Feb 2, 6, & 9: Quranic studies job candidate talks

UMN Quranic studies Job Candidate Visits

RELS is currently hiring two new faculty members in the area of Islamic Studies and, as part of the interview process, will be hosting lunches for graduate students to get to know the candidates. Information on the candidates, their job talk titles and abstracts, and on the lunches follows below.

You are all very cordially invited to the following job talks, and the receptions afterwards.

You are also very warmly invited to join graduate students from several departments at a lunch with the candidates. There are several slots available at these lunches and it would be great to have students from a diversity of fields attending in order to give the candidates a sense of how our interdepartmental program works.


Thursday, February 2
Suleyman Dost, University of Chicago
Graduate Student Lunch, 12:30 - 1:30, Location: 1229 Heller. Please rsvp by Tuesday, Feb 1 to sterk@umn.edu
Job Talk, 4:00 PM, Location: 1210 Heller Hall

"From Nabataea to Arabia Felix: Tracing the Origins of the Qur'ān in Pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions"
The Qur'ān emerged in a corner of the Arabian Peninsula where we find today next to nothing by way of documentary evidence. In a few decades after its composition, the Qur'ān was destined to be collected, codified and intensively studied in the major centers of Judeo-Christian and Zoroastrian learning. The study of pre-Islamic Arabian inscriptions provides us with a rare opportunity to find parallels to the otherwise idiosyncratic language of the Qur'ān and to shed light on the context of the Qur'ān's origins before it became the scripture between two covers as we know it.

Monday, February 6
George Archer, Georgetown University
Graduate Student Lunch, 12:0 - 1:00, Location 125 Nolte Please rsvp to jkilde@umn.edu by Friday, Feb 3.
Job Talk, 4:00 PM, Location: 35 Nicholson

"The Qurʾān, Number Games, and the Oral Landscape of Late Antiquity"

Everyone who studies the Qurʾān makes note of the fact that the Qurʾān is not primarily a written text, but rather an oral recitation given first to a highly oral culture. This project argues that the orality of the Qurʾān and its first audience is essential to understanding how the Qurʾān operated in the milieu in which it first appeared. For an example of how we can use what we know of orality to better grasp the Qurʾānic world, we will look at a mysterious passage in Qurʾān 74:30-31. There we are told that over hell stands "nineteen." The following verse explains that this number refers to the angels, and that "We have made their number only as a test for the disbelievers." But this same verse which describes the nineteen is itself bizarre in a number of ways: it is oddly long, breaks the rhythm of the passage violently, and appears to use a different vocabulary set as the rest of the chapter in which it is found. This strangeness has led many Islamic and historical-critical scholars to assume that the text itself has been back-edited to explain the number nineteen. I will use structural and oral rhetorical methods to show that this is not the case. The content, style, and structure of these verses are all deliberate, and are responding to various debates about numbers and numerology in the Late Antique Near East, with the theological number games of the Christians the target in question.


Thursday, February 9
Moshen Goudarzi Taghanaki, PhD candidate, Harvard University
Graduate Student Lunch, 12:00 - 1:00, Location: 125 Nolte -- Please rsvp to jkilde@umn.edu byTuesday, Feb 7.
Job Talk, 4:00 PM. Location: 140 Nolte

"The Second Coming of the Book: On the Meaning and End of Muhammad's Movement"

What was Muhammad's conception of his mission? How did he envision God's past dealings with humanity, and how did he relate his prophetic career to this past? This talk attempts to shed new light on these fundamental questions by engaging with the Qur'anic text, our earliest and most reliable source for probing the convictions and aims of Muhammad and his followers. Focusing on the Qur'an's discourse on prophets and scriptures, I will suggest that Muhammad saw his mission as the second major act in the drama of the Abrahamic covenant: previously, Moses had been the only prophet to receive a comprehensive scripture, the Torah, which was meant as a guide for the Children of Israel. It was now Muhammad's charge to bring a similarly comprehensive revelation, the Qur'an, for the benefit of Ishmael's descendants, the Arabs. In addition to arguing for this thesis, I will reflect on some of its far-reaching consequences for the emergence of Islam.
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