Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies


Looking back on the NISIS Autumn School 2021

Although we are faced with a lockdown in The Netherlands currently, this fall we all enjoyed some weeks with fewer restrictions. This year’s Autumn School, which took place in Leuven from 8 to 12 November, was one of the events we were able to celebrate live – and what an inspiring and pleasant event it was!

© Ghada Reda

Following up on Ahmed El Shamsy’s widely discussed recent book, Rediscovering the Islamic Classics: How Editors and Print Culture Transformed an Intellectual Tradition (2020), the Autumn School focused on the impact of technological changes on Islamic(ate) primary sources and scholarship not only in the transition from the manuscript to the printing age, but up until the current digital era as well. El Shamsy, a professor at the University of Chicago, opened the school on Monday with a lecture entitled “The availability of Arabic books, 1800 to the present”. Our view of the Arabic written textual heritage, as he pointed out, is skewed by the notion of “classics”: a lot more remains to be discovered!

©Ghada Reda

The other keynote lectures, by Beatrice Gründler (Free University Berlin), Peter Verkinderen (KITAB project London) and Brinckley Messick (Columbia University New York), as well as a workshop on Digital Humanities led by Emad Mohamed (University of Wolverhampton), continued this theme, and the many excellent student and PhD presentations, including from young researchers joining us from Egypt and other parts of the Islamic world, contributed further aspects. As always, it was a pleasure to listen to the NISIS junior members present their ongoing research (on topics as diverse as Islamic theology, the history of Orientalism, Islamic bedtime stories, and Russian Islam, to name just a few), and to welcome the new members. We are looking forward to our next Autumn School, which will be held at the University of Bonn in 2022.

Thanks to Ghada Reda for taking some great pictures during the event!

© Ghada Reda