk period. Its aim is to advance our knowledge of this research field by conducting a literary and contextual analysis of the Arabic and Hebrew oeuvre of Joseph ben Tanhum Yerushalmi (b. 1262), considered to be the most exemplary Egyptian Jewish poet of this period. The research aims to fine-tune the accepted view of Jewish decline in the Mamluk period, by positing that at least during the second half of the thirteenth through first half of the fourteenth centuries CE, the literary activities of the Egyptian Jewish community continued to flourish. The approach will consist of a number of disciplines and a combination of different methodologies in the consecutive stages of research, with the purpose of reassessing the poet’s significance within a web of social and literary relationships and re- conceptualizing his oeuvre as the product of the specific Jewish culture which developed in the Islamic Middle East. The project will attempt to gain insight into the poet’s attempts of keeping his balance between different cultures and ideological systems, and in so doing address wider research issues such as the social and cultural identity of non-Muslim minorities living in Egypt during the early Mamluk period and the Jewish cultural elites’ integration into then prevailing socio-cultural practices and discourses.