Gestures of Perplexity in Persian Compendiums of Wonder and Rarity
February 5, 2021
Islamic compendiums of wonders wedded an interest in geography, astrology, talismans, and alchemical transmutations with accounts of jinn, angels, and strange creatures at the edges of the world. Demon possession and sex magic could leap out of one page only to be met on another with pious invocations to the majestic power of God manifest throughout creation. A central facet to the problem of wonder for intellectual and cultural history is the challenge of fathoming a world of enchantment obscured in the shadows of Orientalism, Islamic reform, and secular reason. In this talk, Travis Zadeh discusses his forthcoming book on wonder in Islamic philosophy, science, and literature, by turning to the wide and lasting circulation of Persian writings on natural marvels well into the nineteenth century. Travis Zadeh is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. He is the author of Mapping Frontiers Across Medieval Islam: Geography, Translation and the ‘Abbasid Empire (2011) and The Vernacular Qur’an:Translation and the Rise of Persian Exegesis (2012).