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Scholars, Scribes, and Readers: An Advanced Course in Arabic Manuscript Studies6-10 June 2016, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, UK

The Islamic Manuscript Association, in cooperation with Cambridge University Library and the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, is pleased to announce an advanced short course in manuscript studies, entitled Scholars, Scribes, and Readers: An Advanced Course in Arabic Manuscript Studies, which will be held at Cambridge University Library from 6 to 10 June 2016.

This intensive five-day course is intended for researchers, librarians, curators, and anyone else working with Islamic manuscripts. As an advanced course, it is particularly aimed at those who already have some experience in Islamic codicology and palaeography and all participants must have a good reading knowledge of Arabic. The course will focus on Arabic-language manuscripts from various regions, including historical Turkey, Iran, and India. It is hoped that this advanced course will allow participants to gain greater exposure to and familiarity with the vast array of practices encountered in Arabic manuscripts.

The workshop will consist of three days of illustrated, interactive lectures on selected manuscripts and two days of hands-on sessions focusing on a selection of manuscripts from the Cambridge University Library collection. The manuscripts selected for presentation by the instructor cover the whole range of scribal practices encountered in a variety of subjects/genres, geographical regions, and historical periods (see the programme for details).

Those who attend the interactive lectures can expect to:

Learn how to evaluate the authenticity and quality of transmitted texts through analyzing various carefully selected manuscripts, and the data contained therein.

Those attending the full course, including both the lectures and hands-on sessions, can expect to:

Be able to apply in practice the acquired theoretical knowledge from the interactive lectures.
Conduct detailed examination of all aspects of the selected manuscripts.
Consult manuscripts from a variety of subjects/genres and scribal practices from different regions and historical periods.
Work in groups of three, guided by the instructor, to put together a detailed description of a manuscript and communicate your findings to the whole class.
Receive feedback on your description from the instructor and engage in open discussions about each group’s findings.
Gain greater confidence in deciphering sometimes puzzling phenomena encountered in manuscripts; in other words, participants will become better “detectives”.

The course will be led by Adam Gacek, a retired faculty lecturer and former head of the Islamic Studies Library, McGill University, who is the author of a sizeable corpus of publications on Islamic manuscripts, including The Arabic Manuscript Tradition: a Glossary of Technical Terms and Bibliography (2001, 2008 – Supplement), and Arabic Manuscripts: a Vademecum for Readers (2009).

Please note that the hands-on sessions are limited to twelve persons for conservation and pedagogical reasons. Participants can choose to attend the full five day course, including lectures and hands-on sessions, or the three days of lectures only. There is no attendance limit for the lectures. All instruction will be in English.