Devin J. Stewart (Emory University)
Fellow in Research Area 3: "Future Perfect"
November – December 2022
Stories Travel from East to West: The Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadīm, Kalīlah wa-Dimnah, and Other Narratives
In this project, Devin J. Stewart attempts to explain the ideas and assumptions that underly Book VIII of the Fihrist al-ʿUlūm (The Catalogue of the Sciences), an encyclopedic work compiled in 377/987 by the Baghdad bookseller Ibn al-Nadīm (d. 380/990). Part of an attempt to map human knowledge as recorded in Arabic texts, Book VIII is devoted to tales and anecdotal literature. Notable features of the book are that it draws extensively on Persian, Byzantine and Indian tale traditions though it emphasizes the material that has been translated into Arabic; that it conceives of tale collections as falling into a wide variety of sub-genres; and perhaps above all that it assigns the dominant role in this literature to the ancient Persians (Sassanians). Another striking feature of Ibn al-Nadīm’s presentation is the central place he assigns to The 1001 Nights and Kalīlah and Dimnah within this literature.
Devin J. Stewart received a BA degree magna cum laude in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 1984 and a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. He is currently the Chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. His research interests include Qur’anic studies; Shiite Islam and Islamic sectarian relations; Islamic law, legal theory and legal education; medieval Arabic prose literature, biographies and autobiographies; and speech genres in Arabic literature and modern dialects. Selected published studies include the following: “The Humor of the Scholars: The Autobiography of Niʿmat Allah al-Jaza’irı.” Iranian Studies 22.2-3 (1989): 47–81; “Sajʿ in the Qur'an: Prosody and Structure,” Journal of Arabic Literature 21 (1990): 101–39; “Professional Literary Mendicancy in the Letters and Maqamat ofʿ Badīʿ al-Zamān al-Hamadhānī,” pp. 39–47 in Writers and Rulers: Perspectives on Their Relationship from Abbasid to Safavid Times, ed. Beatrice Gruendler and Louise Marlowe (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2004); “The Maqāmāt of Aḥmad b. Abī Bakr al-Rāzī al-Ḥanafī and the Ideology of the Counter-Crusade in Twelfth-Century Syria,” Middle Eastern Literatures 11.2 (2008): 211–32; “Editing the Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadīm,” Journal of Abbasid Studies 1 (2014): 159–205; “Of Rhetoric, Reason, and Revelation: Ibn al-Jawzī’s Maqāmāt as an Anti-Parody and Sefer Tahkemoni of Jehūdah al-Ḥarīzī,” Journal of Middle Eastern Literatures 19 (2016):1–28; “ʿĪsā b. Hišām’s Shiism and Religious Polemic in the Maqāmāt of Badīʿ al-Zamān al-Hamādānī (d. 398/1008),” Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 10 (2022): 11–81.