Anthologies and Competing Canonizations: ʿImād al-Dīn al-Īṣfahānī (d. 597/1201) and Abū al-Maʿālī al-Ḥaẓīrī (568/1172) w/ Nathaniel Miller
Arabic literary history of the Seljuq, Fāṭimid, and Ayyūbid periods has been heavily shaped by a series of self-conscious continuations (dhayls) to al-Thaʿālibī’s (d. 429/1038) hugely influential Yatīmat al-dahr, particularly the Dumyat al-qaṣr of al-Bākharzī (d. 476/1075) and the Kharīdat al-qaṣr of ʿImād al-Dīn al-Iṣfahānī (d. 597/1201), a close advisor to Saladin. To a large extent these authors came from a similar milieu of Persian courts and elite urban educational institutions; al-Bākharzī and al-Thaʿālibī were, famously, acquaintances. A fourth text is often adduced, the Zīnat al-dahr of Abū l-Maʿālī al-Ḥaẓīrī (d. 568/1172), whose social profile, that of a Baghdadi book purveyor, was rather different from the other anthologists. ʿImād al-Dīn, during his time in Baghdad, made al-Ḥaẓīrī’s acquaintance during his time in Baghdad in the 550s/1157–1165 and used Zīnat al-dahr as a source for the Kharīda (completed in 573/1178). As Zīnat al-dahr has recently finally been published, al-Ḥaẓīrī and ʿImād al-Dīn’s methods of anthologizing can now be easily compared. My talk will discuss their divergent selection procedures, social networks, and aesthetic concerns.
Nathaniel A. Miller has a PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Chicago (2016) and taught and researched at the University of Cambridge from 2016–2021, where he received a 3-year Leverhulme Early Career post-doctoral fellowship. He is now a research fellow in Arabic Humanities at New York University. His research focuses on poetic interpretation of space and geography in two periods, the early Islamic (500–750) and Ayyūbid (1171–1250). His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Arabica, Mediterranean Studies, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, BSOAS, and al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā.
To register, please email us at: [email protected]
with the subject: Miller Seminar
Sociohistorical and Cultural Relations in Premodern Mediterranean Societies through Literature and Folklore between the 11th and 17th Centuries
15th & 16th of June, 2023
The pre-modern Mediterranean was composed of diverse ethnic groups, religions and societies, making it a rich environment for ethnoreligious and sociocultural exchange. Increased access to digitised manuscript collections and fragmentary archive provides exciting opportunities to consider the relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims across the Mediterranean through the investigation of literary materials – poems, fables, folk stories, legends, and myth, as well as the sentiments expressed in manuscripts, documents, letters, and personal accounts. An example is the fragments of medieval and early modern Arabic poetry from the Genizah collection, from which the APCG team at Trinity College Dublin study the sociocultural and intellectual life of the Jewish community and the mutual influence between the Muslim and Jewish cultures.
The Genizah fragments represent literary history which covers almost a thousand years of cultural production, giving insights into the multicultural aspects of the Mediterranean societies of the day, demonstrating a significant cultural exchange through, inter alia, poetic literature. This conference thus seeks papers on the theme of the educational and historical context of relations and between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, among others, through analysing the above works of high culture and mainstream literature. It also aims to uncover new perspectives on their sociocultural relations and exchanges, and highlight the extent of their interdependency.
In the same context, collections of medieval and early modern fragments and manuscripts, including letters, legal or official documents, diwans of poetry, mythic tales or fables, popular histories, or personal narratives, are accessible through numerous libraries and archives. An examination of these documents reveals aspects of the “micro” and “macro” historical relations across the Mediterranean. Studying individual documents or works of literature can both present unique perspectives and reveal particular challenges to a balanced interpretation of the nature of intercommunal relations, or to educational and cultural dependencies as they were realised through diverse communities over periods of hundreds of years in the pre-modern Mediterranean.
Through this conference, we seek to bring together scholars, including PhD researchers of various disciplines, including, but not limited to, History (especially sociocultural and educational histories), Literature, Philology, Anthropology, Manuscript Sciences, Archaeology, Philosophy, Sociology, Theology and Religious Studies including papers focusing on theory and methodology. We are looking forward to engaging discussions on the opportunities and challenges inherent in diverse subjects for the purpose of writing history. The convenors plan to publish an open-access volume of papers on the theme of the Conference, particularly Jewish-Christian-Muslim sociocultural and educational histories in the pre-modern Mediterranean.
The conference committee will be pleased to accept 20-minute research papers. Themes may include but are not limited to:
- relationships between Jews, Christians, and Muslims through literature (especially poetry), culture, and languages;
- inter-communal relations across the Mediterranean through social and educational history;
- literary and cultural exchanges;
- evidence of interrelations through travel literature;
- education and pedagogy: How did the educational and pedagogical systems of each religion reflect shared virtues and intercultural aspects while simultaneously exhibiting discrete differences?
- prominent myths and prophecies of the relationships and communications between Jews, Christians, Muslims and other Mediterranean communities;
- popular images of interactions between minority and majority communities, particularly through literature, fragments, travels and folklore
- morality and ethics;
- archaeological evidence of sociocultural and educational relations;
- influences of intellectual communications on medicine, science, nature etc
- dynamics between popular and academic perceptions of relationships between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, among others;
- the construction of communications between Jews, Christians and Muslims in encyclopaedias, documentaries, images, and texts
Abstract of Paper and Panel Proposals:
We welcome proposals for papers and panels. Paper proposals should consist of an approximately 250-300 word abstract and a brief biographical note, including research interests and the most relevant publications. Panel proposals should nominate a chair for the session and include a session abstract, title and a brief abstract for each participant’s paper, along with a brief bio.
Costs and Publication:
A bursary will be provided towards travel and accommodation costs and the selected papers will be published in an open-access volume.
We look forward to welcoming you to the event!