New Publication on Narratology in Arabic Historiography

Finally, Mamluk Studies 15: “Mamluk Historiography Revisited – Narratological Perspectives” is out. The edited volume brings together twelve articles on perspectives on specific works or larger clusters of works. My own contribution, “The Changing Legacy of a Sufi Shaykh: Narrative Constructions in Diaries, Chronicles, and Biographies (15th–17th Centuries)”, investigates the development of how knowledge on one specific person was shaped and adapted with growing temporal distance.

The person in question was introduced here in several posts during February 2018: Mubārak al-Qābūnī al-Ḥabashī. The article adds a more cohesive analytical framework to the sources presented on the blog before, and in in itself investigates the early formation of historical writing about his person. It presents and analyses four, mostly chronographical accounts on the same events and argues that each text does generate different meanings from these events.

The methodology is predominantly adapted from Gerard Genette and centers around the notion of “narrative time”, and its three emanations of temporal order, duration, and frequency. The article demonstrates how their application serves in the four accounts by Ibn Ṭawq, In al-Ḥimṣī, and—twice—Ibn Ṭūlūn to create quite divergent narratives out of the same events.

Finally, it complements the sources on Mubārak already presented here and adds accounts from three chronicles on the great clash between Mubārak and the local Mamluk emirs. Through different narrative treatment and contextualization, the retelling of the same event comes to represent divergent motivations of those texts.

Traces of Ibn Ṭawq

Today brought an exciting find.

Boris Liebrenz had recently told me he found a reader note by Aḥmad Ibn Ṭawq. That is already exciting when a person so elusive is concerned. But this is actually better, and I could/should have found this years ago. Yāsīn Muḥammad al-Sawwās’ (1987) catalogue of those manuscripts held in the Syrian National Library today but having once belonged to the holdings of the Abū ʿUmar or ʿUmariyya Madrasa in the suburb Ṣāliḥiyya is a wonderful catalogue, giving information about ownership notes or attendees records (samāʿāt). Continue reading Traces of Ibn Ṭawq

Documentary evidence – evidence on documents?

One of the still oft-repeated truisms about Muslim societies before the Ottoman / Early Modern period is that they left no archives of documents behind, precisely because status was negotiated in ways different from, and more informal than, those in contemporaneous Europe. Konrad Hirschler’s discoveries of reused documents in codices are only one example. Continue reading Documentary evidence – evidence on documents?