In 1517, Martin Luther supposedly put up his theses at a church in Wittenberg. The same year, 923 of the Hijra calendar, the Ottomans secured their rule over large parts of what is today known as the Near and the Middle East, i.e. Egypt, the Syrian region, the Arabian Peninsula and East Anatolia.
Though the period since the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 had been marked by profound changes on a global level, the year 1517 was a momentous turning point for the Arab Middle East. The newly established Ottoman rule not only initiated change in the administrative, political, economic and societal spheres. It also transformed cityscapes and ways of looking at the world and at the self. To learn more about the impact of this “cultural revolution” is the aim of this conference, which is to take place in Halle-Wittenberg in September 2012.
Our main focus is a close examination of such transformations in the literary production of the Eastern Mediterranean that can be related to the turning point of 1517. We propose to start by looking at different genres of texts, in whatever language of the region they were written, yet with a focus on Arabic and other Semitic languages: poetry, adab anthologies, biographical literature, travelogues, historical chronicles, geographical descriptions of towns and regions, juridical texts, mystical treatises etc.
We are particularly interested in developing a comparative perspective for the Mamluk and the Ottoman periods (or similar time lines), by cross-examining the development of old and new genres. Thus we call for contributions that address these questionings in a broad perspective, based on a thorough knowledge of the texts to be examined, but with an open mind for looking beyond the limitations usually imposed by disciplinary specialisations. We expect participants to engage actively in a discussion of the notion of genre and its implications for assessing the impacts of what we tentatively call the “turning point of 1517”. This debate among specialists is to be complemented by interventions from experts of contemporary European cultural history.
Proposals for papers (conference language is English) should include a title, an abstract of about 250 words, and your full contact details (including an e-mail address). You will be notified of your invitation in January 2012; it will cover travel expenses and costs of accommodation.
Please send your proposals by 1 December 2011.