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From an Arab Queen to a Yiddische Mama: The Travels of Marital Advice around the Medieval Mediterranean

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This study explores the travels of a literary anecdote about ten pieces of advice that a mother gave her daughter on the eve of the latter’s marriage. Tracing the various incarnations of the anecdote from its first attestation in ninth-century Arabic works to later versions in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Italian, Catalan, and Yiddish demonstrates the connectivity of the medieval Mediterranean and the porous nature of political, religious, and linguistic borders when it comes to popular ethical literary texts. Studying the changes introduced in each new incarnation allows us to explore the process of translation and adaptation involved in cultural transmission between different linguistic and religious communities. The travels of the anecdote also highlight the commonalities and differences in normative gender roles in different societies across the medieval Mediterranean.

Affiliations: 1: Center for Jewish Studies, Duke University 230 Gray Building, Campus Box 90964, Durham, nc 27708USA ; 2: The Jewish Theological Seminary 3080 Broadway, New York, ny 10027USA


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