Call for Papers – The Authors, Editors and Audiences of Medieval Middle Eastern Texts

The Authors, Editors and Audiences of Medieval Middle Eastern Texts

To be convened at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, on 1st-2nd September 2014 by Joshua Olsson ( and Ryan Lynch (

Submissions are invited for a graduate conference entitled “The Authors, Editors and Audiences of Medieval Middle Eastern Texts”, at the University of Cambridge on 1st-2nd September 2014.

This conference will bring together graduate students working on the history and literature of the medieval Middle East to discuss what it might mean when we refer to “authors”, “editors”, and “audiences” of medieval texts. Medieval is to be interpreted broadly as falling between the seventh and fifteenth-centuries CE. Submissions will be invited from graduates working on all genres of medieval Middle Eastern texts (including, but not limited to, history, geography, adab, poetry, medicine, science, theology and law), and speakers are encouraged to engage with at least one of the following questions:

  • Authors: What do we mean when we speak of the medieval author? Is the term author anachronistic? Can we identify the distinctive voice of an author? Are there conventions and topoi to which the voice of an author is subject? Is the authorial presence stronger or weaker in certain genres of literature? Does it make sense to talk of authoring works in certain genres? Can we speak of authorship when dealing with translations into Arabic or compilations of other authors’ material, whether written or otherwise?
  • Editors: What is the difference between an author and an editor? How did editors select and arrange their material? Did editors interfere with their sources, and if so why? Does it make sense to speak of passive editors and active authors? What editorial strategies underpin certain texts?
  • Audiences: Who were texts meant for? Was the stated recipient always the intended recipient? Were texts meant to be read or heard? What were audiences supposed to do with texts? How did the intended audience influence authorial or editorial approaches? Did audiences discuss what they had read or heard, and where did they do so? How were texts received among later audiences, and did this audience change?

Abstracts of no more than 300 words for 45-minute papers should be sent to the conveners by the 1st March, 2014. Those submitting approved proposals will be notified no later than 1st April, 2014.

Free central Cambridge accommodation will be provided to all external speakers for the night of 1st September. Refreshments and a buffet lunch will also be provided on both days of the conference.

Please email Joshua Olsson (PhD student, University of Cambridge: or Ryan Lynch (PhD student, University of Oxford: with any questions.

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