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Leiden Lectures on Arabic Language and Culture (2017)

A Forgotten Heyday of Arabic Culture: Literary Life in Mamluk Syria and Egypt (1250-1517 CE)

  • Thomas Bauer
Thursday 2 February 2017
Leiden Lectures on Arabic Language and Culture
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden
Small Auditorium

On Thursday 2 February Thomas Bauer will deliver the fifth Leiden Lecture on Arabic Language and Culture entitled "A Forgotten Heyday of Arabic Culture: Literary Life in Mamluk Syria and Egypt (1250-1517 CE)". 

A Forgotten Heyday of Arabic Culture: Literary Life in Mamluk Syria and Egypt (1250-1517 CE)

Coin issued by Sultan Ḥasan, the most important Maecenas of literature among the sultans

It turned out only recently that the Mamluk period, which was neglected, even disparaged, for a long time, was one the most productive and vibrant periods of Arabic literature. On the one end of the spectrum, elite poets and prose authors created some of the most sophisticated and elegant Arabic texts ever written. On the other end, popular poets and storytellers entertained the masses in the towns of Syria and Egypt, in which a larger portion of the population than ever engaged in literature as producer and/or consumer. In his lecture, Thomas Bauer will ask about who wrote and recited which kind of literature for what kind of readership and audience, and ask about the function of literature in different social layers of Mamluk society. He will also give an overview over the most common forms and genres of Arabic literature in this exciting period.

About Thomas Bauer

Thomas Bauer, Dr. phil., Dr.phil.habil. (Erlangen 1989 and 1997), is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Münster since 2000. His main research areas are Arabic literature, rhetoric and cultural history from the early times (Altarabische Dichtkunst, 1992) and the Abbasid period (Liebe und Liebesdichtung in der arabischen Welt des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts, 1998) up to the Ottoman period. Recent studies focused on Arabic literature of the Mamluk period, especially Ibn Nubāta al-Miṣrī and the popular poet al-Miʿmār. In the field of cultural anthropology of the pre-modern Arabic world Bauer treated subjects like love and sexuality, death, strangeness, and tolerance of ambiguity (Die Kultur der Ambiguität, 2011). Bauer has been appointed member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts in 2012 and has been awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize in 2013.


We encourage registration beforehand by sending an e-mail to lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Previous lectures in this series

Petra Sijpesteijn | The Wisdom of the Arabs. Four Hundred Years of Cross-Cultural Engagement (4 February 2013)

James Montgomery | On Hedgehogs, Foxes and Magpies, and Why the World Should Read Classical Arabic Poetry (12 February 2015)

Geert Jan van Gelder | Antidotes and Anecdotes: A Literary History of Medicine from 13th-Century Syria (8 October 2015)

Beatrice Gründler | Modernity in the Ninth Century: the Controversy around Abū Tammām (4 February 2016)

This lecture is part of the What's New?! Spring Lecture Series

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