PROJECT OF MERIT
Dr. Nuria Ibáñez | College of Arts and Sciences | Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
This on-going project examines how a best-selling Latin pop album resulted in a sudden and significant increase in the obscure medieval Occitan novel which inspired it. The widespread success of El Mal Querer (2018) by Spanish musician Rosalia has generated popular interest in the 13th century novel Le Roman de Flamenca which had previously been confined almost exclusively to the realm of academic interest. El Mal Querer presents the thematic framework of Le Roman de Flamenca – a vindication of the role of woman in love and in society – with a combination of folkloric flamenco stylization and urban musical influences. Rapid increase in consumer demand for the novel since the release of the album has resulted in the production of significantly more copies of Le roman de Flamenca, the publication of a new user-friendly edition by the University of Murcia and an increased demand in interviews with the medieval literature experts who worked to translate the novel. This phenomenon is an example of how contemporary art and popular culture are capable of presenting a piece of cultural patrimony in a socially-relevant way thus allowing for cultural representation in an increasingly homogenized global society. Despite it’s age, one finds that the encyclopedic medieval novel presents themes and concepts still relevant to today’s world such as multiculturalism, gender disparity, domestic abuse and social constructs surrounding romantic love.
This project deals with examining how past, present and future can be bridged through art. I use the example of the award-winning musical album El Mal Querer by Spanish pop artist Rosalia. The album was inspired by a 13th century Occitan novel titled Le Roman de Flamenca. This novel was little-known and largely relegated to the world of academia until the release of El Mal Querer in 2018. During its eight years on the market, the novel sold roughly three hundred copies. Since the 2018 release of El Mal Querer, copies quickly sold out creating a demand for more and for a new user-friendly edition published by the University of Murcia in Spain and expanding the novel’s readership to a large demographic that includes even adolescents. The novel, which was controversial for its time, contains themes which are relevant to today’s society such as jealousy, domestic abuse, forbidden love, multiculturalism, and even proto feminism. Future investigation will focus on different examples of how popular culture can bring historical literature and art into the present in a way that is relevant for society and creates interest for the general public and not just the world of academia. I believe this keeps our history and cultural patrimony truly alive.