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Lent Term 2018

Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series

Lent Term, 2018

Unless otherwise arranged and noted below, all seminars take place on Thursdays at 5:15pm in Rooms 8 & 9 in the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies. Admission is free and all are welcome.

[ Series poster ]

  • Thursday, 25th January, 2018 in Rooms 8 & 9 at 5:15pm
    Colonial Collage: Land, Nation and Resistance in Hebrew Avant Garde Poetics
    Dr Chana Morgenstern, University of Cambridge

    This talk will examine the Hebrew modernist poetic collage as a critical innovation that showcases the interplay between colonial, national, biblical, and redemptive discourses of land during the period surrounding the establishment of the Israeli state. Through readings and multilingual mappings, we will look at how these works underscore the contradictions emerging between a space that hovers in scriptural and settler-colonial dreams and the direct experience of colonialism, politics and place in 20th century Palestine.

    Dr Chana Morgenstern is University Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at Cambridge University and a Senior Fellow at Newnham College. She is currently at work on a book manuscript titled, A Literature for All Its Citizens: Anti-Colonial Aesthetics in Israel/Palestine, the first study of the joint Arabic literary movement established by Arab Jewish and Palestinian intellectuals and writers of the Israeli Communist Party from 1948-1965. The book reconstructs this lost cultural archive, arguing that the movement was the earliest cultural alternative to Zionism within Israel.

  • Monday, 29th January, 2018 in the Faculty Common Room, 1.00 - 2.30pm
    ** Please note the special day, venue and timing of this lunchtime talk - and please feel free to bring lunch! **
    Taming the Dissenters: Shiism and the Concept of the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs (al-khulafāʾ al-rāshidūn) in Early Islam
    Dr I-Wen Su, National Chengchi University, Taipei

    This talk derives from the speaker's project, “ʿAlī and early Sunnīs: the Genesis of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs”, which sets out to elucidate the factors that brought all the Sunnīs or proto-Sunnīs together under the belief in the privileged status of the khulafāʾ rashīdūn. The project started in June, 2017. Thus, it is still in its early stage. The talk seeks to entertain one of the aspects covered by this project, that is, how the traditionists labeled as rafḍ, ghuluww, tashayyuʿ, or their derivatives, came to be admitted to the community of the ahl al-sunna wa-l-jamāʿa. As this group tends to be the source of the aḥādīth about ʿAlī’s virtues, when some of them are admitted to the jamāʿa, with their reliability accepted, they become potential contributors to the elevation of ʿAlī to the rank of the khulafāʾ rashīdūn. Thus, how their muḥaddith colleagues assess them provides insights into the process of the reorientation of the Sunnī ideology from the three-caliphs thesis to the four-caliphs thesis.

    Dr I-Wen Su is Assistant Professor at the Department of Arabic Language and Culture, at the National Chengchi University, Taiwan. She holds a PhD in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Edinburgh, with her research focussing on Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani's Kitab al-Aghani. Her publications include "Writing history under the patronage: the representation of Sulaymān b. ‘Abd al Malik in the Ansāb al-ashrāf and its relation to the ‘Abbāsid court culture" (Foreign Language Studies 24 (2016)) and “The Family History of Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī: the Ninth-Century ʿAbbāsid Political Elite and the Ṭālibids in Sāmarrāʾ” (Journal of Islamic Studies, forthcoming).

  • Sunday, 4th February, 2018 in the Cripps Auditorium, Cripps Court, 1-3 Chesterton Rd, CB4 3AD at 7.30pm
    ** Please note the special day, venue and timing of this event **
    Film presentation of Seret Aravit (An Arab Film), and Q&A with the filmmaker
    Eyal Sagee Bezawie, documentary filmmaker and journalist 

    About a year after the Six Days War in 1968, Israel's single television channel began to broadcast a popular Egyptian film each Friday at 6pm. The broadcast, which continued throughout Israel's wars with its Arab neighbors until the early 1990s, became one of the most popular TV programs in Israel, despite the growing animosity toward Arab culture more generally. The film explores this phenomenon and returns viewers to a brief moment of genuine cultural exchange in the Middle East.

    The 60 minute film will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.

  • Thursday, 8th February, 2018 in Rooms 8 & 9 at 5:15pm
    Big and small history in the Genizah: how necessary is the Cairo Genizah to writing the history of the Medieval Mediterranean?
    Dr Ben Outhwaite, University of Cambridge

    As many will know (particularly after my talk), the modern discovery of the vast trove of medieval manuscripts in the Cairo Genizah was an ‘epoch-making event’ in Jewish Studies. The degree to which it has not just filled in gaps in our knowledge of the history of the Jews of the Islamic world, but opened up whole new areas of investigation, is remarkable. The great historian of this world, S. D. Goitein, maintained that the Genizah spoke more widely, however, of a Mediterranean Society that crossed confessional boundaries, and blurred distinctions between Jews, Muslims and Christians, as they all embarked on a shared quest for economic and social stability, and that the manuscripts gave an insight even into ‘the soul of medieval man’. Thirty years after his death, can we agree with Goitein’s claims for universal relevance of the Genizah? How has recent scholarship employed Genizah material? Should we all be reading the manuscripts of the Cairo Genizah?

    Dr Ben Outhwaite has been Head of the Genizah Research Unit in Cambridge University Library since 2006, having worked for the previous seven years as a Genizah researcher. Dr Outhwaite received a B.A. in Hebrew Studies and an M.Phil. in Medieval Hebrew literature from Christ's College, Cambridge. His Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, on the grammatical description of Hebrew letters in the Genizah, was completed under the supervision of Professor Geoffrey Khan. Dr Outhwaite's research interests revolve around Hebrew and its use and transmission in the Middle Ages: the vocalisation traditions of Biblical (and post-biblical) Hebrew, the Medieval Hebrew language (particularly its use as a medium of communication throughout the early Middle Ages) and the documentary history of the communities who deposited manuscripts into the Cairo Genizah.

  • Thursday, 22nd February, 2018 in McCrum Lecture Theratre, Corpus Christi College, Bene't' Street (map)
    at 5:15pm with reception to follow at 7pm

    ** Please note the changed venue and special timing of this event **
    ** Registration in advance is required **
    ** Please also note that the lecture will be filmed **

    Inaugural Lecture: Islam and science in modern Egypt
    Prof. Khaled Fahmy, University of Cambridge

  • CANCELLED - Thursday, 8th March, 2018 in Rooms 8 & 9 at 5:15pm
    ** Because of the ongoing UCU strike, it has been necessary to cancel this seminar **
    Literature as Magic, Magic as Literature: Sirāj al-Dīn al-Sakkākī's Complete Book and a Fragment of Spells
    Dr Emily Selove, University of Exeter

For further information, contact:

Dr Charis Olszok
Lecturer in Modern Arabic Literature and Culture
Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
University of Cambridge

Telephone: +44(0)1223 765083