Institut français
d’archéologie orientale - Le Caire


Conférence hors-cadres

In the Margins and between the Lines:

Towards a Social History of Medieval Arabic Manuscripts

Konrad Hirschler

Monday, December 11, 6 pm at the IFAO

Visuel Hirschler


Abstract :

Over the past decades the manuscript has gained a new position in historical scholarship, including in Arabic history. Rather than seeing it as the supposedly neutral carrier of a given text, scholarship has increasingly turned to the individual manuscript as an artefact to be studied in its own right – even if it is a rather unspectacular and ‘run-off-the-mill’ manuscript on the shoddy end of manuscript culture. In consequence, what had been seen as ephemeral and marginal to the manuscript has moved into the mainstream focus of scholarly interests, e.g. paratextual notes (be it on ownership or transmission) as well as scribbles by manuscript users. These marginalia have turned out to play a crucial role in order to see manuscripts in their specific social and cultural contexts. This lecture takes up this recalibration in scholarship to discuss the example of a late 15th-century Damascene book collection. By discussing the trajectories and the provenance of this collection’s manuscripts, it considers the different stages of their life cycles which are discernible on their folia.

The lecture is public and the entrance is free of charge within the limit of available places.
The lecture will be followed by a discussion with the public and a cocktail.

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Konrad Hirschler:


Professor at the Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin.

Research domains :

- Medieval Middle Eastern History (c. 1000 to 1500 CE), particular reference to Egypt & Syria;

- history of the archive; manuscript studies;

- history of the Middle East in the period of the Crusades;

- comparative history of reading and history of the book.