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Recent Publications


ARIC Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture Bernard O'Kane has recently published two chapters in the exhibition catalog of "The World of the Fatimids" currently on show at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto till July 2, 2018. 

The chapters are titled "Monumental Calligraphy in Fatimi Egypt: Epigraphy in Stone, Stucco, and Wood" and "The Egyptian Art of the Tiraz in Fatimid Times"both in "The World of the Fatimids" (exhibition catalog), ed. A.S. Melikian-Chirvani (Aga Khan Museum, Toronto 2018)

PDFs of both chapters are available for download at…/The_Egyptian_Art_of_the_Tiraz_in……/Monumental_Calligraphy_in_Fatimi…


Arabic Literature, 1200-1800: A New Orientation

Adam Talib has recently co-edited a special issue of the Annales Islamologiques (vol. 49) entitled "Arabic Literature, 1200–1800: A New Orientation" with Monica Balda-Tillier of Université Grenoble Alpes. To purchase, click here.


The Rude, the Bad and the Bawdy: Essays in honor of Professor Geert Jan van Gelder, edited by Adam Talib

Adam Talib has recently edited a collection of articles on the topic of ribaldry and obscenity in Arabic literature, classical and modern. These eighteen essays cover a wide range of taboo topics and span the whole history of Arabic literature across several genres. Talib has an essay of his own in this volume, which is a "Festschrift" in honor of Prof. Geert Jan van Gelder (Oxford). For more information, click here.

Review of Kishvar Rizvi, The Safavid Dynastic Shrine: Architecture, Religion and Power in Early Modern Iran (London, 2011), for Journal of Islamic Studies 24 (2013), 371-6. By Bernard O'Kane  
Review of Estelle J. Whelan, The Public Figure: Political Iconography in Medieval Mesopotamia (London 2006), for al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 25 (2013), 380-2. By Bernard O'Kane

Adam Talib's article in Journal of Arabic Literature

Adam Talib, assistant professor of classical Arabic literature in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Civilizations, has a new article in the Journal of Arabic Literature in which he uncovers new evidence about the work of the most important Mamluk-era poet Ibn Nubatah al-Misri and suggests a new way of reading classical Arabic poetry.

"Translating for Bigots" by Adam Talib

Adam Talib, assistant professor of Arabic Literature, Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations, discussed the difficulties often encountered by a translator on presenting one culture to the other. For example, English readers worldwide might not be aware of the Arabic culture. Some of them might tend to stereotype Arabic characters, and may, therefore, perceive the literary text in a different way than the original writer wanted. The lecture pointed out different layers of bigotry among readers and writers, the common stereotypes about Arabs and the translator's choices in different cultural and political contexts.
Adam Talib participates in Translation Slam 

Adam Talib, assistant professor of classical Arabic literature and a literary translator, participated in a Translation Slam sponsored by the British Council, joining Cairo University Professor and translator Randa Abou-bakr and moderated by Neil Hewison of the AUC Press. This was the first such event for Arabic literature. To watch a recording of the event, click on the image.

Adam Talib is a contributor to a newly released essay collection titled History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East 

Adam Talib is a contributor to a newly-released essay collection History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East edited by Philip Wood (Cambridge) and published by Oxford University Press. In his essay, Talib discusses the impact of archaeology on Abbasid depictions of the pre-Islamic city of al-Hira in southern Iraq.

Nelly Hanna, ARIC chair, is delivering the Hamilton A.R. Gibb Lecture Series in Islamic history, social studies and culture at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Over the course of three days, from October 29 to 31, Hanna addresses the global and local roles of 17th and 18th-century Egyptian artisans.

Hanna’s first lecture, titled “17th and 18th-Century Arabic Texts: Colloquial in Language, Scholarly in Genre,” examines centuries-old documentation on Egyptian artisans from linguistic and academic standpoints. Her second lecture, “The Local and the Global in the Lives of 18th-century Artisans,” explores the international dimension of the lives of Egyptian artisans. Her final lecture, “Artisans, Spies and Manufacturers: 18th-Century East-West Transfers of Technology,” focuses on the transfer of know-how from the Middle East to Europe, with emphasis on textile technologies.

"This is a big honor for me and my department," said Nelly Hanna. "It is a privilege for me to be able to talk about a subject that I care so much about to people outside of the establishment, which is the impact of the non-elite on society in the 18th century. This is a subject that I've been working on a lot over the years, one that I believe is deserving of more attention." 

Hanna’s research interests lie in the Ottoman history of the Arab world, with a special focus on the economic, social and cultural aspects of this period. Her interest in this period started with a study of middle-class housing in 17th and 18th-century Cairo, undertaken both as an archival study based on court records and an examination of the architecture of remaining houses. 

"Ottoman history is a critical part of the history of the Arab world," said Hanna. "For long, it has been neglected and misunderstood, both in its own value and in how it ties up to the 19th and 20th centuries. We can learn a lot about today simply by reflecting back on its history and source."

Hanna earned her Doctorate d’Etat at the University of Aix en Provence in France and has been teaching full-time at AUC since 1991. She also served as professor and guest lecturer at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Harvard University and at Waseda University, Tokyo.

The Hamilton A.R. Gibb Lecture Series in Islamic history, social studies and culture was established at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in 1964 with funds generously donated by John Goelet, a student of Professor Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb. It stands as a memorial to Sir Gibb’s longstanding commitment to the expansion and deepening of teaching and research on the Middle East at Harvard and beyond.

Adam Talib. "Pseudo-Ṯaʿālibī's Book of Youths." Arabica. 59:6 (2012). pp. 599–649.
Adam Talib, the assistant professor of classical Arabic literature, has published a study-cum-edition of the collection once thought to be al-Thaʿālibī's Kitāb al-Ghilmān. The article situates this Ottoman-era epigram collection on handsome boys in the context of other notable epigram collection in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. To read the article, click here

Bernard O'Kane: The Illustrated Guide to the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo 
Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art houses one of the richest collections of artifacts from all periods of Islamic history and most parts of the Islamic world. Structured as a guide, but fully illustrated with superb color photographs, this book suggests a simple but comprehensive itinerary through one of Egypt’s most fascinating museums. Over half of its 285 illustrations are of objects that have not been photographed in color previously. Taking readers through the various exhibits, this book explains and illuminates the esthetic and historic importance of the museum’s main works on display, including metalwork, textiles, woodwork, glass, carved stone and ivory, and the art of the book.

Bernard O’Kane: Islamic Inscriptions: Reading Between the Lines Bernard O'Kane, professor at AUC's Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations, documents historic inscriptions found on centuries-old Islamic monuments. For the first time, thousands of inscriptions are recorded in a database and made accessible to scholars from different disciplines, in an effort to preserve narratives of the past.   
ARIC 271 | Islamic Art and Architecture from 1250-1800 
In this course, Professor Bernard O'Kane covers the major artistic and architectural works of Islamic art produced in diverse regions, from Spain to India, in the period from c. 1250 to 1800. The course is designed to help students appreciate Islamic art and architecture, as well as understand how and why it has changed over the centuries in light of varying historical, geographic and social contexts. The course aims to illustrate to students how art historians think and exchange ideas with one another. It also aims to enhance students' visual memory and recall.

Nelly Hanna: Egypt’s History Was Created by Average Citizens, Not Sultans

On October 24, AUC Department Chair and Professor Nelly Hanna officially launched the translation of her book Artisan Entrepreneurs in Cairo and Early-Modern Capitalism into Arabic at a cultural salon held at the National Center for Translation in Zamalek.  The panel discussion was attended by Assem Desouqi, Magdi Guirguis, writers Salwa Bakr and Bashir el-Sebai.

A unique look at the economic history of Egypt, the work follows in detail the developments of artisan and guilds during the 17th and 18th centuries, a period of intensive international trade. It argues that these trading conditions had an impact not only on merchants but also of artisans, especially those who produced key products or products in demand in world markets. The book shows how the evolved capitalist practices both on the individual level and at the level of their guilds as a result of these conditions. At the guild level, Hanna pointed the way that certain prosperous guilds were run like business enterprises; guild members came together to purchase copper and rent it out for use, using the money to purchase even more copper. This, in the opinion of Hanna, is an early example of business development and the accumulation of capital prior to the 19th century.

In spite of guild rules that aimed at equity and fairness amongst guild members, these artisans found ways to circumvent these rules and to enrich themselves. They created working methods that were eventually continued in Muhammad Ali’s modern industries.

Attendees of the salon included a number of the country’s prominent historians and authors, who received the work positively as a step towards rethinking the Euro-centric view of Egypt’s development.