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LUCIS Spring Fellow 2018: Karen Bauer

This spring, LUCIS will have the pleasure of welcoming visiting fellow Karen Bauer to Leiden. Bauer will give five lectures and five masterclasses concerning the Emotion of Qur’anic Persuasion.

The Emotion of Qur’anic Persuasion

One might argue that the main aim of the Qur’an is to persuade its audience to believe in God and to form a new community of believers, who are distinguished as a community by shunning their natural inclinations for the things of this world (wealth, family, even their own lives) in order to follow God’s path. Such a process involves not only a mental recalibration of existing beliefs, but also an emotional recalibration of existing attachments. In the context of belief and behaviour the Qur’anic language is highly emotive; yet the emotional rhetoric of the Qur’an has been almost entirely neglected in Western academic studies of the text.

In this series of lectures and masterclasses, Karen Bauer will explore the emotional rhetoric of Qur’anic persuasion.  In doing so, she hopes to re-orient the scholarly perspective on the Qur’anic message and its effect on its original audience. Historians usually follow a ‘rational actor’ model of social change, in which people gravitate towards actions that are in their own best interests. Increasingly, however, we are coming to understand how people’s perception of their own best interests can be shaped and influenced. This study of emotional rhetoric in the Qur’an sheds new light on the rhetoric that was intended to move and persuade the Qur’an’s original audience, convincing them to believe and to abandon their old ways of life for a new life as Muslims.

About Karen Bauer

Dr. Karen Bauer (PhD, Princeton, 2008) is a Senior Research Associate in the Qur’anic Studies Unit of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She specialises in Islamic social and intellectual history; her specific interests include the Qur’an and Qur’anic exegesis, emotions and emotional rhetoric in Islamic history, and gender in Islamic history and thought. Her research centres on medieval texts, but she occasionally ventures into modern territory, such as when she interviewed religious scholars (ʿulamaʾ) in Iran and Syria for her book Gender Hierarchy in the Qur’an: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which detailed the history of tafsīr through interpretations of verses on women, and was runner up for the BKFS Book Prize 2016. She has published on subjects such as emotional rhetoric in the Qur'an, women’s right to be judges in medieval Islamic law, the potential and actual audiences for medieval tafsīr, and a phrase pertaining to kindness in marriage that is present in documentary evidence of contracts of marriage and in works of tafsīr. In addition to her monograph, she edited a volume entitled Aims, Methods, and Contexts of Qur'anic Exegesis, 2nd/8th - 9th/15th centuries) (OUP/IIS, 2013). She is active in the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA).

Practical Information

The lectures are free to attend, no registration is required.

The masterclasses are open to advanced undergraduate students, graduate students and PhD students from Leiden University and require registration. Send an email to lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl with the masterclasses you would like to attend and you will receive the reading material required for the course(s).

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