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Presented By: Global Islamic Studies Center

IISS Lecture. "Epic encounters? Narrative, Archetypes, and Myth in Islamic Historiography."

D. Gershon Lewental, Schusterman visiting assistant professor of history and international & area studies, University of Oklahoma

What is history? Did the early Muslim historians intend their work to be read as dry accounts of the past or were they trying to tell their audiences something more? In this talk, D. Gershon Lewental will explain the challenges in studying early Islamic history and propose a novel interpretation: that the historical texts should be read like epic literature.

D. Gershon Lewental is a cultural historian of the Middle East, focusing on how societies use religion, memory, and conflict to define and maintain their identities. He has been the Schusterman visiting assistant professor in the Departments of History and International & Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma since 2012. He earned his degrees from Cornell University and Brandeis University, writing a dissertation on the changing perceptions of the Arab-Islamic conquest of Iran that received the Foundation of Iranian Studies Best Dissertation Award and the Brandeis University Glazter Dissertation Prize. His fields of specialization include early Islamic history and historiography, Iranian history, the Baha?i faith, and Israeli society.

Organized by the Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar (IISS), the only academic forum at the University of Michigan that engages students and faculty who are interested in the study of Islam and Muslim societies in an interdisciplinary and cross-regional conversation. Following our inception in the winter term 2010, IISS has grown to include a large number of both student and faculty participants. They represent a wide range of departments and programs including American Culture, Anthropology, Architecture and Urban Planning, Asian Languages and Cultures, History, Law, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Musicology, Natural Resources and Environment, Near Eastern Studies, Political Science, Romance Languages and Literatures, South Asian Studies, and Southeast Asian Studies.

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