9 November 2022: Boris Liebrenz "Constantinople: Capital of Arabic Literature"

Boris Liebrenz will speak within the Gotha Manuscript Talks series: https://www.uni-erfurt.de/en/gotha-research-library/library/current-events/cultural-events/gotha-manuscript-talks/current-events-of-the-gotha-manuscript-talks

For those interested in the manuscript sources of Arabic literature, the rich book collections of Baghdad, Berlin, Cairo, Damascus, Leiden, London, or Princeton can pride themselves with immense treasures. But there is no place to rival the libraries of modern Istanbul in scope and splendor. This talk will look at the roots of this current state, when the Ottoman capital was the main nexus for the trans-regional circulation of Arabic books for nearly half a millennium between the 15th and 19th centuries.

More than a simple point of provenance, Constantinople and the ways books took to and from its markets and book-shelves represents the lives, often rich, sometimes tumultuous, of books and those who interacted with them. As a gravitational center of great attraction for books from all over the vast Ottoman empire and beyond, it was also the source for many who wanted to collect on their own. This paper will highlight some of the central actors in this process, particularly of the 17th and 18th centuries, and show how they helped shape the Arabic literary tradition as we still have it today. Central among these will be Abū Bakr b. Rustam al-Širwānī (d. 1135/1723), one of the era’s most ferocious bibliophiles, whose many books are now scattered all over the world and thus allow us to follow the currents of the book market in every direction.

I will also discuss the basic methodological question of how to write the history of such a book culture. How can we reconstruct the routes a given codex took, the content of libraries, the social settings in which particular texts were circulating?

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Öffentliche Herbstsitzung 2022 09.12.2022 16:00 - 18:00 — GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig, Großer Vortragssaal, Johannispl. 5-11, 04103 Leipzig
11. Sächsischer Heimattag: „Lommatzscher Pflege und das Wilsdruffer Land“ mit Buchpräsentation 10.12.2022 10:30 - 16:00 — Schützenhaus Lommatzsch, Sachsenplatz 3, 01623 Lommatzsch