Final Public Oral Exam: Aaron Stamper

Reconfigured and Remade: A Sensory History of Islamic Granada's Reformation As a Civitas Christiana, 1474-1614
Thursday, May 11, 2023, 2:00 pm4:00 pm


Event Description


Anthony Grafton, adviser
Molly Greene
Yonatan Glazer-Eytan
Barbara Fuchs, University of California, Los Angeles


“Reconfigured and Remade: A Sensory History of Islamic Granada’s Reformation as a Civitas Christiana, 1474–1614,” spans from the reign of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs (r. 1474–1516) to the final expulsion of the converted Muslims of Granada — referred to as Moriscos — in 1609 – 1614. Through extensive archival research and application of methods in sensory history, this dissertation considers how the Catholic Monarchs and their successors envisioned rebuilding Granada as a reformation project of religious conversion. Their efforts to convert the people and restructure the city’s built environment embodied, quite literally, their greater ambition to establish a civitas christiana — the New Jerusalem and ideal Christian community on Earth. The conquered population did not stay silent through the process. This story is also about their resistance — distinct reactions from one person to the next, and all within the changing sensorial landscape of an increasingly Catholic city.

The central argument of this dissertation contends that Granada’s reformation was a carefully planned process of sensorial manipulation. On the authority of early Christian figures like St. Paul and Augustine of Hippo, the city’s Catholic and secular leaders worked to reform the outer–sensory experiences of Granadans as a means to reorient their inner–religious intentions. Sincere, internal religious conversion depended on drastic, external re–education. This dissertation explores the dynamic interplay between Castilian political authority and religious conversion to show how perceptions of inherent differences among Christians and Moriscos not only deepened, but also expanded across the entire sensorium.

This dissertation brings together religious, cultural, and intellectual history with the innovative methods of sensory studies to argue that the conversion of Granada was as much an acoustic, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory enterprise as a visual one — a totalizing reformation and reflection of the larger upheavals that reshaped Europe and the Mediterranean world. Across five chapters that follow Aristotle’s external senses — sound, taste, smell, touch, and sight — this story explores the sensory worlds of people from all social statuses. It shows how women, slaves, and heretic priests shaped the socio–political environment of Granada alongside queens, kings, and archbishops. Their stories provide a nuanced local narrative of Granada’s conquest, colonization, and conversion, and compel us to consider pan–sensorial experiences of religious converts in the greater context of the Protestant Reformation, Rome’s Counter–Reformation, and the ever-present prospect of Islamic–Ottoman conquest.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review two weeks before the exam. Contact Lee Horinko for a copy of the dissertation and the Zoom meeting link and password.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Lee Horinko
Area of Interest
Cultural History
Race & Ethnicity
Sensory History
Soundscape Studies
15th & 16th Centuries
Scholarly Series
Dissertation Defense