Saturday, 07. October 2023, 19:00-21:00
Prof. Dr. Christian Lange (Utrecht University)
Prof. Maher Jarrar (AUB)
Pleasant smells and olfactory conoisseurship form an important theme in the literary and religious cultures of the early modern Near and Middle East. Nurtured by a centuries-old tradition of celebrating the human ability to appreciate aromatic scents, knowledge of how olfaction works and of what it says about the human condition was a staple among the educated elite. However, olfactory sensibilities differed significantly along esthetic, epistemological and religious lines. While poets continued to deploy sophisticated olfactory conceits, philosophers were involved in debates about the materiality or immateriality of smell; mystics speculated about the nexus between olfaction, divine immanence and salvation; and legally-minded individuals worried about the ethical and theological implications of perfume. Examining the works of a number of philosophers, mystics and legal scholars, this lecture aims to reveal the intricate layers of meaning that undergirded olfactory thought across falsafa, taṣawwuf and fiqh in the 11th/17th century.
Christian Lange studied Islamic and Religious Studies at Tübingen University, Cairo University, EHESS Paris, and Harvard University. Having worked at the University of Edinburgh from 2007, since 2011 he is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. His publications include Justice, Punishment, and the Medieval Muslim Imagination (CUP, 2008, Arabic translation at Dar al-Madar al-Islami, 2016) and Paradise and Hell in Islamic Traditions (CUP, 2016).
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