Research Conversations Hilary Term 2019

The fourth Research Conversations of the academic year, organised by Professor Martin Goodman, will take place on Monday 4 March from 1pm in the Spalding Room.

Dr Nancy Hawker will be in conversation with Professor Jan Joosten about the idea of "endangerment" with regards to languages - in particular, Arabic in Israel, which has been described by a range of scholars of language as "under threat". Palestinians' bilingualism in Arabic and Hebrew is seen by some as a stepping-stone to a shift of native Arabic speakers towards Hebrew dominance. These perspectives on multilingualism take for granted a monolingual paradigm, but stable bi- and multi-lingualism are normal linguistic situations in most parts of the world, including among minorities in monolingual states, and the evidence gathered in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories does not support the proposition that Arabic competence is diminishing in Israel. So where do these "endangerment" anxieties come from and what does the evidence actually point to? Is it that Arabic in Israel is similar in fate to the Arabian Oryx, which is classified as "vulnerable" in the wild but thrives in semi-managed reservations?

Professor Julia Bray will be in conversation with Professor Jennifer Guest about her research on Arabic picture-poems. Professor Bray's own work on the spectacular scrolls produced in twelfth-century Cairo and Damascus by the Andalusi physician, mystic and poet al-Jilyānī for Saladin and other Ayyubids has established a direct connection with the Moroccan poet Ḥamdūn ibn al-Ḥājj al-Sulamī (1760-1817). Earlier research into scattered occurrences from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century suggests that picture-poems in a variety of forms may have been a significant Arabic genre from al-Andalus to the Ottoman Empire. As an interface between the visual and verbal arts, their full significance is beginning to emerge in the light of book studies, and the conversation will look at the current state of the field of Arabic picture-poem studies which owes its existence to the publication in 2010 by Kamal Abu Deeb of his edition of al-Jilyānī’s Dīwān al-Tadbīj.

Tea and coffee will be available, and you are welcome to bring your own lunch. All are welcome to attend.