From "Hidden" to Celebrated: Encounters with Islamic Manuscripts at the University of Michigan

From "Hidden" to Celebrated: Encounters with Islamic Manuscripts at the University of Michigan

A lecture by Evyn Kropf (University of Michigan)

Thursday, May 23, 2019
12:00 PM
365 Kaplan Hall

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The Islamic Manuscripts Collection at the University of Michigan Library consists of just over 1,100 volumes, chiefly in codex format but including several rolls and a small number of single leaves. The dauntingly diverse array represents manuscript production from the 8th to the 20th century CE across the historically Islamicate cultural areas and carries more than 1,800 texts chiefly in Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish. The collection is among the most significant such collections in North America, but is of relatively modest in size and provenance. Even so, within the last 10 years it has been particularly substantial in impact, reaching hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, community members, and specialist scholars. This is thanks to efforts to fully catalogue and digitize the collection for open access, combined with considerable investment in collection curation and outreach. This talk will highlight areas of collection engagement that have proved particularly fruitful- from a collaborative, instructive cataloguing approach to the cultivation and appointment of a specialist curator active in teaching, research guidance and exhibition.

Evyn Kropf is Librarian for Middle East Studies and Religious Studies and Curator of the Islamic Manuscripts Collection at the University of Michigan. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2003) and her master’s degree in Information Science with a specialization in Library and Information Services from the University of Michigan (2009), and has studied Arabic language, historiography, and topics further related to Islamic manuscript culture. As cataloguer for the "Collaboration in Cataloging: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan" project (2009-2012), she led the descriptive effort which realized the detailed cataloguing of 904 codex manuscripts from the Library’s Islamic Manuscripts Collection. Here research interests include Islamic codicology and manuscript culture, reading and collecting practices, and the use of pictograms and other visual content in Sufistic cultures of knowledge transmission, as well as manuscript cataloguing and digital mediation of cultural heritage.

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies