Monday, May 2, 2016

Cultural and Textual Exchanges: The Manuscript Across Pre-Modern Eurasia

Exploring manuscript diversity before the printed book

During the 2016-17 academic year, a core group of University of Iowa faculty and graduate students will work to map cultural exchanges across Eurasia from roughly 400 CE ­ ca. 1450 CE, by focusing on the development, distribution and sharing of manuscript technologies. Funded by a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this Sawyer Seminar, Cultural and Textual Exchanges: The Manuscript Across Pre-Modern Eurasia, will bring 25 visiting scholars and conservators to campus. These visitors, each of whom is an internationally recognized expert in the various manuscript cultures of pre­modern Eurasia, will give public talks in addition to working privately with the seminar.

During the year, the seminar participants, with assistance from the UI Libraries’ Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, will develop an innovative website tracking the development of Eurasian manuscript formats and materials chronologically and geographically. This digital product of the seminar is intended as a permanent resource for new research into the relationships between books and the spread and development of religions.

Dilley, Tachau, and Barrett Lead Yearlong Seminar

Leading the seminar are Paul Dilley (Religious Studies and Classics, CLAS), Katherine Tachau (History, CLAS), and Timothy Barrett (Center for the Book, Graduate College). The interdisciplinary trio is determined to unlock the secrets of manuscript diversity and globalization before the printed book through the seminar’s conversations and investigations.

A full list of visitors and their bios will be forthcoming on a seminar web site, a link to which will be available via the Obermann Center’s web site.

Visitors to the Seminar during Fall Semester

  • Shai Secunda, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Rabbinic literature and Iranian studies, Jewish and Zoroastrian intersections
  • Michael Friedrich, Universität Hamburg; early Chinese Buddhist manuscripts
  • Zsuzsanna Gulacsi, Northern Arizona University; Manichaean art and manuscripts; artistic heritage of silk-road religions, including Buddhism, East Syriac Christianity, Manichaeism
  • William Johnson, Duke University; papyrology; Oxyrhynchus scrolls; ancient books and reading among Greeks and Romans
  • Susan Whitfield, British Library; codicology of Chinese manuscripts from Dunhuang; silk road history
  • T.H. Barrett, University of London; Buddhism and early printing in Asia.

About Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminars

The Mellon Sawyer Seminars were established in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. The Obermann Center is delighted to be a partner in helping to support and coordinate these events, which are also receiving funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and the Office of the Provost.

Questions about the seminar can be directed to Professors Dilley, Tachau, and Barrett.