Colloque international
en visioconférence

1er et 2 octobre 2021

Responsables scientifiques : Philip Bockholt (Université de Leipzig) et Sacha Alsancakli (Sorbonne Nouvelle/CeRMI)

Institutions partenaires : Université de Leipzig et CeRMI
Co-financement : Fondation Fritz Thyssen

Contact & information : Philip Bockholt & Sacha Alsancakli

PDF (programme & information)

The conference will discuss ideological variants as cultural and historical phenomena particularly illustrative of the concept of dynamic and collective authorship. These phenomena will be addressed by the speakers in a wide array of case studies, including historiographical and literary texts produced from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries in various parts of the Persianate world, from Anatolia in the West to Central Asia in the East.

List of speakers

Sacha Alsancakli (Paris)
Philip Bockholt (Leipzig)
Theodore S. Beers (Berlin)
Ferenc P. Csirkés (Istanbul)
Nadja Danilenko (Hamburg)
Bruno De Nicola (London/Vienna)
Christopher Markiewicz (Birmingham)
Benedek Péri (Budapest)
Francis Richard (Paris)
Florian Schwarz (Vienna)
Maria Szuppe (Paris)

The past several decades have seen an unprecedented revival in the study of manuscripts in Oriental languages like Arabic, Persian, or Turkish. With the steady progress of cataloging and digitising collections in Europe and the Middle East, manuscript copies of works which had been previously either unknown or inaccessible to scholars have come to light. As a result, the processes of textual transmission in extant copies and variants found therein now challenge our understanding of the production, circulation and reception of texts, and furthermore, the transfer of knowledge as a whole. This has significantly changed our view of authorship and copying practices in the “manuscript age,” which in the Middle East only ended during the nineteenth century with the broader availability of the printing press.Taking up recent approaches in the fields of Iranian studies, history, and manuscript philology, the conference endeavours to study the ways in which authors and scribes produced, copied and interpreted texts according to certain cultural contexts, political necessities and/or professional choices in the Persianate world from the eleventh to nineteenth centuries. These processes of adaptation took many different forms, most of which remain unexplored, and comprised minor corrections and amendments as well as full-fledged reworkings of a text and modifications to its core ideological components. Such alterations impacted the text as a whole, which leads us to question the legitimacy of a strict separation between “authors” and “copyists.” Subject to changing approaches, reappropriations and shifts in focus, texts were manipulated and transformed by new actors in various ways such as the translation of a work, the production of appendices for specific chapters, or the cutting and copying of particular sections presented as stand- alone publications.

Within this framework of dynamic and collective authorship, ideological  variants stand out as cultural and historical phenomena particularly worthy of inquiry. Under this label, the conference intends to discuss any deliberate changes in content made by individuals intervening at different stages in the processes of textual production and transmission. First among these actors was the author, who occasionally amended his own text in order to present it to a new patron. The question of patronage was also the main reason behind changes made by copyists, who may have been wary of the reception of their work in a changing environment. Finally, readers could also intervene and strike out words or add notes in the margins. At the center of this set of intertwined processes lies the paramount relationship between text and context and the constant reinvention of content in order to serve the needs and sensibilities of the intended or actual readership. The study of this relationship allows invaluable insights into the cultural and political history of the Persianate world during the manuscript age.

To sum up, the conference aims at discussing the following research questions: What are ideological variants and how did these originate? What was the agency of the author or copyist in creating them and what scope did they have? What do variants tell us about the fundamental nature of texts and textual transmission in premodern times? The speakers will address these questions in a wide array of case studies, including historiographical and literary texts produced in various parts of the Persianate world.