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Call for Contributions: “Marginal Matters: Explorations into Commenting and Glossing Techniques in Arabic Manuscript Cultures,” (31 May | University of Leipzig)

May 31, 2020

Call for contributions:

“Marginal Matters: Explorations into Commenting and Glossing Techniques in Arabic Manuscript Cultures”

The Bibliotheca Arabica Project (2018-2035) based at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig, Germany, is dedicated to charting the production, transmission, and reception of Arabic literatures in the period from 1150 to 1850 CE. The principal investigator is Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm (University of Leipzig). Focusing on the material transmission of texts through manuscripts and the systematic collection of manuscript notes as core source material, the project’s main approaches are material philology and Überlieferungsgeschichte.

The project will publish its findings in a homonymous series with Brill Publishers (editor: Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm) that encompasses monographs as well as edited volumes. We now invite contributions to the first edited volume within the series, provisionally entitled “Marginal Matters: Explorations into Commenting and Glossing Techniques in Arabic Manuscript Cultures”. The focus of this volume will be the ‘margin’, understood here not strictly as a spatial but as an intellectual category, a room for readers or transmitters to interact with, structure, and communicate around a given text.

Manuscripts usually serve an approach to the history of literature that concentrates on the main, or primary text. Marginalia and interlinear annotations, on the other hand, have often been neglected although they reflect and embody a wealth of information for historical interactions with those texts: they may show an evolving text production through drafts and notes; they can be crucial for the partial or complete transmission of texts, and indeed might preserve traces of works that are otherwise lost; and they hint at a work’s reception by showing how people read and studied the primary text. Thus, the margin can contain evidence for the spatial and temporal distribution of a text, spell out the intertextual connections readers envisioned, and possibly give clues as to the relative popularity of a particular work. Within the context of learning and teaching, they reflect which works were part of a curriculum as well as how texts were studied and taught. In some cases, marginalia may reveal personal and professional reflections of identifiable readers, while in others they can capture ongoing intellectual debates. Given the multi-religious, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic Islamicate world, it is no surprise that margins can also mirror interactions between diverse groups and different manuscript cultures. This applies, too, to marginal commentaries reflecting specific political and/or social contexts. Regarding the sciences in particular, marginalia can reveal the state of knowledge at a given place and time. The extent to which images, illustrations, graphs, and maps comment on a text is another intriguing question for discussion.

While some academic disciplines have seen efforts to understand and categorise such paratextual elements, Arabic and Islamic Studies so far have produced very little research on this complex subject. The proposed volume of the Bibliotheca Arabica series thus represents a first systematic approach to this material. The volume will compare glosses and marginal commentaries in different genres, regions and periods, and it will encompass the following subjects:

● the content and scribal practices of glosses and marginal commentaries (including images/illustrations);

● the reflection of political, social, or cultural events and developments in marginal commentaries;

● the terminology applied in Arabic and Islamic Studies (e.g. glosses, marginal commentaries, scholia, and so forth) and (attempts at) its systematisation;

● the Arabic terminology (e.g. ḥāšiya, hāmiš, šarḥ) in historical perspective;

● and approaches to this often non-documentary material, e.g. regarding dating difficulties.

Contributions to the volume may offer broad theoretical reflections on whole genres, works or particular phenomena, or take the form of case studies of single manuscripts. The main categories of paratextual elements to be included in the volume are marginal and interlinear commentaries, glosses, text variants, images, illustrations, maps, supplements and additions, and various scribal practices such as signes de renvoi or sigla. We are open to further suggestions, however. All listed elements illustrate interactions with or comments on the primary text. The volume is not dedicated to documentary manuscript notes such as samāʿāt, readers’ or owners’ notes (which, though, can be part of your line of argument).

Contributions will have to be submitted in English, at a length of up to 8000 words excluding the bibliography. Please e-mail your CV (max. 100 words) and an abstract of your planned article (max. 600 words) to the editors by 31 May 2020. The submission deadline for full final versions of the accepted articles is 1 March 2021. The volume is scheduled for publication in 2022.

Editors: Stefanie Brinkmann (brinkmann@saw-leipzig.de)

Boris Liebrenz (liebrenz@saw-leipzig.de)