7 July 2023
Thinking with Islamicate Manuscripts: Critical Approaches to Historical Methodology, History of Collections, and Digital Tools In Islamic Studies
How is thinking and working with a manuscript different from working with an edited text? What challenges arise from a codex containing multiple texts with different dates and authors? How does ‘archival turn’ and social history of the collections inform how we approach manuscripts contained in them? How can digital tools be helpful in editing a text that differs from manuscript to manuscript? These are just some of the important methodological questions that students hoping to work with Islamic manuscripts face when embarking on research or while in the field, often without any recourse to practical guidance.
The proposed course will explore these and other questions by focusing specifically on how to think and work with Islamicate manuscripts, with an emphasis on the sources in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian from Central Asia and the Middle East (c. 1200-c. 1700). It will address cutting-edge methodological issues in the cross-section of Islamic and manuscripts studies, ‘archival turn’ in the histories of Eurasia, and digital humanities to offer a unique hands-on training experience for graduate students embarking on or already in the midst of fieldwork, researchers, as well as archival professionals. It aims to equip participants with methodological and conceptual insights (through readings, lectures, and discussions) as well as practical experience (through workshop sessions) in thinking and working with manuscripts, and also to provide feedback on participants’ projects by leading experts in the field (in seminars devoted to project presentations).
Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Vienna, Austria
Bruno De Nicola
Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria
advanced undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs
archivists and curators of collections with Islamicate manuscript holdings
specialists in digital humanities and cultural heritage management
3 years of completed BA studies in Middle Eastern History or Islamic Studies (or a related field)
basic knowledge of Arabic, Persian, or Ottoman Turkish
In the first part of the course, participants will explore methodologies and tools for critical manuscript research, including the difference between ‘text’ and ‘manuscript,’ the relationship between the text and paratext, the importance of genre and codicological features of a manuscript, etc. In the second part, the course would explore manuscripts in context, examining their existence in particular collections and absence in others; evidence of mobility; the identity of the scribes and possessors can tell us about their social history as well as the history of the collections. Finally, in the third part, we will explore questions of digital humanities and cultural heritage and their implications for the future of Islamicate manuscript studies.
A Certificate of Attendance is also awarded at full attendance.
EUR 270: Early bird fee payable until April 30
EUR 300: Full fee payable until May 28
Financial aid is available.