Techniques and Legacies of al-Suyūṭī's Muzhir
Techniques and Legacies of al-Suyūṭī’s Muzhir
Although Arabic literature abounds with industrious writers, the Mamluk polymath ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī (d. 911/1505) is in a class of his own. Considered the most prolific writer in Arabic and possibly the foremost representative of ”encyclopaedism” in the Mamluk period, al-Suyūṭī was a controversial figure in his own time who has bequeathed an equally complex legacy to modern scholarship. Most studies of al-Suyūṭī tend to have a historical focus, often dismissing his work as nothing more than unoriginal compilation. This view is frequently nurtured by tenacious narratives of a post-ʿAbbasid decline in Arab-Islamic cultural and intellectual production.
My research seeks to understand al-Suyūṭī’s working method and his self-conception as an author. It takes as its starting point al-Suyūṭī’s encyclopaedic work on the Arabic language, al-Muzhir fī ʿulūm al-lugha wa-anwāʿihā, and seeks to conduct a thorough investigation of al-Suyūṭī’s approach to philology in the context of Mamluk textual production.
Building on recent studies of encyclopaedism in Arabic and European literatures, book culture, authorship studies, and the (re-) emerging field of global philology, I will analyze al-Suyūṭī’s authorial method as well as the work’s reception and reading history in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish. An important aspect of my investigation into the reception and legacy of the Muzhir will consist of gathering and analyzing a corpus of the many extant manuscripts of the work.
First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Beatrice Gründler