Lecture by Professor William Granara: Narrating Muslim Sicily: War and Peace in the Medieval Mediterranean World


Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


CMES, Room 102, 38 Kirkland St Cambridge, MA 02138

CMES and the Committee on Medieval Studies present:

Narrating Muslim Sicily

William E. Granara
Gordon Gray Professor of the Practice of Arabic, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations & Department of Comparative Literature
Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University


February 25, 2020 || 4:00 to 6:00 pm

CMES, Room 102, 38 Kirkland St

Cambridge, MA 02138

In 902 the last Byzantine stronghold in Sicily fell, and the island would remain under Muslim control until the arrival of the Normans in the eleventh century. Drawing on a lifetime of translating and linguistic experience, in Narrating Muslim Sicily (2019, Bloomsbury), William Granara focuses on the various ways in which medieval Arab historians, geographers, jurists and philologists imagined and articulated their ever-changing identities in this turbulent period. All of these authors sought to make sense of the island's dramatic twists, including conquest and struggles over political sovereignty, and the painful decline of social and cultural life. Writing about Siqilliya involved drawing from memory, conjecture and then-current theories of why nations and people rose and fell. In so doing, Granara considers and translates, often for the first time, a vast range of primary sources - from the master chronicles of Ibn al-Athir and Ibn Khadun to biographical dictionaries, geographical works, legal treatises and poetry - and modern scholarship not available in English. He charts the shift from Sicily as 'warrior outpost' to vital and productive hub that would transform the medieval Islamic world, and indeed the entire Mediterranean.

Refreshments to follow Professor Granara’s talk.

Event sponsored by: the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Committee on Medieval Studies, Harvard University