Karla Mallette studies communications between literary traditions in the medieval Mediterranean—especially Arabic and the Romance vernaculars—and the way that we remember that history today. Her first book, The Kingdom of Sicily, 1100-1250: A Literary History (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), traced the transition between Arabic and Italian literary traditions in medieval Sicily; her second, European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), focused on a southern European tradition of scholarship that identifies the origins of modernity in the contact between Islamic and Christian civilizations in the medieval Mediterranean. Her current project, tentatively titled Lives of the Great Languages: Cosmopolitan Languages in the Medieval Mediterranean, studies the strategies that language uses to transcend the boundaries that language creates. By profiling two pre-modern cosmopolitan languages, Arabic and Latin, and acknowledging the emergent cosmopolitan languages of the twenty-first century, the book contextualizes and defamiliarizes the national language system of European modernity. She has published essays on medieval translations of Aristotelian philosophy, framed narratives, European Orientalism, and Mediterranean Studies, in addition to Italian literature.
Recent and Selected Publications:
“Lingua Franca.” Companion to Mediterranean History, ed. Peregrine Horden and Sharon Kinoshita, 330-44. Malden, MA and Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell, 2014.
A Sea of Languages: Literature and Culture in the Pre-modern Mediterranean (co-edited, with Suzanne Akbari). University of Toronto Press, 2013.
European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean: Toward a New Philology and a Counter-Orientalism. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. The book received the 13th Annual Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, awarded by the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, Texas A&M University.
“Beyond Mimesis: Aristotle’s Poetics in the Medieval Mediterranean.” PMLA 124 (2009): 583-91
The Kingdom of Sicily, 1100-1250: A Literary History. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.