DS Events at the Institute

2021

September 16, 12:00 noon: The Author's VoiceSasanian Iran: A Personal ViewMichael R. Jackson Bonner, Canadian writer, political adviser and independent historian of Iran. I will discuss how I came to write The Last Empire of Iran and why. My main motivation was to portray the Sasanian state as the great world power that it was, and to situate it properly between Rome and the nomad powers of Inner Asia. The talk will address the classicising and Perso-Arabic historiographical traditions, but special emphasis will be given to Armenian and Syriac sources also. Discussion will cover some of the key themes of the book, including: the origins of the Sasanian state; the wider context of Eurasian history; interactions between Iran and the world of the steppe; and, finally, historiographical problems and the use of sources. A recording of this event can be seen here.

Hosted by Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS).

October 27, 12 noon: Where to Find Millions of Books and How to “Read” Them: HathiTrust and HTRC, Ryan Dubnicek, Digital Humanities Specialist, HathiTrust Research Center. This workshop will introduce attendees to the HathiTrust Research Center’s tools and services for utilizing the massive HathiTrust Digital Library for computational text analysis. The HTRC leverages the scope and scale of the HathiTrust corpus to allow researchers the opportunity to perform text data mining. A recording of this event can be seen here.

November 10, 12:00 noon, Near Eastern Studies and Digital Scholarship@IAS joint lecture. The Study of Pre-modern Hebrew Philosophical and Scientific Terminology as a new Chapter in the Intellectual History of Europe and the Islamicate World:  PESHAT in Context. Speakers: Giuseppe Veltri (University of Hamburg), Reimund Leicht (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Michael Engel (University of Hamburg) and Florian Dunklau (University of Hamburg).

PESHAT in Context (www.peshat.org) is a long-term research project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and located at the University of Hamburg and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It investigates the formation and development of pre-modern philosophical and scientific terminology in the Hebrew language in its multi-cultural and multi-linguistic context(s). From a historical point of view, Hebrew philosophical and scientific terminology evolved from various attempts to re-formulate the intellectual culture that had developed among Jews in the Arabic-speaking Islamicate world in a new linguistic form and to make it accessible to new audiences. The formation of the “philosophers’ Hebrew” is thus a border-transcending phenomenon with roots in the Arabic-speaking world and reaching out to the intellectual history of medieval Europe. It is one of the major aims of PESHAT in Context to document and analyze the migration of philosophical and scientific concepts and idea through the study of the development of Hebrew terminology within its multilinguistic background. For this purpose, PESHAT in Context has created a multilingual digital thesaurus of philosophical and scientific terms accessible online, which is technologically founded on a newly developed database program. As a project in modern digital humanities, it provides tools and a unique platform to access a wide range of digital resources relevant for the linguistic, terminological and conceptual study of philosophy and science in Europe and the Islamicate world. 

December 9, 12:00 noon: The Author's VoiceAsh‘arism Encounters Avicennism: Sayf Al-Dīn Al-Āmidī (d. 631/1233) on CreationLaura Hassan, Associate Faculty Member, Faulty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford.  Competing theories about the origins of the cosmos have always entailed distinctive and often antithetical conceptions of who, or what, caused it. Sayf al-Dīn al-Āmidī developed his doctrine of creation at a particularly poignant moment in Islamic intellectual history, in which the traditions of theology (kalām) and Hellenised philosophy (falsafa) were forced into an encounter which would permanently alter the theological landscape. In this talk, taking impetus from the case of al-Āmidī, I consider the options available for intellectuals who, like him, encounter a system of thought which is both rationally and theologically compelling, but which also threatens to undermine entrenched convictions. A recording of this event can be seen here.

Hosted by Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS).

2022

Hidden Stories: Books along the Silk Roads: In a landmark exhibition co-curated by Suzanne Conklin Akbari (IAS School of Historical Studies) and Filiz Çakır Phillip (Aga Khan Museum) along with a team of experts, step in to learn more about books along the Silk Roads and their hidden stories. Along the Silk Roads, people travelled: merchants and scholars and pilgrims, knowledge-seekers and diplomats and spies. Goods travelled: silk, gold, ivory, porcelain, paper, furs, and amber. Stories, ideas, and skills travelled. And books travelled, too.

Explore the Hidden Stories: Books Along the Silk Roads digital exhibit with videos and extended content at https://hiddenstories.library.utoronto.ca/exhibits/show/hidden-stories-books/welcome. You can also take a virtual walk through of the gallery at the Aga Khan Museum at   https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=K4vECqyTrPD .

A two-day virtual symposium Hidden Studies: Global History, Local Networks will be held on February 24 and 25.  For additional details and registration visit:  https://www.agakhanmuseum.org/programs/hidden-stories-global-history-lo… 

March 10The Author's VoiceAngels Hastening: The Karbalāʾ Dreams, Christopher Clohessy, resident faculty member of Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI), and visiting lecturer at the Pontifical Beda College also in Rome. When, on an autumn Medina night in 61/680, the night that saw al-Ḥusayn killed, Umm Salama was torn from her sleep by an apparition of a long-dead Muḥammad, she slipped effortlessly into a progression of her co-religionists who, irrespective of status, gender or standing with God, were the recipients of dark and arresting visions. At the core of those Delphian dreams, peopled by angels or ğinn or esteemed forbears and textured with Iraqi dust and martyrs’ blood, was the Karbalāʾ event. Her dream would be recounted by an array of Muslim scholars, from al-Tirmiḏī, stellar pupil of al-Buḫārī, and Ibn ʿAsākir, untiring chronicler of Syrian history, to bibliophile theologian Ibn Ṭāʾūs and Egyptian polymath al-Suyūṭī. But this was not Umm Salama’s only otherworldly encounter and she was not the only one to have al-Ḥusayn’s fate disturb her nights. This presentation will explore their story.  A recording of this event can be seen here.

Hosted by: Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS)

April 1Simtho: Hands-on Workshop in Syriac Corpus Search. The aim of the workshop is to introduce users to the world of Simtho [simtho.bethmardutho.org], the online Syriac Thesaurus corpus portal. The workshop consists of four lectures, each followed by a hands-on lab in zoom rooms with the instructors. Lab attendees must have proficiency in reading Syriac texts, and must attend the entire webinar without other distractions. Sponsored by NES and DS at the Institute for Advanced Study and Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute.

April 27: Near Eastern Studies and Digital Scholarship@IAS joint lecture, The Preservation of Documentary Heritage in the MENASA Region: The Role of the QNL, Stephane Ipert, LL.M., Director of distinctive collections at the Qatar National Library (QNL), a unique collection of rare books, manuscripts, maps and archival collections about Qatar and the Islamic world. Since 2015 the QNL is the IFLA PAC - Preservation and Conservation Center for Arabic countries and Middle East, (IFLA is the International Federation of Libraries Associations). Stephane has a background as conservator, art historian and lawyer. He is leading a regional project to counter documentary heritage trafficking in the MENASA region (Himaya) since 2021.  

June 23: The Author's VoiceThe symbolic language of Ethiopian crosses: Explorations through form and ritualMaria Evangelatou, Professor of Mediterranean Studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department, at the University of California Santa Cruz.  Ethiopia is unique in the world for the incomparable prominence of the cross in the life of its Orthodox Christian population. Crosses of unparalleled intricacy and sophistication are extensively used in religious and magic rituals, as well as in the daily social interactions and personal experiences of people in diverse contexts. A close contextual analysis of select visual material suggests that Ethiopian crosses can be read as visual discourse on a broad range of ideas: from religious beliefs about protection and salvation to interrelated socio-political values regarding order and power, and from individual and collective notions of identity to cultural notions of local and universal history. Thus, the cross emerges as the sacred matrix that encompasses the life of the world in both its microcosmic and macrocosmic dimensions; and as the social and cultural nexus through which and with which people interact in order to shape and express personal and communal identities and hopes. Register in advance here. After registering, you will receive an email containing information about joining the event.

Hosted by: Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS)

September 29The Author's VoiceThe Perils and Joys of writing on the Arabs before Islam, Ayad Al-Ani, Professor for Change Management and Consulting, Associate Member of the Einstein Centre Digital Future, Berlin, and Professor extraordinary at the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University.  For a political scientist, the contradictory themes surrounding the Arabs and their region before the coming of Islam often seem strange and incomprehensible. Although there are no major barriers posed by rivers or mountain ranges, numerous civilizations are identified in the region each with their own language. As such, there is little opportunity for an Arab identity to emerge among those groups, despite the fact the Arabs themselves, as well as the Romans, seemingly had no problem identifying "Arabs". Some discussions on the theme have revealed a hesitancy in delineating the Arab language and script before the 5th century, rendering the appearance of the Qur’an mysterious. The majority of Arabs in the Roman East were Christians by this same period, and some still believe that monotheistic informants of the prophet need to be identified. Once these contradictions are unraveled a fascinating longue durée of events can emerge, which provides a common historical space between the East and the West, with religious ideas flowing from the periphery to the center. This talk will explore the process of dealing with these and other contradictions by adding a political and sociological lens to this stretch of history which focuses on the disappearance of the Arabs from history before Islam, their sudden appearance behind the banners of the Prophet, and the powerful and traumatic effect this emergence into world history has had on the relationship between the Arabs and the West. Register in advance here. After registering, you will receive an email containing information about joining the event.

Hosted by: Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS).

December 8The Author's VoiceThrough the Prism of Wisdom: Elijah the Prophet as a Bearer of Wisdom in Rabbinic LiteratureHilla N. Alouf-Aboody, an independent scholar of Second Temple literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinic texts, who holds a PhD in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University. This presentation will explore the nature of the Elijah traditions in rabbinic literature and their connection to the wisdom tradition. By examining the diverse Elijah traditions in connection to the wisdom and apocalyptic traditions, I aim to shed new light on the manner in which Elijah’s role developed in rabbinic literature. Register in advance here. After registering, you will receive an email containing information about joining the event.

Hosted by: Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS)