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call for papers

Knowledge and Language in Middle Eastern Societies

Cambridge Symposium on Middle Eastern Studies

16th - 18th October, 2009

Call for Papers

The Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, invites papers to be presented at the second international Symposium on Middle Eastern Studies. As with last year’s conference, the topic will be ‘Knowledge and Language in Middle Eastern Societies’. Papers can cover any period or region in Middle Eastern Studies broadly defined. We encourage papers to reflect on broader methodological or disciplinary questions of interest to the field, focusing on, but not limited to, the following topics:

1. Language, society and politics: How do our conceptions of language inform our understanding of identity? On what terms do we define ‘language’ in the Middle East? What are the social and political consequences of diglossia or polyglossia? What do literary texts tell us about language and identity?

2. Linguistic, historiographical, and literary analysis: How do grammar and syntax inform or even determine our study of society? How has the philological approach affected the development of Middle Eastern Studies? Are ostensibly Western hermeneutic models helpful in the reading of Middle Eastern literature? What are the consequences of applying narratological analysis to historiographical texts?

3. Transmission and classification of knowledge: How does the materiality of text and manuscript affect the transmission of knowledge and what does codicology add to our understanding of this process? How do borders, contacts, translations, and liminalities influence the transmission and classification of knowledge? To what extent do curricula, canons, and classification – both past and present – determine our understanding of these processes?

4. Production and distribution of religious and secular ideas: How do texts produce or control knowledge? How do we differentiate between spheres of knowledge, for instance between the religious and secular or between rationality and revelation? How do we understand the relationship between ‘popular’ and ‘elite’ knowledge?

Graduate students are encouraged to apply. Abstracts should be sent by email to the committee ( latest by 10th April, 2009. Submissions should be no more than 300 words in MS Word or PDF format, and should include your name, affiliation and academic institution. Each speaker will be allotted 20 minutes for the presentation followed by 10 minutes for questions. Applicants will be notified as soon as possible. The University of Cambridge will provide complimentary accommodation to speakers

We look forward to receiving your submissions. Thank you.

Matthew Keegan, James Weaver, Ignacio Sanchez (Organising Committee)
Prof. Yasir Suleiman, Prof. Geoffrey Khan, Dr Christine Van Ruymbeke (Advisory Committee)