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Authors and their books: bio-historical writings in Early Modern Central Asia

Monday 25 November 2019
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden

Authors and their books: bio-historical writings in Early Modern Central Asia

The talk will focus on some aspects of Persianate erudition widespread in Central Asia during the post-Timurid period (early 16-early 19th centuries), as it is reflected in historico-literary sources, such as collections of biographies (taẕkira) of poets and erudites. Rich developments took place during the Timurid period, both in historiography and belles-lettres, leading towards the formal refinement of specific genres, but also enriching the contents of literary and historical works to satisfy the new social and intellectual interests of their times, on the other hand. Realistic descriptions of places, individuals—especially authors’ contemporaries— figure prominently in all these writings, many of which contain a significant part of (auto-)biographic material. Following these changes, the authors’ interest in contemporary times generated particular intellectual and practical requirements for composing their works. It involved particular methods used for assembling the collections of biographies, both in terms of defining the scope (chronological and geographical, linguistic etc.) and contents (f.ex. criteria for selection of the biographies “worth” to be included), as well as the structure of the future book (f. ex. chronological, alphabetical, or other type of arrangement), and in terms of ways and methods of gathering the biographical material (library and field research, balance between oral and written sources).

Maria Szuppe

Maria Szuppe is senior researcher (directrice de recherche) at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a member of the research unit «Mondes iranien et indien» (UMR7528, CNRS-Sorbonne nouvelle-INaLCO-EPHE). Her main field of research is mediaeval and modern history of Iran and Central Asia, focusing on social and cultural history of Persianate societies. Since 2015 she co-directs a ANR-DFG Franco-German project on "Dynamics of Transmission: Families authorities and Knowledge in the Early Modern Middle East 15-17th centuries" in cooperation with the University of Marburg. Her other interests include the codicology of Oriental manuscripts, the history of the book and the written transmission in the Turko-Iranian societies. Since 2002 she leads an editorial project Series Catalogorum, in cooperation with the Istituto per l’Oriente (Rome). Recent publications include two edited volumes: Ecrit et culture en Asie centrale et dans le monde turco-iranien (Paris, 2009, co-editor F. Richard), and Lecteurs et copistes dans les traditions manuscrites iraniennes, indiennes et centrasiatiques (2014, Eurasian Studies 12, special volume, co-edited by N. Balbir).

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