College of Arts & Sciences Art History Professor Selected as NEH Summer Scholar

Karen Mathews is Attending a Four-Week Institute at the Historic Alhambra in Granada, Spain

An interdisciplinary group of 25 scholars were selected to travel to Granada, Spain, to study the Alhambra Palace this summer – the magnificent Moorish complex known as “the pearl set in emeralds” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Karen Mathews, assistant professor in the UM College of Arts & Sciences, is participating in the summer institute, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Its title is The Alhambra and Spain’s Islamic Past.

“As the best-preserved Islamic palace from the medieval period in the entire world, the Alhambra is an extraordinary monument in its own right,” Mathews said. “The premise of the Institute, however, is to use the palace as a case study, a springboard for addressing a number of larger cultural political issues.”

These include the role of the Alhambra in evolving Muslim-Christian relations in Spain, the cultural significance of growing Muslim populations in Spain today, and the relationship between nationalism and historical memory. 

The participants are working directly in the Alhambra itself, and visit other historical sites in the Andalusia region, such as Seville and Córdoba.

“The institute’s theme encompasses ideas and concepts that are central to my research and teaching here at the University of Miami and this will be an invaluable opportunity for me to interact with other academics who share these scholarly interests,” Mathews added.

Her research and teaching focus on Islamic art, and European medieval art.

Created in 1965, the NEH is the only federal program that exclusively supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.

Approximately 520 scholars will take part in NEH summer institutes this year.

Other offerings include America and China: 150 Years of Aspirations and Encounters, City of Print: New York and the Periodical Press, and Latin American Theater Today. 

July 21, 2015