Boris Liebrenz (Universität Leipzig)
Thursday, 05. March 2015, 19:00-21:00
Our knowledge of the history, ideas, and beliefs of the past relies heavily on written literary sources. These did not reach us through the printed text-editions we largely use today but before the impact of the printing press, and in the case of historical Bilād al-Shām well into the 19th century, through manuscripts. A manuscript was copied and transmitted because someone cared to read, hear, or possess it, which makes the audience of literature the soundboard without which we could not hear the voices of the past. Yet the audience is also the most elusive player in the production circle of the books we read. The manuscripts of Ottoman-era Bilād al-Shām contain numerous traces of their possessors and readers that allow us to follow their trail in unprecedented detail.
In the last years, a number of scholars have begun to treat books as material objects that tell the story of their use and transmission.
This lecture will survey new approaches and recent scholarship that promises to let us see with much more clarity than before how books were transmitted and used in the region.
Boris Liebrenz, Dr. des., Leipzig University, is a post-graduate researcher at the Leipzig-based research-network WRoTe (Wissensrohstoff Text). Liebrenz studied History and Arabic philology at Leipzig University where he finished his Magister in 2008 with a published study on the history of Oriental manuscript collections in Early Modern Europe from the 16th to the 19th century. His recently defended dissertation was centered on book culture and library history in Ottoman Syria. Liebrenz has published on the history of Orientalist scholarship, early Arabic documents, manuscript studies, as well as the social and cultural history of the Syrian provinces of the Ottoman Empire.
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