I want to follow up on the end of yesterday's post and the comments. I find that working on medieval Catalonia can be a weirdly disconnected experience, because Catalan scholarship and international scholarship often have little to do with each other.
As Notorious says of Catalan scholars: "they know their local sources inside and out, and tracking down their footnotes is almost always rewarding." Yes, exactly. But the stuff I read regularly is not much concerned with theoretical frameworks, just as she said. In particular, I see only a few Catalan scholars who pay much attention to gender. That is partly a reflection of the sort of thing I read. Since I'm working on monasticism, I read a lot of things concerned with the institutional history of regional monasteries, or a sort of antiquarian exploration of some local monastic community. This is all useful for me, but I have to do most of the work of relating it to studies of monastic life, patronage, etc. in other parts of Europe myself.
Jonathan Jarrett points out: "for the scholars I read from Catalonia theoretical debates do exist, they just tend not to be the same ones that we worry about. Depending on the scholar, the debate is either with the Castilians or with the French, and often enlisting one against the other." True. I find that at times, too, but I think that's far more true of work on earlier periods--up to 1100 or so--than on the later Middle Ages.
The disconnection goes both ways, though. If Catalan scholars focus on local materials and debates, there are surely good reasons for that; since I often read older (1960s and 70s-era) scholarship, I'm sure there were political reasons for that, too. But among the English and North American authors I read, Catalonia (in fact the whole crown of Aragon) is virtually ignored. The exception is the "feudal transformation" period that Jonathan has been discussing at length. There Catalonia is seen as an interesting case study and discussed in a number of general works. For later periods the relationships among Aragon's three religious cultures are extensively studied, but beyond that few references to anything regarding eastern Spain seem to reach general scholarship. Despite the efforts of recent textbooks, such as Barbara Rosenwein's, to include many regions and cultures, I still get a sense that, for most scholars, France and England are seen as normative, while Spain is strange and exceptional. But even within Spain, clearly Castile is the best exemplar of that exceptionalism, so Catalonia-Aragon can be neglected.
There are in fact quite a few specialists on Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia working in North America. But the region still doesn't seem to be well integrated into most scholars' general understanding of the Middle Ages.