Susan Shoshan Abraham

PhD Candidate
New Cabell Hall 458
Office Hours:
currently on fellowship through 2025; incoming grad students, feel free to contact me with questions


Ph.D. in Spanish, University of Virginia (expected, spring 2025)
M.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures (Spanish), University of Michigan (2016)
B.A. in Hispanic Studies & Environmental Studies, Illinois Wesleyan University (2008)

Dissertation Project

My dissertation, Narrating Faith Across the Straits: Morisco Manuals of Faith in the Early Modern Mediterranean, focuses on the large Iberian Muslim community (referred to as Moriscos) that settled in Tunisia during the seventeenth century and the religious treatises that circulated among them. Through a study of Morisco legal, doctrinal, and didactic texts written in Arabic, Aljamiado, and Spanish, I argue that Moriscos creatively engaged with works from the North African Islamic tradition while strategically adapting literary forms and tropes rooted in Christian Europe to forge a narrative ethics reflecting their diaspora experience in the Mediterranean. I demonstrate that Morisco textual production shaped a Mediterranean milieu that is otherwise obfuscated by scholarly distinctions which are stubbornly attached to ideas of national, civilizational, and religious difference. Bringing together methodological frameworks from literature, philology, and Islamic studies, my dissertation generates new categories of analysis and criticism that challenge the very category of the “literary” in order to imagine more inclusive models of world literature.

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Early Modern Iberian literature
  • Morisco & Sephardic Studies
  • Premodern Race & Religion
  • Global Hispanophone Studies
  • Mediterranean Studies
  • North African Studies
  • Migration, mobility, & diaspora
  • World Religions & World Literatures

Selected Grants and Awards

  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship – Institute for Citizens & Scholars (2024-2025)
  • Residential Doctoral Fellowship – Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB), Max Weber Foundation (2024-present)
  • Teaching Relief Fellowship – University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2023-2024
  • Clay Graduate Fellow – UVA Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures (2022-2023)
  • Dumas Malone Graduate Research Fellow – UVA Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (2022-2023)
  • CARA Summer Scholarship – The Medieval Academy of America (2022)
  • Summer Research Fellowship – UVA Department of Spanish, Italian & Portuguese (2022)
  • Arts Humanities & Social Sciences Summer Research Fellowship – UVA GSAS (2022)
  • Praxis Fellow in Digital Humanities – University of Virginia Scholars’ Lab (2021-2022)
  • Global South Lab Prospectus Fellow –UVA Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures (2021)
  • Charles Gordon Reid, Jr. Fellowship – UVA Department of Spanish, Italian & Portuguese (2021)
  • Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant – University of Michigan (2015)
  • Medieval and Early Modern Studies Summer Research Award – University of Michigan  (2015)
  • Center for European Studies Summer Research Grant – University of Michigan (2015)
  • Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow in Arabic – U.S. Department of Education  (2013-2014)

Selected Presentations

Invited talks:

“The Translator’s Task: Language, Law, and Pedagogy in the Morisco Diaspora.” Invited talk. Diasporas of Sefarad and al-Andalus: Iberian Questions beyond Iberia, 1492-1700. Symposium at Exeter College, University of Oxford, UK. April 2024.

“Morisco Manuals of Faith in Seventeenth Century Tunisia and their Iberian Echoes.” Invited talk. Colloque Internationale, Arabo-Hispanica II. Comprendre l’autre ou le convaincre? École Pratique des Hautes Étude (EPHE). Paris, France. November 2023.

Conference Presentations:

“The Duty to Translate: Morisco Language Politics and Religious Instruction in Tunisia.” Conference paper. Renaissance Society of America (RSA) Annual Conference. Chicago, Illinois, USA. March 2024.

Farḍ Kifāya in the Morisco Diaspora.” Roundtable Presentation on Religion, Ethnicity, Nation & Race. The Mediterranean Seminar Spring Workshop: Diasporic Legacies. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA. April 2023.

“Movement, Religious Practice & Affective Entanglement in Morisco Diasporic Texts.” Workshop presentation. Respondent: Gerard Wiegers. IS-LE Training School: Late Medieval and Early Modern Migration Routes and Identity Spaces in the Mediterranean. University of Tunis, Tunisia. June 2022.

“Ink, Agency, and the Writing of Truth in a Seventeenth Century Morisco Text.” Conference paper. Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Conference. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. November 2019.

Professional Development

RaceB4Race Mentorship Network Cohort  (2023-2024)
Comparative/World/Global Working Group (UVA), Participating Member (2021)