The Many Lives of a Medieval Library

Episode 380

hosted by Nir Shafir

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When does a concubine need to join the reading group? And should the six-month old son come along as well? The answers are in our interview with Konrad Hirschler on the libraries of medieval Damascus. Using the original catalog of the Ashrafiyya Library of Damascus, Hirschler discusses the types of books that were donated to libraries, the surprising reading interests of medieval scholars, and how we might discover this lost world of bibliophiles.

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Contributor Bios

Konrad Hirschler is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on Egypt and Syria in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods (c. 1200-1500) with a focus on social and cultural history.
Nir Shafir is a historian whose research explores the intellectual and religious history of the early modern Middle East, with a focus on material culture and the history of science and technology. He is currently the editor of the Ottoman History Podcast and curates it series on history of science. He is an assistant professor of history at UCSD.


Episode No. 380
Release Date: 25 September 2018
Recording Location: Jena, Germany
Audio editing by Nir Shafir
Music: "Haymatlos" and "Bir Daha Asla" by Bandista
Images and bibliography courtesy of Konrad Hirschler


Select Bibliography

Açıl, Berat: Osmanlı kitap kültürü: Cârullah Efendi kütüphanesi ve derkenar notları, İstanbul 2015.
Erünsal, Ismail: Orta Çağ İslam Dünyasında Kitap ve Kütüphane, Istanbul 2018.
Hirschler, Konrad: The written word in the medieval Arabic lands : a social and cultural history of reading practices, Edinburgh 2012.
Hirschler, Konrad: Medieval Damascus : plurality and diversity in an Arabic library : the Ashrafīya Library Catalogue, Edinburgh 2016.
Liebrenz, Boris: Die Rifāʿīya aus Damaskus : eine Privatbibliothek im osmanischen Syrien und ihr kulturelles Umfeld, Leiden 2016.
Touati, Houari: L'armoire à sagesse : bibliothèques et collections en Islam, Paris 2003.


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