Working with Islamic Manuscripts, Oct 17

Thursday, October 17, 5:10pm–6pm

Centre for Medieval Studies, Lillian Massey Building, CMS room 301

Lecture by Karin Scheper (Conservator, Leiden Univ.), author of The Technique of Islamic Bookbinding: Methods, Materials, and Regional Varieties (2018)

“Working with Islamic Manuscripts from a Western perspective to a neutral stance, and a new vocabulary”

Response by Alberto Campagnolo (University of Udine and the Ligatus Project)

Reception to follow

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In the past two decades, quite a few studies on material aspects of manuscripts from the Islamic world have shed new light on these artefacts, and it is fair to say that these have changed our understanding of this manuscript culture, and it’s larger role in the development of bookmaking techniques. As a result, we must also see the western tradition in a different light and question our vocabulary when we talk, write and teach about these objects. The terminology that has become a standard tool to exchange our knowledge, and to describe characteristics in the finest detail, appears very much geared towards western books. This talk is about misunderstandings that may evolve from the lack of a proper terminology for diverse bookmaking traditions, and presents ongoing work to address this problem.

Karin Scheper heads the conservation workshop at the University Library Leiden. In her practical work and study she focusses on manuscripts from the Islamicat world, and received a PhD for her work on the Islamic bookbinding tradition in 2014. She is also an experienced teacher, welcomes interns and has given workshops for western conservation training programmes and institutions in the Islamic world.

CMS Eighth Annual Alumni Lecture: Helen Solterer, 24 October 2019

The Centre for Medieval Studies cordially invites you to a lecture by CMS alumna

Helen Solterer (CMS 1986), Professor of Romance Studies, Duke University  

“The Travail of Political Visionary Writing:  Christine de Pizan, Edith Thomas, and Other Humanists at Work”

Christine de Pizan, Book of Three Virtues. Boston, Public Library, MS f 101, fol. 3

Christine de Pizan, Book of Three Virtues. Boston, Public Library, MS f 101, fol. 3

24 October 2019, 4:10 p.m.

Centre for Medieval Studies, Room 301
Lillian Massey Building
125 Queen’s Park

Reception to follow


Medieval Ethiopia: A Second Colloquium (11-12 October)

"The Virgin and Child with the Archangels Gabriel and Michael". Late 15th/early 16th century. Tempera on parchment. Gospel manuscript from the monastery of Gunda Gunde (Tigray, Ethiopia). Image: DSU, UTSC Library. © M. Gervers, 2002.

“The Virgin and Child with the Archangels Gabriel and Michael”. Late 15th/early 16th century. Tempera on parchment. Gospel manuscript from the monastery of Gunda Gunde (Tigray, Ethiopia). Image: DSU, UTSC Library. © M. Gervers, 2002.

co-hosted by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies and the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies together with the Art Gallery of Ontario and with the support of the Italian Cultural Institute 


If you intend to attend the conference, please register on this website.


11 October 2019

9:00 am-9:15 am / CMS 310

Welcome by Suzanne Akbari (IAS / U of Toronto), including honored guests:

9:15-10:30 am / CMS 310

Session 1: Opening lecture by Michael Gervers (U of Toronto):

“The Enigma of Ethiopia’s Tablet-Woven Sanctuary Curtains”

10:30 am-11:00 am / CMS Great Hall

Coffee break

11:00 am-1:00 pm / CMS 310

Session 2Manuscript Culture:

Chair: Jill Caskey (U of Toronto)

Eyob Derillo (Curator of Ethiopian Collections, British Library), “Ethiopian Manuscripts: Curating, Exhibiting, and Digitising the British Library’s Collection”

Melissa Moreton (Hill Museum and Manuscript Library), “Nearing the Half-Century Mark: A Look Back at Ethiopian Manuscript Collections at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library”

Robert Holmstedt, “On Not Editing and Not Normalizing Ethiopic Texts (for the Sake of Gǝʿǝz Linguistics)” (U of Toronto)

1:00 pm-3:00 pm

Lunch break / travel to AGO

3:00 pm-5:00 pm / AGO Jackman Hall

Session 3: Roundtable discussion:

“Representing Ethiopia – and Representing Africa – in the Museums”

Welcome by Julian Cox (Art Gallery of Ontario)

Chair: Suzanne Akbari

Andrea Achi (Metropolitan Museum of Art); Michael Chagnon (Aga Khan Museum); Julie Crooks (Art Gallery of Ontario); Bryan Keene (Getty Museum); Silvia Forni (Royal Ontario Museum

5:00 pm-5:15 pm / adjoining Jackman Hall

Coffee break

5:15 pm-6:45 pm / AGO Jackman Hall

Session 4: Public lecture: Samantha Kelly (Rutgers U):

“Connected Histories: Ethiopia and the Global Middle Ages”


12 October 2019

9:30 am-10:00 am / Great Hall

Coffee and light breakfast

10:00 am-12 noon / CMS 310

Session 5Theological and Cartographic Contexts:

Chair: Isabelle Cochelin (Director, Centre for Medieval Studies, U of Toronto)

Marcia Kupfer (Washington, DC), “Sites of Anti-Judaism in Christian Cultures: A Comparative Study of the Medieval Latin and Ethiopian Orthodox Traditions”

Meron Gebreananaye, “Life of Krestos Semra” (Durham U)

Bryan Keene (Getty Museum), “Locating the Island of Socotra on Maps and in Manuscripts from Medieval Afro-Eurasia”

12 noon-1:15 pm / Great Hall

Lunch (buffet on site for presenters)

1:15 pm-2:30 pm / CMS 310

Session 6: Hagos Abrha Abay (St. Yared Center for Ethiopian Philology and Manuscripts Director, Mekelle U):

“Manuscript Collections of Kidana Mihret Wegrezhi”

2:30-3:00 pm / Great Hall

Introduced by: Tim Harrison (U of Toronto)

Coffee break

3:00-5:00 pm / CMS 310

Session 7: Material Culture:

Chair: Mark Meyerson (U of Toronto)

Verena Krebs (Bochum U), “Echoes of Exotic Others: Flemish Panel Paintings, Madre della Consolazione Icons, and Limoges Painted Enamels at the Late Medieval Ethiopian Royal Court”

Felege-Selam Solomon Yirga (Ohio State U / Dumbarton Oaks), “A New Provenance Study of the Aksumite Coins of the American Numismatic Society”

Sarah Guerin (U of Pennsylvania), “The African Ivory trade in the Longue Durée”

5:00 pm-6:30 pm / CMS 310

Session 8: Closing lecture: Alessandro Bausi (U of Hamburg):

“Ethiopia and the Christian Ecumene: Cultural Transmission, Translation, and Reception”

Introduced by Walid Saleh (U of Toronto)

Closing remarks and thanks: Suzanne Akbari (IAS / U Toronto)

6:30-8:00 / Great Hall