text & textiles

Thinking historically about material culture in the medieval Islamic world.

Professor Paula Sanders, Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies & Professor of History Rice University, Houston Texas

Medieval Arabic chronicles are filled with references to clothing and textiles, but no artifact from an archaeological excavation has ever been associated with a known literary reference. How, then, do medieval Islamic historians interpret the abundant literary evidence about textiles? And how do we provide a historical context in which to understand the textiles that are known to us?

This lecture explores these questions by discussing how historians can use a combination of archaeological finds, Arabic literary texts of different genres, and scarce Judeo-Arabic documentary materials from the Cairo Geniza to reconstruct the meanings of terms found in literary texts, to gain an understanding of the functions and meanings of objects within their societies, and to address broad questions of historical interpretation.

Paula Sanders has written extensively on the history of medieval and modern Cairo, the history and legacy of the Fatimid caliphate, and the history of Jewish communities in the medieval Islamic world. Her most recent book is Creating Medieval Cairo: Empire, Religion, and Architectural Preservation in Nineteenth Century Egypt. She is Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and Professor of History at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

This lecture is open to the public and no reservations are required.

Lecture Dates

17 Feb


Free - Open invitation