Universiteit Leiden

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Arabic Studies


The center invites internationally renowned scholars to spend time at Leiden to teach graduate students in the BA and MA programmes and in custom made seminars, and to give public lectures. Specialisations vary covering so far manuscript studies, history, anthropology, literature, art history and religious studies.

Dr. Christian Junge

Al-Babtain Fellow Lectures 11-12 October 2023

The current  Al-Babtain Leiden Centre for Arabic Culture fellow is Dr. Christian Junge, who is a  senior lecturer of Arabic Studies at Philipps-Universität Marburg. He has published on the nineteenth century Nahda, postmodern literature, and postcolonial knowledge production. His recent research focuses on affect and emotion in contemporary Egyptian literature since the 1990s and his latest essay “Tarab: Sonic Affect” is forthcoming in the PMLA. He is member of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities and co-founder of the Arabic-English summer school series “Arabic Philologies”. He will participate in three events, two of which are open to everyone. 1. He will give lecture for the BA2 Arabic Literature students, 2. participate in a faculty roundtable with other researchers from the university, and 3. give a public lecture as part of the What’s New?! Lecture Series.


Wednesday 11th of October
15:00-17:00 Faculty Roundtable: Societies, Emotions, and Receptions in (Modern) Literatures. 
Location: Lipsius 1.48 
Register: Here.

Five scholars who work on modern literature from different areas and languages will discuss modes of literary productions and receptions in their respective study areas. The aim of the roundtable is to unveil areas of contact and departure between the discussed literatures.
The participating scholars are:
Dr. Christian Junge- Arabic literature
Dr. Annachiara Raya- Swahili literature
Dr. Lenore Todd- Black British literature
Dr. Sara Brandellero- Brazilian literature
Dr. Adriana Churampi Ramirez- Andean literature

Thursday 12th of October

17:15-18:00 What’s New! Lecture:
Striving for Affect: Amateur Readers and Aswany's Bestsellers on Social Media
Location: Lipsius 1.48
Register: Here.

The emergence of social media and the "digital literary sphere" provide amateur readers numerous opportunities to write about their reading experiences and to connect with other readers across national borders, political positions, and literary preferences. This talk focuses on transregional ‘affective reading communities’ that discuss novels by the Egyptian author Alaa Al-Aswany as scandals of disgust and sympathy and negotiations of trauma, and exoticism. Giving the floor to common readers rather than professional critics, this paper argues, is a way to rethink the various social functions not only of bestsellers, but of literature in general.

Past fellows in the programme

Three fellows gave talks in a lecture series on Oriental Manuscripts, entitled Worlds to Discover. Manuscripts from the Muslim World.

Asma Hilali (Professor of Islamic Studies at University of Lille) spoke on the Kairouan Manuscripts Project

Lâle Uluç (Professor of Islamic Art, Persianate Culture and Islamic Manuscripts, Boğaziçi University) presented 16th-century manuscripts from Shiraz

Darya Ogorodnikova (Researcher Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg University) spoke about Ajami, Arabic script, manuscripts from Islamic West-Africa.

Salwa El-Awa (Senior Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Swansea University) presented two lectures on Quranic translation.

Franziska Fay (Junior Professor of ethnology, Gutenberg University, Mainz), a specialist of youth culture in North Africa, taught a class and gave a public lecture entitled ‘“Kuishi Ughaibuni”: Thinking with diaspora and dialogue, belonging and absence about the Swahili-speaking gulf.’

Hugh Kennedy, Professor of Arabic, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 

In his seminar for graduate students at Leiden University, Professor Kennedy explored the idea of a “Greater Mesopotamia” and its fundamental importance in understanding the economy and geopolitics of the early Islamic world, from 650 to 1050 CE.

Maribel Fierro, Professor at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain. Member of the research group Cultural history of the Mediterranean.

Professor Fierro taught a series of seminars on the literary production in Umayyad al-Andalus on “The ‘Best-Sellers’ of al-Andalus,” and “Rulers as Authors in the Islamic West (8th-15th Centuries).”

Geert Jan van Gelder, Professor of Arabic emiritus

With Leiden students Professor van Gelder read and commented on stories about robbers, thieves, and outlaws in Arabic literature from the famous book al-Faraj baʿd al-shiddah by al-Tanūkhī (d. 994) and from Asmāʾ al-mughtālīn by Muḥammad ibn Ḥabīb (d. 860).

Wadad al-Kadi, the Avalon Foundation Distinguished Service Professor emirita, Chicago University

Professor al-Kadi taught a seminar entitled ‘From letters to literature, ’ providing an in-depth study of the letters of the foremost epistolographer of the Umayyad period (41-132 AH/661-750 CE), ʿAbd al-Hamid al-Katib (d. 132 AH/750 CE), as a means to understanding Arabic letters and epistolary prose in the founding stage of Arabic epistolography.

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