Keynote Panel The Study of Jewish and Islamic Books as a Challenge to Book History
University of Antwerp/K.001/Fri 19 Sept/10.30-11.45
With Emile Schrijver (University of Amsterdam) and Dagmar Riedel (Columbia University)
Chair: Peter Stallybrass (University of Pennsylvania)
This keynote panel was made possible by the René and Susanne Braginsky-Foundation, Zurich
This panel will explore the state of research on the history of Jewish and Islamic books, respectively. The starting point is the observation that at the moment scholars, librarians, and curators without any prior background in Jewish or Islamic Studies have little opportunity to obtain additional training in Jewish or Islamic books at the prestigious book history programs in the Western world. But Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all three are monotheistic religions that emerged in the Middle East, and their book cultures developed together, over periods of conflict and cooperation, in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Against this backdrop the panelists will examine both commonalities and differences by surveying the manuscript-to-print transition in Jewish and Muslim societies, their traditions of book illustration, and their attitudes to books as utilitarian objects. Their goal is to suggest new terms of engagement for the study of Jewish and Islamic books within book history.
Keynote Panel Re-imagining the Worship of the Book
University of Antwerp/K.001/Sat 20 Sept/15.30 > 17.00
With Abhijit Gupta (Jadavpur University), Julie N. Davis (University of Pennsylvania), Marina Garone (University of Mexico) & Ruth Finnegan (Open University)
Chair: Ian Gadd (President of SHARP)
In 2010, the readers of the The Economist voted the moment when Johannes Gutenberg figured out how to print words on paper as ‘the most pivotal of all time’. When the poll’s results were made public, the magazine cooked up the headline ‘Gutenberg pips Jesus’. In all its innocence, this stroke of editor’s wit may reveal more than it intended. Indeed, don’t we all – avid readers, book historians, bibliophiles, librarians – occasionally take part in a cult of the book, with Gutenberg cast in the role of messiah? The least that can be said is that western book devotees have not always been able to curb their enthusiasm when investigating printed material, tempted as they often are to see the coming of type as the dawning of a new, enlightened, modern age, (and, quite ironically, frequently articulating their passion in a discourse imbued with religious images and rhetoric). The closing plenary session of SHARP 2014 wants to address and challenge the belief(s) and dogmas of the book historian. Its participants have explicitly set out to look for more heretical perspectives and visionary voices to complement the more traditional approaches which up till now may have dominated many of our annual conferences. Each participant has been invited to choose an image which according to him or her significantly challenges a received idea about books, print culture, the materiality of the text, reading, authorship, and so on. In this closing session, these images will provide the starting point for a spirited debate.