Admission to an MA programme of Leiden University. Students without prior knowledge of Islam are expected to have read before the first class: Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2000; or later editions).
This course looks at the production and transmission of knowledge in the Muslim world by examining how medieval Arabic texts are constructed and transmitted from the manuscript era into the internet age through processes of production and consumption. How are texts shaped and what processes and traditions are involved in the construction of texts, their publication, preservation and use? We will examine the technical conditions of Arabic text production such as copying, printing and computer technologies, as well as the role of authors, readers, patrons, teachers, scholars, booksellers, traders, collectors, and librarians in the shaping of the Arabic textual canon that we have at our disposal in the present. We will also look at how texts are (re)produced, altered, and (re)interpreted as they are copied, read, recited, taught, or quoted in other texts, and at how changing notions of authority, originality, tradition and modernity have impacted these processes. Materials used in this course include original samples from the rich Leiden manuscript collection as well as other kinds of text production in the Muslim world (recordings, internet publications, etc.).
Particular focuses include: (1) the internal history of texts: manuscripts and the methodology of accounting for variant readings in critical editions; (2) traditions of editing; (3) reception: the ways in which older sources are quoted, paraphrased or otherwise incorporated into the works of later authors and the methods of studying such intertextual phenomena; (4) the function of written texts, issues of oral versus written transmission and textual authority; (5) the impact of modernity: the effects of technological innovations, as well as social changes, such as the democratisation of knowledge, and the influence of English.
to develop the skills and insights that are necessary to evaluate existing research on the topic of the course;
to understand how critical editions are made and to be aware of the different methodologies and theories involved in preparing editions;
to gain insights into the evolution of Islamic scholarship and changing attitudes towards authorship, textual ownership and criticism;
to produce well-formulated and well-organised answers to academic questions on the basis of secondary and primary material;
to become familiar with the main reference works used in the study of Islamic book culture and knowledge transfer;
to navigate central issues involved in the transmission of Arabic texts in the Muslim world;
to report on research findings orally and in writing, in accordance with the basic standards of humanities scholarship.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. If the student will miss a class for a good reason (e.g. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits) the convener(s) must be informed beforehand. In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course to decide about compensation for the missed class with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.
Assessment and weighing
|Six written assignments of 1000-1500 words each||78%|
The weighted average forms the final mark for this course. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (= 6) or higher. The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.
Assessment of the assignments
The grades of the assignments are established on the basis of a review of:
Demonstration of knowledge and the use of secondary literature;
Presentation and consistency of arguments;
Communication: number of words, language, lay-out.
Feed-back on assignments will be given in Brightspace.
In order to pass the course, students must have completed all six written assignments. In case of an overall mark of 5.49 or lower, students can redo up to two assignments in consultation with the convenor. The convenor will assign a new deadline for the submission of these rewritten assignments. It is not possible to re-sit the oral presentation and the in-class participation.
If a student requests in writing a review of his/her examination answer script within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.
F. Déroche, Islamic Codicology: An Introduction to the Study of Manuscripts in Arabic Script (London: Al-Furqan Foundation, 2005).
Additional literature will be provided via Brightspace and/or a reserve shelf in the University Library.
Optional (see above): Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2000; or later editions).
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office de Vrieshof.