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 given shape 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 while being copied, read, recited, taught, or quoted in other texts, and at how changing notions of authority, originality, tradition and modernity have impacted these processes. Material used in this course includes 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) 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; (3) the function of written texts, issues of oral versus written transmission and textual authority; (4) 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 navigate central issues involved in the transmission of Arabic texts in the Muslim world;
to understand how critical editions are composed 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 become familiar with the main reference works used in the study of Islamic book culture and knowledge transfer;
to produce well-formulated and well-organised answers to academic questions on the basis of secondary and primary material;
to report on research findings orally and in writing, in accordance with the basic standards of humanities scholarship.
Mode of instruction
Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the conveners and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.
In class instruction maximum 26 hours. Self-study preparing classes and making assignments 254 hours (10 ects) or 84 hours (5 ects).
Six written assignments 70%
Discussion and Participation 30%
The final grade for the course is the weighted average of the partial results. (For administration purposes only an “exam” has been created in uSis. Please register in order to receive your grade.)
In order to pass the course, students must have completed all six written assignments to obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.
F. Déroche, Islamic Codicology: An Introduction to the Study of Manuscripts in Arabic Script. London: al-Furqan Foundation, 2005.
Optional (see above): Karen Armstrong. Islam: A Short History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2000 (or later editions).
Additional literature will be provided via Blackboard and a reserve plank in the University Library.
All students are required to register through uSis before August/January 15. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.
Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs
(Studeren à la carte is not possible for this course.)
Students with disabilities
The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.
Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).