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EIHS Lecture: "'Libraries of the Mind:' Cultures of Literacy in 17th-Century Isfahan"
Abstract: Professor Babayan's talk examines practices of collecting, a site where historians rarely venture to study the epistemological keys of understanding the dynamics of state formation. To probe the relationship between collecting, literacy, and didacticism, she will talk about a body of visual and literary sources copied, assembled, and bound into a book by owners and household scribes in 17th-century Isfahan. These new habits of collecting allow her entry into their libraries of the mind. Through a visual and artistic archive, Professor Babayan will trace the story of how literacy transformed mediums of communicating friendship in Isfahan. How did the culture of literacy establish relationships between Isfahanis and a range of material objects, texts, and images, shaping in this process communities of collector-selves and their households?
Biography: Kathryn Babayan is Associate Professor of Iranian History and Culture at the Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan. She specializes in the cultural and social histories of early modern Iran. She is the author of Mystics, Monarchs and Messiahs: Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran (2003); co-author of Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavi Iran, with Sussan Babaie, Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe, and Massumeh Farhad (2004). More recently, together with her colleague Afsaneh Najmabadi, they have co-edited a volume entitled Islamicate Sexualities Studies: Translations Across Temporal Geographies of Desire, (2008). She is currently working on a monograph that explores cultures of literacy in early modern Isfahan.
Free and open to the public.
This lecture is part of the Thursday Speaker Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.