The word “Qur’an” in English is generally understood as referring to a sacred text, akin to the “Bible,” meaning literally “book” in Greek. Yet the Qur’an is not simply a book; it is a recitation that is also a sonic representation of a sacred original tablet extant only in the realm of the Divine. What, then, does it mean to display the Qur’an (as manifest in book form in a public space), such as a museum? To what extent and how can a physical object with a range of traits represent the relationship of the sacred word with Islam? This talk will explore how exhibits might move beyond the display of the Qur’an as material culture and engage as well with an intangibility inherent to Islam.
Professor Wendy Miriam K. Shaw (Ph.D. UCLA, 1999) has served as a professor in the United States, Turkey, Switzerland, and Germany. She researches postcolonial art historiography and decolonial art history of the Islamic world and the modern Middle East. She is author of Possessors and Possessed: Museums, Archaeology, and the Visualization of History in the Late Ottoman Empire (University of California Press, 2003), Osmanlı Müzeleri (İletişim Yayınları, 2006), Ottoman Painting: Reflections of Western Art from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic (IB Tauris, 2011). What is “Islamic” Art: Between Religion and Perception (Cambridge University Press, 2019, Honorable Mention for the 2020 Albert Hourani Book Award of the Middle East Studies Association and the 2021 Iran Book Award), and Loving Writing (Routledge, 2021).
Interested in finding out more about our organisation? MIAH Foundation’s inaugural lecture is part of our week of launch events for our arts and heritage charity. Come along and find out more about what we hope to create in the West Midlands. This lecture will also kickstart a series of art history lectures, in collaboration with Cadbury Research Library, that will focus on the arts of the Muslim world. Our thanks to Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham, who will be supporting the rest of the series.
This is a free public event. Everyone is welcome. You will have the option at checkout to create a standard free ticket or add a donation to support us to deliver similar events in the future (optional).
(Header image: f.2r, Mingana Islamic Arabic MS 1572a, Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham, Birmingham | Copyright: Cadbury Research Library )