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Wisdom Encoded: The Digital Kalila wa-Dimna | Keynote Conversation with Beatrice Gründler, Bilal Orfali & Rima Redwan: Editing an Unruly Classic

News from Jul 01, 2020

An online series of conversations and workshops, hosted by Columbia Global Centers Amman (of Columbia University New York). Every Monday in July 2020.

Participation is open to the general public and free of charge; participants are kindly asked to register for the session - please see the registration link below.

Kalīla wa-Dimna is a text that is central to both Arabic and world literature. A collection of tales teaching political wisdom, it transcended languages, cultures, and religions. Throughout the centuries, the book travelled from India via the Middle East to Europe. In its course, it was translated from Sanskrit via Middle Persian and Arabic to Hebrew, Latin (under the title Directorium vitae humanae) and most European vernaculars, as well as Near Eastern, South Asian, and South-East Asian languages. Its religious and social context changed from Hinduism via Zoroastrianism to Islam, and from there to Christianity.

The work's multilingual history involving circa forty languages has never been systematically studied. The absence of available research has made world literature ignore it, while scholars of Arabic avoided it because of its widely diverging manuscripts. AnonymClassic, an ERC-funded project at the Freie Universität Berlin, has been hard at work creating a digital edition of this complicated text with a massive manuscript tradition. In partnership with Columbia Global Centers | Amman, this series introduces the project to a broader audience through a keynote conversation and three consecutive academic workshops open to the public. All sessions will be recorded for publication via digital media.

Keynote Conversation: Editing an Unruly Classic

Monday, July 6
(6:00 pm Berlin, 7:00 pm Amman, 12:00 pm New York)

Welcome by Hanya Salah, Deputy Director, Columbia Global Centers | Amman

Introduction by Matthew L. Keegan, Moinian Assistant Professor in Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College, Columbia University

Beatrice Gruendler, Chair of Arabic Language and Literature, Freie Universität Berlin

Bilal Orfali, Sheikh Zayed Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies, American University of Beirut
(Bilal Orfali is currently fellow at the EXC 2020 "Temporal Communities")

Rima Redwan, Research Fellow, Freie Universität Berlin

This discussion will introduce Kalīla wa-Dimna, a classic of world literature. The different versions of this story in Arabic manuscripts and in dozens of other languages has made producing a definitive edition impossible. Beatrice Gruendler's ERC project is using digital tools to tackle the first comprehensive study of these divergent versions.

This conversation will be followed by Q&A.


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