irish headshot

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, with a working title Between Splendor and Tragedy: The Making of Christian Seville in the Fourteenth Century, will examine interfaith coexistence and its breakdown in the century-and-a-half between the conquest of Seville and the anti-Jewish riots of 1391. By focusing on the city that became the epicenter for the riots, she hopes to explore the causes of the violence and explain why Spain was set on the path toward ending its religious pluralism.

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 will teach graduate seminars in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish and Mediterranean history upon request.

Selected Publications: 

  • "Toward 1391: The anti-Jewish preaching of Ferran Martinez in Seville." Ed. Johnathan Adams and Cordelia Hess. The Medieval Roots of Antisemitism: Continuities and Discontinuities From the Middle Ages to the Present Day. Routledge, 2018, 306-319

  • Jews and Christians in Medieval Castile: Tradition, Coexistence, and Change (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2016).

  • “The Problem of Old Debts: Jewish Moneylenders in Northern Castile (Belorado and Miranda de Ebro, ca. 1300).”  Sefarad 74 (2), 2014, 279-303.

  • “Tamquam domino proprio: Contesting Ecclesiastical Lordship Over Jews in Thirteenth-Century Castile.”  Medieval Encounters 19 (2013), 534-566.

  • “The Castilian Monarchy and the Jews (11th to 13th Century).” Ed. Katherine L. Jansen, G. Geltner, and Anne E. Lester. Center and Periphery: Studies on Power in the Medieval World in Honor of William Chester Jordan. Leiden: Brill, 2013, 39-49.

  • “Beyond Convivencia: Critical Reflections on the Historiography of Interfaith Relations in Christian Spain.”  Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, January 2009.

  • ““You say that the Messiah has come...’: the Ceuta Disputation(1179) and Its Place in Christian Anti-Jewish Polemics of the High MiddleAges.”  The Journal of Medieval History, September 2005.