Spring 2016 SEMINARS - April 6 2016

Seminar on Iranian Studies

Dear Iranian Studies Seminar Members and Guests,
The seventh meeting of the 28th consecutive year of Columbia University Seminar on
Iranian Studies for the academic year 2015-2016 will take place on:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
at 5:30 pm in the
Faculty House of Columbia University
Our speaker will be

Professor Sabine Schmidtke
of the Institute for Advanced Study
Who will lead the discussion on
Shii Studies in the West: Past, Present, and Perspectives for the Future

We will gather in the lounge of Faculty House from 5:00-5:30.
Seminar will start at 5:30.
Please notify our Rapporteur, Josiah Bethards, at jjb2190@columbia.edu, if you will attend the lecture. (Please also specify if you will stay for dinner.)

We are looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you at the seminar.
Co-Chairs: Vahid Nowshirvani and Ahmad Ashraf

To reach the Faculty House:
Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.


Unlike other "mainstream" fields of Arabic and Islamic studies, the scholarly exploration of Shiism began relatively late and evolved slowly, an observation that applies, with some variations, to all three major subdivisions of Shiite Islam — Zaydism, Ismailism and Imamism. Moreover, in contrast to many other sub-disciplines within Islamic Studies, there is up until now next to no academic institutional support for Shii Studies — be it in the form of a chair or university position or research institution specifically devoted to Shii Studies — within the academic landscape of North America or Europe. Moreover, there are significant differences between the scholarly traditions of the three subdivisions of Shiism, a fact not unrelated to the wider geopolitical situation in the Middle East and beyond. These differences, too, have impacted the academic study of Shiism. In the course of the lecture, the evolvement of Shii Studies as an academic discipline will be discussed, with remarks on its current situation.

About the Speaker

Dr. Sabine Schmidtke is Professor of Islamic Intellectual History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ. She has published extensively on Islamic and specifically Shiʿite (Imāmi and Zaydi) intellectual history and is the editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal Intellectual History of the Islamicate World (Brill, Leiden), as well as executive editor of another journal, Shii Studies Review (Brill, Leiden). Her works include Theologie, Philosophie und Mystik im zwölferschiitischen Islam des 9./15. Jahrhunderts. Die Gedankenwelt des Ibn Abī Jumhūr al-Aḥsāʾī (Leiden: Brill, 2000), and, together with R. Pourjavady, A Jewish Philosopher of Baghdad. ʿIzz al-Dawla Ibn Kammūna and his Writings (Leiden: Brill, 2006). Among her recent books is The Yemeni Manuscript Tradition (Leiden: Brill, 2015), co-edited with D. Hollenberg and Ch. Rauch.

Josiah Bethards
JD candidate
Columbia Law School