Journal of Romance Studies

Remembering the future: cultural hybridity in Sicily?

Journal of Romance Studies (2004), 4, (3), 79–96.

Abstract

Sicily weathered a period of transition from the eleventh to the thirteenth century, passing from the domination of the Byzantine Greeks, to the Arabs, then to the Normans, before becoming the seat of the ever-expanding empire of Frederick II. Celebrated ever since for its remarkably hybrid artistic production, its churches and poetry, the island’s political promise faded after Frederick’s demise; but its hold on the imagination of Western Christendom as a point of origin for the notion of European culture cannot be overestimated. In this article I examine the island as a microcosm of larger cultural wars afflicting the continent in the face of political centralization and the linking of ethnic and national identity. Though Sicily can no longer be seen as a multicultural utopia, a lost model of non-sectarian Europe, it does offer a prime example of a conscious effort to sculpt an imperial identity from a wide range of cultural traditions and a selective reading of history.

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Burgwinkle, William

Burgwinkle, William