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Michaelmas Term 2017

Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series

Michaelmas Term, 2017

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, 19th October, 2017
    Teaching Persian in Colonial Calcutta
    Dr Arthur Dudney, University of Cambridge

    From the 1780s, the East India Company took an active interest in teaching Persian to its employees. Persian was the language of most record-keeping, formal correspondence, and courts of law in northern India at the time, and it was a crucial skill for young officers to master. At first, Indians and Europeans used the same curriculum anchored in the same manuscript tradition, but eventually some enterprising Europeans found that they could make money by printing editions of Persian pedagogical texts, often under Company patronage. These were distinguished from the manuscripts by their higher price but also by having been "corrected" by European intervention (sometimes with additional commentaries or translations provided). This talk uses a list of book prices from 1816 found in a manuscript in the British Library to show how printed and manuscript pedagogical materials co-existed in colonial Calcutta.

    Arthur Dudney is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University, from August 2015 until August 2018. His three-year research project aims to write a history of Persian literary education, focussing on places like India where Persian was culturally important but not the local language of everyday life. Before joining Cambridge, he was a TORCH Early Career Fellow (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford), pursuing new research on the history of philology in South Asia.

  • Thursday, 16th November, 2017
    Doing emotions in Medieval Arabic
    Prof. Julia Bray, University of Oxford

    The history of emotions is an established and growing field in European studies. Why would it be good to establish it in medieval Arabic? What problems and approaches have been identified so far?

    Julia Bray did her BA and DPhil in Arabic at Oxford and went on to teach at the universities of Manchester, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Paris—8 Saint-Denis before returning to Oxford in 2012 as the first woman to hold the Laudian Chair of Arabic (established four years after the Sir Thomas Adams chair in Cambridge). Her interest in the history of emotions was triggered by a series of lectures given by Barbara Rosenwein, which gave rise to a couple of exploratory articles in IJMES (2016) and the Journal of Abbasid Studies (2017), and in summer 2017 she took part in two conference panels on the emotions in medieval Arabic, at Umea in Sweden (the International Society for Cultural History) and Ghent in Belgium (Society for the Medieval Mediterranean). With a group of panel members she plans to continue working on a broad front on developing the field within Arabic studies and making it known to outside audiences.

  • Thursday, 23rd November, 2017
    Monuments, memory and misinterpretation: the temple of Zeus, or throne of Bilqis, in Athens
    Dr Elizabeth Key Fowden, University of Cambridge

    Islamic Athens is a pairing of words that seems more paradoxical than historical. But despite present appearances, the great monuments of classical Athens were not frozen in time. For nearly four hundred years these buildings were an organic part of the evolving Ottoman city, animated by Islamic uses and narratives. This paper will focus on the precinct known today as the Olympieion in order to explore problems arising from multiple, conflicting interpretations of the precinct, and the European response to the Islamic past in Athens.

    Elizabeth Key Fowden is an affiliated researcher at the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Gerda Henkel Stiftung Scholar 2013-2017). She is also Senior Researcher on the ERC-funded project 'Impact of the Ancient City', based in the Faculty of Classics, with Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (PI) of Classics and Prof. Amira Bennison (Advisory Board).

  • Thursday, 30th November, 2017
    Arabian Tribalisms in Late Antiquity: Re-evaluating the Poetic Evidence
    Dr Nathaniel Miller, University of Cambridge

    This talk focuses on the phenomenon of competing tribal regionalisms in pre-Islamic Arabia using poetic texts. It is based on Dr Miller's dissertation, which he is currently revising into a book, under the title Tribal Culture in Early Arabic Society.

    Nathaniel Miller holds a BA in English literature from St Olaf College in Minnesota and MA, also in English, from Indiana University. From 2007-2010, he lived, worked and studied Arabic in Cairo and Alexandria, before completing his PhD at the University of Chicago in 2016. He is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Dept of Middle Eastern Studies, and his project, "The Poetics of Sunnism in the Crusades-Era Mediterranean and Near East", deals with a twelfth century anthology of Arabic poetry.

    Come along and celebrate the end of term with what promises to be a fascinating talk accompanied by mince pies and the usual refreshments! All are welcome to join us for dinner afterwards.

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