Subject groups/Research projects
James's PhD research focuses on problems connected with what has been labelled the early Islamic heresiographical tradition. This currently involves concentrating on two key areas:
1. An attempt to reassesses earlier arguments for the pattern of source-dependency of late ninth and early tenth century heresiographical texts in the light of new evidence and a reconsideration of evidence previously available. This section of my work addresses the extent to which we can access much earlier sources through these texts. Here I endeavour to engage with the question of how older methods of source criticism can be modified to take account of recent results of research into the methods of textual transmission in the ninth century.
2. A contextualisation of the heresiographical tradition within the ninth century Arabo-Islamic textual environment. This involves an analysis of structural and linguistic similarities between these texts and the literature dealing with the doxography of Ancient philosophy, with certain polemical epistles and with the legal tradition of recording the variant opinions of jurists.
Other Professional Activities
James is involved in the Mediterranean and Middle East Network Seminar Series, a project which tries, sometimes successfully, to get us to talk to the lovely people who study medieval southern Europe because the people we study talked to the people they study. Often, we talk about what languages they were speaking when they did so.