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image of Medieval Encounters

This article sketches a theoretical strategy for approaching the literary history of Norman Sicily (centuries XI-XII). Because of its linguistic complexity—during the Norman era, Sicilians wrote in Arabic, Greek, and Latin—literary historians have resisted treating Siculo-Norman literature as a literary-historical category. Rather, the literature has been divided into three discrete, linguistically defined traditions, understood as colonial extensions of mainland literary traditions. Using a reading of Sicilian coins with multilingual inscriptions in order to examine the parallel use of multiple languages in a single "text," this article argues for a reconsideration of Sicilian literature of the era, one that looks at multilingualism not as a challenge to literary coherence but as constitutive of a literary culture.


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