Noel Blanco Mourelle

Assistant Professor of Medieval Iberian Studies; Catalan Undergraduate Adviser
nblancomourelle@uchicago.edu
Wieboldt 223
773.288.9404
PhD, Columbia University, 2017

I’m a specialist in medieval Iberian languages and cultures. My teaching and research engages with themes of religious conversion, theories of universalism, political theology and history of the book. I always aim to situate these questions within the larger frame of the Mediterranean, as space of convergence and negotiation among different narratives of worship, and to bridge the culture of the past with current political and social questions.

My book-project, titled Learning Machines, focuses on the intellectual legacy of the Majorcan theologian and preacher Ramon Llull and the transformation of his Art through medieval and early modern book technology. In the thirteenth-century, Llull composed something he called the "Art" as both a philosophical system and a “machine” for religious conversion. The learning machines referred to in the title of my book-project are the paper-devices and combinatory diagrams that define the textual tradition of the Art of medieval philosopher and preacher, Ramon Llull. The Art is a logic machine, operated by said paper-devices, that was designed to generate a system of notation capable of demonstrating the incontrovertibility of the Christian faith to Jewish and Muslim wise-men throughout the Mediterranean. Theorizing from the specificity of this archive, my book is a material intellectual history, grounded in the notion that textual technologies and man-made artifacts structure ideas, theories and methods. Ramon Llull and his disciples sought to disseminate this Art of conversion by perfecting the technology of the book, incorporating a series of geometrical figures and moveable circles to teach preachers and academics a new intellectual language. Between the fourteenth and the seventeenth centuries scholars and humanists gathered and experimented with the corpus of Llull’s works in university libraries and royal courts. The study of this corpus directly influenced models for imperial political expansion and Christian universalism.

Education

BA, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 2007
MA, EHESS, 2008
PhD, Columbia University, 2017

Publications
"Dimas de Miguel y la jerga luliana de la universalidad." Cuadernos de historia moderna 44.1 (2019): 63-82.
Recent Courses in RLL
  • SPAN 21703 Introducción a las literaturas hispánicas: textos españoles clásicos (Autumn 2019, Winter 2021)
  • SPAN/CATA/PORT 22350/32350 Speaking Truth to Power in Medieval Iberia (Autumn 2020)
  • SPAN 23555/33555 Learned Women: Spaces of Knowledge, Self-Actualization, and Power (Autumn 2019)
  • SPAN 33440 Histories of Reading: Users, Technology, and the Making of Knowledge (Winter 2020)
  • SPAN 43333 Waiting for the End of the World (Winter 2021)