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Writing a History of a Genre: Why is a Narrative Necessary?

Thursday, February 29, 2024, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

It is almost a century to the year since the publication of Ignaz Goldziher's last book The Currents of the Interpretation of the Qur’an (Die Richtungen der islamischen Koranauslegung, Brill, 1920). This was also considered his masterpiece. Since then, Arab intellectuals have continued to write histories of the genre. For the last several years I have been trying to envision what such a new history of the genre of the interpretation of the Qur’an will look like. This lecture will discuss the nature of this literature (it is a commentary literature), and give an outline of my approach to tackling the problem of writing history of a literary genre. 

Walid Saleh is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto. He is a specialist on the Qur’an, the history of its interpretation and the gloss tradition in medieval Islam. He is the author of two books, including The Formation of the Classical Tafsir Tradition (Brill, 2004). He is also the author of several articles on the Qur’an and the intellectual history of Islam. He has worked on apocalyptic literature, the Bible in Islam, and madih poetry of Muhammad. He is the recipient of Konrad Adenauer Fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation, and a New Directions Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He is currently working on a history of the Qur’an commentary tradition.

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