Medieval Arabic Historiography
Authors as Actors
Routledge – 2006 – 182 pages
Medieval Arabic Historiography is concerned with social contexts and narrative structures of pre-modern Islamic historiography written in Arabic in seventh and thirteenth-century Syria and Eygpt. Taking up recent theoretical reflections on historical writing in the European Middle Ages, this extraordinary study combines approaches drawn from social sciences and literary studies, with a particular focus on two well-known texts: Abu Shama’s The Book of the Two Gardens, and Ibn Wasil’s The Dissipater of Anxieties. These texts describe events during the life of the sultans Nur-al-Din and Salah al-Din, who are primarily known in modern times as the champions of the anti-Crusade movement. Hirschler shows that these two authors were active interpreters of their society and has considerable room for manoeuvre in both their social environment and the shaping of their texts.
Through the use of a fresh and original theoretical approach to pre-modern Arabic historiography, Hirschler presents a new understanding of these texts which have before been relatively neglected, thus providing a significant contribution to the burgeoning field of historiographical studies.
'Hirschler provides an in-depth study of Ayyubid historiography, concentrating on two historians, Abu Shama and Ibn Wasil, who for several decades observed and participated in the history described in their chronicles.]…[a most welcome contribution to the fields of history and historiography of Syria and Egypt in the twelfth and fifteenth centuries.' - Yehoshua Frenkel, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume 72/2-2009
'This is a first-rate study, lucidly written and argued and refreshingly free of jargon, that should not be missed by anyone who deals with Islamic, or more generally medieval, historiography.' - Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 82/3 (2007), Fred M. Donner
'This is a book which encourages scholars in both historical and literary studies to further develop interdisciplinary approaches to such fields as historiography.' - Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 20/2 (2008), Amira K. Bennison
'.. an original and enriching book that will be used widely and is an important contribution to medieval Arabic historiography.' - Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 160/1 (2010), Albrecht Fuess
1. Introduction 2. Historical and Historiographical Background 3. Social Contexts 4. Intellectual Contexts 5. Textual Agency I: Titles, Final Sections and Historicisation 6. Textual Agency II: Micro-Arrangement, Motifs and Political Thought
'Konrad Hirschler studied History and Islamic Studies in Hamburg, Bir-Zeit (Palestinian Territories) and London where he also completed his PhD. He is Senior Lecturer in the History Department of the School of Oriental and African Studies. His research focuses on the Middle East in the medieval period with a special interest in social history, intellectual history and the Crusades.