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03/15/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Beauty Can be Dangerous to Your Health

George Saliba

The talk will address the circumstances under which beautifully illustrated manuscripts could become dangerous to your health. While the production of illuminated manuscripts certainly enhanced the beauty – and thus the price of the manuscript – this beauty almost always came at a price. At times this price dangerously involved sacrificing essential part(s) of a text in order to accommodate the illumination. Furthermore beautifully illuminated manuscripts usually involved at least two people: one to copy the text, the other, and more artistically talented one, to produce the illuminations, for it is indeed very rare to find an illuminated manuscript that was produced by one person who could perform both tasks. This cooperative effort was not always risk free either. This to say nothing of manuscripts that were translated from one language to another as was the case with most Greek manuscripts that were translated into Arabic. The talk will demonstrate how some of those intricate problems involved in the very nature of the production of illuminated manuscripts came to impact the final content of the text thus exposing the consumer of the text to real danger.
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04/03/2018 01:15 PM ISAW Galleries

NYU News Interviews Roberta Casagrande-Kim

(Facebook Live)

Roberta Casagrande-Kim

Romance and Reason gallery tour and interview.
04/12/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Alexander to Iskandar

Paintings from Persian and Turkish Manuscripts

Ayşin Yoltar-Yıldırım, Ph.D.

This talk will trace the story of Alexander from the ancient Greek novel, the Alexander Romance, to its Persian and Turkish adaptations. A variety of Islamic literary texts, namely the 11th century Persian Shahnama of Firdawsi, the 12th century Iskandarnama of Nizami, and the 14th century Turkish Iskendername of Ahmedi, will be discussed. Both famous and rarely-known paintings from Islamic manuscripts dating from the 14th to the 17th centuries in various collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, will be featured. This visual journey will touch upon Alexander’s shift from a military hero/invader to a wise ruler and how the image of Alexander adapted to changing political contexts from the Ilkhanid Tabriz in Iran to Ottoman Amasya in Turkey. Even if the historical Alexander couldn’t conquer the entire world, Islamic traditions certainly imagined him as doing so in their development of his legendary persona.
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05/03/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Plato's advice to Alexander:

Amir Khusraw's 'Mirror of Alexander' (1299)

Richard Stoneman

"Plato's advice to Alexander: Amir Khusraw's 'Mirror of Alexander' (1299)" introduces the poet Amir Khusraw and sets his poem in the context of the mirror-for-princes literature of the Arab and Persian Middle Ages. It considers the links of this tradition with the actual work of Plato, and also of Aristotle, and finds little direct connection. In the poem, Alexander visits the hermit Plato in his cave to obtain advice on rulership. Alexander is thus presented as a kind of philosopher-king, as much a Sufi and a sage as he is a monarch.
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05/10/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

The Migrations of Islamic Science in Renaissance Europe

Robert Morrison

The Renaissance is often seen as the result of Europeans’ re-engagement with the heritage of Classical Antiquity, which Islamic societies preserved during the Dark Ages. Recent research has shown, though, that the science of Islamic societies from the twelfth through sixteenth centuries was crucial for Renaissance science. This lecture will describe this late medieval Islamic scientific culture and the fascinating stories of how it reached Renaissance Europe, often as a by-product of economic activity and as a result of a quest for social capital. In fact, European scholars in the later sixteenth century and the seventeenth century continued to value the science of Islamic societies, even after European science had blossomed. Renaissance science turns out to have more diverse foundations than previously thought.
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