Book Discussion: On Print Cultures in the 19th-Century Islamic World
DATE + TIME: Tuesday, February 21, 5:00-6:30 pm
LOCATION: Building 37 (CAH), American University of Beirut (AUB)
DISCUSSANTS: Jan van der Putten (University of Hamburg) + Hala Auji (AUB)
MODERATOR: Bilal Orfali (AUB)
This event will be a public discussion of Hala Auji’s recent monograph on 19th century Arabic book culture, "Printing Arab Modernity: Book Culture and the American Press in 19th Century Beirut (Brill: 2016)," which is located in the interstices of art history, book and print culture, and studies of Arab modernity and Ottoman historiographies. "Printing Arab Modernity" examines the American Protestant mission’s Arabic publications printed in Beirut for Ottoman readers during a period dominated by Islamic and Christian manuscript practices. This book also explores the growing significance of the visual dimensions of print for such audiences, specifically how print reflected a push-pull dynamic between the continuity of scribal customs and an experimentation with new technologies. This was indicative of a moment when local intellectuals were formulating a visual language that negotiated their varied communal concerns, political motivations, and intellectual conceptions of a modern society.
Although the subject of this book centers on the Arab Nahda period in Ottoman Beirut, the book discussion considers a wider, globally comparative perspective by exploring print-related developments during this period in the Global South, specifically Southeast Asia. The conversation between Dr. Jan van der Putten and Auji will provide a new perspective from which we can consider the history of book culture during transitional periods such as the 19th century, and to explore how notions of modernity varied or overlapped in different regions, which also saw encounters between Islamic communities and Christian missionary groups.
The event is hosted by AUB's Center for the Arts and Humanities (CAH) and the Department of Fine Arts and Art History (FAAH), with the additional support of the Center for Arab and Middle East Studies (CAMES)