Research Conversations Michaelmas Term 2018

The second Research Conversations of the academic year, organised by Professor Martin Goodman, will take place on Monday 26 November from 1pm in the Spalding Room.

Nicolai Sinai will be in conversation with Jim Benson about his current work on a historical and literary commentary on parts of the Qur'an, undertaken in the context of the ERC project Qur'anic Commentary: An Integrative Paradigm. This commentary will cover the three longest and most complex compositions in the Islamic scripture, surahs 2–4, as well as the short opening surah 1. The project seeks to develop and demonstrate an exegetical approach and format capable of addressing three core dimensions of the Qur’an: the compositional structure of Qur’anic texts; the intricate processes of literary growth and redactional expansion by which many of them have been shaped; and the theological concerns governing the Qur’an’s engagement with antecedent (especially Jewish and Christian) ideas, traditions, and literary forms. An important methodological challenge will be to scrutinize premodern Islamic exegesis as a valuable repository of close scriptural reading, even if its premises and conclusions are not always persuasive to a modern historian.

Shelagh Vainker will be in conversation with Jeremy Johns about her research on ceramics in Song dynasty China (960-1279) and her exploration of what is revealed by the range of contexts in which they were created, found and appreciated. Research on Song ceramics has mostly concentrated on technology and collecting, while scholarship on Song art history has been dominated by work on paintings, calligraphy, and antiquities preserved in the Imperial collection. This research conversation will examine how the durability of ceramic material provides a more complete record that, when considered alongside textual records and various contemporary industries, can itself inform understanding of society in the period of the cultural foundations of early modern China.

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