Maya Soifer Irish

Maya Soifer Irish
Faculty Affiliate, Art History
Faculty Affiliate, Medieval Studies Program
Faculty Affiliate, Jewish Studies
Ph.D. Princeton University, 2007
M.A. University of Colorado, 2000
713-348-2598
311 Humanities

Research Areas

Areas of Interest: 
  • Medieval Europe
  • Medieval Iberia
  • Kingdom of Castile in the High to Late Middle Ages
  • Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim Relations in Pre-Modern Europe and the Mediterranean
  • Inter-religious Polemics
  • Medieval Borderlands
Research and Teaching: 

Dr. Soifer Irish works on the history of interfaith relations in medieval Spain and the Mediterranean.  Her first book, Jews and Christians in Medieval Castile: Tradition, Coexistence, and Change, was published in 2016 by The Catholic University of America Press.  It explores the changes in Jewish-Christian relations in the Iberian kingdom of Castile during the pivotal period of the reconquest and the hundred years that followed the end of its most active phase (eleventh to mid-fourteenth century).  Focusing especially on the Christian heartland north of the Duero River, known as Old Castile, the book offers a detailed investigation of the Jews' changing relations with the monarchy, the church, and the towns.

Dr. Soifer Irish’s next project, tentatively entitled Interfaith Coexistence in Medieval Spain: A Political Experiment, will build on the themes of the first book.  It will examine the effect of political ideologies and power relations on the practice of religious toleration in Islamic and Christian Spain during the period between the Visigoths’ conversion to Catholic Christianity in 589 and the anti-Jewish pogroms of 1391.

Some of Dr. Soifer Irish’s articles are available here.

Among the courses Dr. Soifer Irish has taught at Rice are “Jews and Christians in Medieval Europe,” “Medieval Civilizations,” “Coexistence in Medieval Spain,” “Medieval Borderlands,” “Religious Violence and Tolerance in the Middle Ages,” “Medieval Violence,” and “Medieval Mediterranean World.”

Dr. Soifer Irish currently does not accept graduate students, but will teach graduate seminars in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish and Mediterranean history upon request.