Vanity post 3: Publications as a MSC Fellow

My time as a Marie Curie Fellow at the Trinity Longroom Hub, Dublin, has recently drawn to a close. This short post will compile the publications created during this fabulous year. Everything available online and open access, will be linked.

Obviously, CoVid 19 had an impact on my work during this year, leading to anxiety attacks in uneven intervals. the perhaps biggest impact was that, at around the time of lockdown in Ireland, my computer broke down, and I did not react comprehensively. I did not take the time to go through the files to see what had and what hadn’t been backed up. So, some work was lost.

One way of dealing with the resulting anxiety sandwich was working on shorter pieces based on what hadn’t been lost. Concentration was a rare resource during much of the lockdown period, especially in the mid- to long-term. Short-term concentration was in better supply and even gave me some distraction from lockdown realities. The fast-track aspect of online publication further helped with short bursts of gratification when people liked it on twitter. Thanks, everyone!

The largest share of my publications from this year revolve around Trinity College’s own collection of Arabic manuscripts. More specifically, I have explored the early collection (acquired during the 17th century) from several angles. A first post in 2019 centered on one of the collectors, Robert Huntingdon, from which Trinity College received manuscripts.

With Covid 19 arriving, my attention turned rather to the question what you could do while you were stuck at your house while the manuscripts were stuck at the library. The idea of a series of five blog posts was to give others the tools to learn something about the provenance of Trinity manuscripts through the online MARLOC catalogue in conversation with four historical catalogues. This idea was summarized in a first post, whereas four other posts introduced Trinity Library’s manuscript catalogues, respectively published around 1670, in 1688, in 1745, and, finally, in 1900.

A final post continued the theme of catalogization by looking at a letter from British Orientalist William Ouseley which catalogued a collection he was offering on account of a friend to Trinity College in 1808.

There were other outcomes of this wonderful fellowship. One article on the history of Trinity Library’s early Arabic manuscript collection was submitted to the journal Der Islam. And another article on the Egyptian Taymūriyya Library will shortly be submitted to another journal.

More accessible at the moment is an online exhibition which is informed by my research on the Arabic manuscripts in Trinity Library. It speaks about the composition of the collection, the histories of several manuscripts and private collections bequeathed to Trinity, and contextualizes manuscript trade and acquisition within larger political concerns of, especially, the 17th century.

As I have recently joined a project at the Staatsbibliothek Berlin which is entirely concerned with the catalogization of (not only) Arabic manuscripts, I hope to continue these ventures into older catalogues and to trace their respective quirks as well as strengths—only this time it will be mostly German catalogues.

Cite this article as: Torsten Wollina, "Vanity post 3: Publications as a MSC Fellow", in Damascus Anecdotes, September 20, 2020,

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