Stephen Bensch (on leave fall 2018)
Stephen Bensch specializes in medieval Europe, early Islamic history in the Middle East, and Muslim-Christian relations. His interests have focused on Mediterranean interchanges among Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Iberian peninsula and on the religious and economic structures that promoted, blocked, and transformed inter-faith contacts. Professor Bensch offers a variety of courses and seminars including "The Barbarian North," "Friars, Heretics, and Female Mystics," and "Cross and Crescent: Muslim-Christian Relations in Historical Perspective."
Professor Bensch's first book Barcelona and Its Rulers, 1096-1291 (Cambridge University Press, 1995) became the foundation for later publications on Mediterranean history. He is currently completing a translation and commentary, Saxon History: Widukind von Corvey and the Rise of Medieval Germany, and is at work on a monograph on the formation of the nobility in the Costa Brava and its projection to North Africa, Southern Italy, and Byzantium based upon one of the earliest extant aristocratic archives in Europe. Because of his research interests, he has directed several students to conduct their own independent research in medieval Iberian archives in order to write honors theses. He is also undertaking research into the arrival of Latin Christians in the Maghrib, the Islamic "Far West." Here he is photographed standing upon the ruins of Sijilmasa, the southernmost oasis in Morocco. This ancient site connected the Mediterranean with caravans carrying gold and slaves across the Sahara from Timbuktu.