Monday, August 13, 2018

Medieval Club of New York
2018-2019 Schedule of Events

September 7th: Morgan Library from 5:30-6pm. A docent-led tour of their Medieval Monsters exhibit, a show that closes on September 23rd.
The tour accommodates 19 people, and the fee is $10 per person: the Medieval Club will pay the cost for any graduate student attendees. Please sign up by Aug 31 by writing Karl Steel at Attendees can pay by bringing a check made out to the New York Medieval Club.

October 5th: Sara Ritchey, Department of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

November 2nd: Eliza Zingesser, Department of French, Columbia University

February 1st: Abby Balbale, Department of History, New York University

March 1st: Nicole Lopez-Jantzen, Department of History, Borough of Manhattan Community College

April 5th: Sara Novacich, Department of English, Rutgers University

You are also encouraged to renew your Medieval Club Membership. Information on membership is available here: The fee is $12 for graduate students, and $27 for others. Donations may be added to membership checks. Membership fees can be paid using the Paypal link; alternately, you can bring a check to the Morgan Library event for $37 (or $12 for graduate students), or you can mail a check to:
Emily Sohmer Tai, Treasurer
Medieval Club of New York
33-47 14th Street, Apt. 5a
Long Island City, New York 11106

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Bloodfeud and Lawmaking in the Early Middle Ages
Laura Wangerin, Department of History, Seton Hall University
April 20, 2018
7:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center
Room 5114
The Ottonians, the tenth-century German dynasty that founded what would become known as the Holy Roman Empire, produced almost no written law. And yet written law was a key element of early medieval kingship. It featured prominently in the rule of kings and emperors who preceded the Ottonians, as well as in that of their contemporaries, such as the Anglo-Saxons in England. That the Anglo-Saxons were prodigious producers of written legislation, and the Ottonians producers of almost none, begs the question: why did the English Anglo-Saxon kingdom have so much legislation and the German Ottonian empire so little? This dearth of Ottonian legislative activity has puzzled historians, especially since the Ottonians were the successors and emulators of the Carolingians, who recorded the laws of the Germanic kingdoms they incorporated into their empire as well as legislated themselves. How can we account for this disparity not only between the Anglo-Saxons and the Ottonians, but also between the Ottonians and their predecessors? Comparing royal engagement with feuding behaviors in Anglo-Saxon England and Ottonian Germany suggests that the explanation can be found in the link between feud and written law. It will also suggest new ways of understanding medieval kingship and power structures.

Monday, March 5, 2018

High Flying Adored
The Symbolism of Falconry at Medieval Muslim Courts
March 16, 2018
7:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center
Room 4406
From the Umayyad period onwards, falconry flourished at Muslim courts. As part of the royal hunt, falconry involved a complex set of symbolisms. The royal hunter displayed his physical prowess and martial skills. He represented human domination within the natural world and thus his own within the social spheres of politics and religion. At medieval Muslim courts, however, falconry as a royal practice entailed more than hunting. It involved acquiring and owning a large number of rare birds and employing specialized staff for their training and care. It also involved patronage for science and literature concerned with falconry.
This presentation will offer a survey of symbolic dimensions of falconry at medieval Muslim courts, focusing on medieval Arabic technical manuals on falconry. These treatises typically contain chapters on the history of falconry composed of anecdotes featuring famous falconers in pre-Islamic and Islamic history. These episodes offer insights into the complex nature of the symbolism surrounding falconry such as the connections between rulership and hunting across Eurasia as well as into the human fascination with birds of prey and the possibility of training them to kill.
Anna Akasoy is Professor of Islamic intellectual history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center. She teaches classes on Islamic intellectual history and the history, literature and culture of the Islamic world. Her research interests include the intellectual history of the medieval Islamic world, in particular the relationship between mysticism and philosophy, as well as contacts between the Islamic world and other cultures. Her current research projects include a study of the religious dimension of Alexander the Great in the Islamic tradition within the larger context of the classical heritage of the Middle East and Asia. Her publications include Philosophie und Mystik in der späten Almohadenzeit. Die Sizilianischen Fragen des Ibn Sabʿīn(Leiden: Brill, 2006); Rashīd al-Dīn, Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran, Edited with Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (London: The Warburg Institute, 2013);Renaissance Averroism and its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe, Edited with Guido Giglioni (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013); Islam and Tibet. Interactions along the Musk Routes, Edited with Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), and many essays.

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Word, World and Lexicon:
The Case of the Arabic Names of the Lion
Friday, February 23
7:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center
Room 4406
The project of lexicography is to catalogue the semantic resources of language. In so doing, it serves a collateral function of classifying the contents of the world—especially where thematic organization (and not alphabetic order) is its structuring principle, as is the case with much of Arabic lexicography in its seminal Early Abbasid period (9th-10th centuries CE). The severally-repeated feat of cataloguing all the Arabic epithets and names for lion is the occasion for my talk about applications of pre-modern lexicography in cultural studies, with special focus on the disciplinary margins where natural history and language science overlap, and the semiotics of the lion in patterns of interspecies interaction.

David Larsen is a scholar and translator of Classical Arabic texts. Last year, his translation of the Names of the Lion by Ibn Khālawayh (d. 980 CE) was released in a new edition by Wave Books. His Ph.D. in Comparative Literature is from U.C. Berkeley, and he is currently a Clinical Professor of Liberal Studies at NYU. His translation blog may be consulted at