Verses to Live By: Aljamiado Poetry in Mudejar and Morisco Communities


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese


“Verses to Live By” examines Aljamiado poetry composed and copied by Spanish Muslims through the lens of linguistic anthropology. Aljamiado refers to Spanish transliterated with the Arabic alphabet. This neglected portion of the Aljamiado corpus disproves the narrative of intellectual and cultural decline ascribed to the Moriscos—Spanish Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity in the sixteenth century. Though Christian authorities banned Arabic and Islamic practices, many Moriscos continued to practice Islam clandestinely. Poetic texts preserved in manuscripts and diffused in recitation transmitted critical religious knowledge in comprehensible, creative, and captivating verse. Attending to Aljamiado poetry rewrites the Moriscos’ supposed narrative of degeneration, one that derives from nineteenth-century preoccupations and continues to influence perceptions of Spanish Islam today.