International Conference: Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship

Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship

July 1-2, 2016

A conference to celebrate the drawing to an end of the HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) project on ‘Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship’ will be held at the University of Kent on Friday and Saturday, July 1 and 2, 2016. It will bring together all the scholars, from several European Universities, who have been engaged on the project, and who will present some of the results of their research over the last three years. Their number will be augmented by further scholars who have made valuable contributions to the fields covered by the project. The lectures and discussions will take place in the Keynes Lecture Theatre, no. 4 (KLT 4), Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury.


Friday July 1

10.30 Registration

11.00 Jan Loop and Charles Burnett, Introduction

11.30 Bernard Heyberger, ‘Eastern Christianity and Western Scholarship, 17-18th C.’

12.15 Nuria Martinez de Castilla Muñoz, ‘Charles V and Arabic Manuscripts: the Expedition to Tunis (1535)’


1.00 Lunch


2.00 Benjamin Hübbe, ‘Vestigia Coffeae: Early Modern Controversies over the Traces of Coffee in the Bible’

2.45 Richard van Leeuwen, ‘The Thousand and One Nights and Orientalism in 18th-Century European Literature’


3.30 Visit to Canterbury Cathedral

7.30 Dinner


Saturday 2 July

10.00 Gerard Wiegers, ‘Thomas Erpenius’s Views on Empirical and Philological Approaches’

10.45 Hilary Kilpatrick, ‘Contributions from Behind the Scenes to Arabic Studies in 17th-Century Northern Europe’


11.30 Coffee

12.00 Reinhold Glei, ‘Sleeping in the Cave: Zechendorff’s Latin Translation of the Qur’an (1632)’

12.45 Asaph Ben-Tov, ‘Johann Conrad Schwartz (1676-1747): A Latin School Headmaster’s Search for Plagiarism and Abrahamic Philosophy in the Qur’an’


1.30 Lunch


2.30 Klaus Karttunen, ‘Knowledge of and Ideas about Islam in Finland from the 16th to the Early 20th Century’

3.15 Outi Merisalo, ‘The Status of Arabic in some Dissertations supervised by C.A. Clewberg (1712-1765) at the Academy of Turku, Finland’


4.00 Tea

4.30 Dorrit van Dalen, ‘Johannes Theunisz and Abd al-Aziz: a Romance in Arabic Studies, 1609-1610’

5.15 Bernd Roling, ‘The Gothic Heritage of Cabala. Christian Cabalists in 18th Century Sweden and the History of Swedish Oriental Studies’


6.00 Final drinks

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Opening of the exhibition: Encounters with the Orient – Arabs in the West

Thursday 23 June from 16.00 o’clock to 19.00  o’clock (doors open at 15.30) in the Nina van Leer Hall at the Allard Pierson Museum. 

This summer, the Allard Pierson Museum brings the fascinating Orient to Amsterdam in a three-part exhibition. Egypt, Turkey and North Africa are all examined through the eyes of academics, each of whom introduces their own story.


Wise Men from the Orient (1600-1700) focuses on Oriental travellers who engaged in dialogue with academics from the Dutch Republic. This allowed interest in Arabic language and literature to flourish and helped to blur prejudices against Islam. The second part concentrates on Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), the eccentric Egyptologist who was famed for his fanatic documentary work and photography, but also for throwing tins of food against the wall to test if year-old provisions were still edible. And last but not least, the exhibition shines the spotlights on C. H. Emilie Haspels (1894-1980),the Netherlands’ first female Archaeology professor and former Director of the Allard Pierson Museum. In the 1930s, she donned long trousers and headed to Turkey to supervise excavations.
The programme starts at 16:00 o’clock and sees the Allard Pierson Museum welcome various speakers, including the Turkish Ambassador in The Netherlands, HE Mr Sadık Arslan, to talk about the exhibition. Dr. John-Paul Ghobrial will hold a lecture on the relationship between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. At 17:00 o’clock, all guests are invited to visit the exhibition. The opening is during Ramadan and out of respect for some of our guests, the reception will be suitably modest.
Please register for the opening by clicking on this link.
You will be sent an email confirming your registration.
This invitation is strictly personal and valid for one person. In the evening the museum will be open. You will receive a seperate invitation for this occasion.

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Antoine Galland and the Thousand and One nights Tradition: Perceptions and Perspectives

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the death of Antoine Galland, the first translator of the Thousand and one nights, the Literaturhaus Berlin, in co-operation with the European research programme Encounters with the Orient in early modern Europe, organizes a commemorative day dedicated to Galland and his work.

The programme consists of an academic workshop to discuss the place of Galland’s Mille et une nuits in the various traditions and its multifarious afterlives; a roundtable discussion between three translators of the Thousand and one nights about the technical and cultural problems related to such an ambitious translation; and readings by authors who in some way or another find inspiration in the Thousand and one nights for their own work, showing that the narrative dynamics of Shaharazad is still felt.


Academic session: Antoine Galland and the Thousand and one nights tradition: perceptions and perspectives.

9.30 Musical Ouverture:

The “One Thousand and One Nights” theme (comp. Baligh Hamdi for Umm Kulthum) accompanied by the opening of the Galland Manuscript in Arabic and German.

Performing: Claudia Ott (nay, recitation); Hanan El-Shemouty (qanun); Hadi Alizadeh (percussion)


Chair: Charles Burnett

9.45 – 10.30 Ibrahim Akel (Paris), Some notes on the Arabic manuscripts in the collection of Galland “Gallandanus”

10.30 – 11.15 Ulrich Marzolph (Göttingen), Galland in the Making: The early travel diaries (1672–73) in the light of comparative folk narrative research

11.15 – 12.00 Robert Irwin (London), The Abbe Terrasson’s Sethos (1731) and other Egyptological fantasies


Lunch Break

13.40 Musical Intermezzo: Improvisations on the Ottoman Turkish theme “Mevlana”


Chair: Richard van Leeuwen

13.45 – 14.30 Paulo Lemos Horta (Abu Dhabi), Collaborators and Translators

14.30 – 15.15 Elisabetta Benigni (Torino), An overview on 19th and 20th centuries Italian translation of the Thousand and One Nights and the emergence of Italian “nocturnal literature”


16.00 – 17.00 Translators roundtable: Translating the Thousand and one nights: cultural and literary perspectives

Chair: Paulo Lemos Horta


Ellen Wulff (Denmark)

Claudia Ott (Germany)

Amund Bjørsnøs (Norway)

Richard van Leeuwen (Netherlands)


17.30 – 19.00 Literary readings:

Musical Opening: Samai Huzam (comp. Abdo Saleh) accompanied by a love poem out of the Galland Manuscript of the Thousand and One Nights in Arabic and German


Chair: Jan Loop

Thomas Lehr

Mircea Cartarescu


Musical Finale: Longa Riyad (comp. Riyad al-Sunbati)





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Johann Ernst Gerhard the Elder (1621-1668) is not a household name. Like most scholars (present reader excluded) his work aged rapidly and was of limited interest to the next generation – and of none to the following. Gerhard’s life and work as an orientalist are nonetheless instructive. At the end of the seventeenth century the Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg purchased the Gerhardina collection, incorporating the library and manuscript nachlass, of Gerhard’s father, the prominent Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard (1582-1637), as well as Johann Ernst Gerhard’s papers. This massive collection includes Johann Ernst Gerhard’s library, heavily annotated dissertations and disputations, lecture notes, travel diaries, and his extensive correspondence. All these allow us an unusually close look at a seventeenth-century scholar at work as well as shedding light on the intellectual and social contexts within which his scholarship evolved. In a sense Johann Ernst Gerhard is an ideal “minor thinker” – typical enough of his day to be instructive, yet intelligent enough to be interesting. The aim of this project is to produce a biography, which, using this rich collection, will attempt to reconstruct and understand the life and work of this forgotten orientalist. In the meantime, I would like to use this blog not so much to post “preliminary findings” as to occasionally upload and discuss single sources, which may be of interest to those concerned with early modern scholarship and to all who have a weakness for occasional Neo-Latin gossip from the seventeenth-century Republic of Letters.


The blog can be found here

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Workshop “Apotheosis of the North” (Berlin, Finnland-Institut, 16 – 17 December 2014)

This workshop hosted by the subproject A 15, part of the SFB 644 “Transformations of Antiquity”, invites international scholars from various disciplines to trace the phenomenon of Goticism beyond Olof Rudbeck the Elder. Publishing his “Atlantica” between 1679 and 1702, this Swedish polymath presented a glorification of the “Carolinian Empire” reaching back over ancient times as far as the very beginning of humanity. In this monument of science, he identified both Sweden and Finland as the “Urreich”, the original place populated by Japheth’s first descendants of postdiluvian times. At the same time, Scandinavia was declared Plato’s Atlantis and the setting of various classical myth, which Rudbeck transformed in his Northern interpretation. In addition, the “Atlantica” reclaimed several tribes described by ancient authors such as the Amazons, Hyperboreans, Goths and Scythians. Yet Rudbeck, a thorough Goticist, did a lot more. Taking up the threads left by men like Johannes Bureus, Georg Stiernhielm, Olof Verelius and the Magnus brothers, he succeeded in unifying his predecessors’ claims to a Gothic heritage and the superiority of Sweden. In his own scientific approach, Rudbeck drew heavily on what we would call “linguistics”, a subject prospering throughout Europe at that time. Furthermore, the extensive interest in Scandinavian and oriental antiquities, as favored in contemporary Baroque scholarship, left its traces in Rudbeck’s work. This “Titan” of Uppsala inspired at least two generations of philologists, antiquarians, as well as scholars dealing with theology and oriental, Scandinavian or Finno-Ugric studies. At the same time, Rudbeck’s intellectual heritage also proved to be a burden to Scandinavian scholarship. His national mythology and his contribution to apotheosizing the Carolinian Empire became part of a scientific policy considerably affecting Scandinavian scholarship. Defending and sustaining this ideology could play an important part in academic careers, before scholars like Schlözer, Porthan and Ihre successfully pointed out the shortcomings of Rudbeck’s approach. Nevertheless, his nationalistic claim should also spark a Finnish counterpart as represented in the ancient history written by Daniel Juslenius.

Focusing on various representatives as well as enemies, Rudbeck’s impact on the following generations shall be reassessed in this workshop. What role did he play in Scandinavian and oriental philology, but also in the national emancipation of Finland? How much did he depend on his predecessors? How did he and his ideas contribute to Swedish nationalism yet to come, especially when employed as a subject of science policy at the universities? And how far did Rudbeck’s heritage actually reach in Scandinavian scholarship as well as at universities in German- and English-speaking areas?



Apotheose des Nordens Die Verherrlichung Schwedens und Finnlands im barocken Antiquarismus
Workshop des Teilprojektes A 15 (Die Nordische Trransformation der Antike) Berlin, 17.-18. Dezember

Als Schwedens Universalgelehrter Olaus Rudbeck in den Jahren 1679-1702 seine monumentale ‚Atlantica’ veröffentlichte, hatte er eine über die Antike bis in die Anfangstage der Menschheit reichende Glorifizierung des karolinischen Imperiums vorgelegt: Schweden und Finnland waren das von den Nachkommen Japhets besiedelte Urreich der Epoche nach der Sintflut gewesen, das wahre Atlantis, der Schauplatz der antiken Mythologie, die Heimat der Amazonen ebenso wie der apollinischen Hyperboreer, der Skythen und Goten. Rudbeck hatte jedoch noch weit mehr geleistet: Er lieferte eine Synthese all jener gotizistischen Überhöhungen Skandinaviens, die bei den Gebrüdern Magnus angefangen schon im ‚mitternächtlichen Löwen’ Gustav Adolph ihren ersten Heroen gefunden hatten und vor Rudbeck Männer wie Johannes Bureus, Georg Stiernhielm und Olaus Verelius zu phantastischen Spekulationen veranlassen konnte. Als Wissenschaftler profitierte Rudbeck vom gesamteuropäischen Aufschwung der Sprachwissenschaft und einem ausgreifenden barocken Interesse an nordischen ebenso wie an orientalischen Altertümern, das die gesamte Gelehrtenrepublik erfaßt hatte. Mit gleichem Recht inspirierte der Titan von Uppsala nach ihm zwei Generationen von Philologen, Nordisten, Finno-Ugristen und Antiquaren, aber auch Orientalisten und Theologen, doch wurde für sie in seiner Erklärungswut auch zur Belastung. Die in seiner Person verdichtete schwedische Nationalmythologie, die beispiellose Apotheose des karolinischen Reiches, konnte zum Katalysator einer Wissenschaftspolitik werden, die weite Teile des skandinavischen Universitätslebens, wie Professoren wie Rudeen oder Clewberg dokumentieren, in Mitleidenschaft ziehen konnte und die Gelehrtenwelt zur Stellungnahme und spätestens ab der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts, wie Schlözer, Porthan und Ihre zeigen, auch zur Abwehr nötigte. Finnland sollte sich als Antwort auf Rudbeck mit Daniel Juslenius seine eigene Urgeschichte schreiben; in Dänemark und Deutschland blieben die Reaktionen denkbar reserviert.

Unser Workshop, der innerhalb des Teilprojektes A 15 des SFB 644 (Transformationen der Antike) stattfindett, möchte die antiquarische Glorifizierung Schwedens über Rudbeck hinaus als vielschichtige Bewegung mit seinen Repräsentanten ebenso wie mit seinen Gegnern in seinem europäischen Kontext beleuchten und als wissenschaftspolitisches Phänomen neu diskutieren. Wie verortet sich Rudbeck vor dem Hintergrund einer im 17. Jahrhundert florierenden Nordistik und Orientalistik, wie mit Blick auf die nationale Emanzipation Finnlands? Welche Rolle spielen seine Vorgänger und wie konnten die späteren universitären Apologeten der schwedischen Nation aus ihm Nutzen ziehen? Welchen Einfluß hatte er auf die Einzelwissenschaften in Skandinavien, aber auch im deutschen und englischen Raum in der Folgezeit ausgeübt?


Workshop Programme ‘Apotheosis of the North’

Berlin, 16th-17th December, 2014, Finnland-Institut (Berlin Mitte (S-Bahn Friedrichstraße), Georgenstr. 24 (1st floor)

Tuesday 16th December, 2014

Informal get-together in the evening for those who have already arrived (place and time t.b.a.)

Wednesday 17th December, 2014

10:00-10:45 Bernd Roling, Freie Universität Berlin: Opening and keynote address

10:45-11:30 Sofia Guthrie, University of Warwick: “Goths and Gauls in Antoine Garissoles’ Adolphid”

11:30-12:15 Peter Sjökvist, University of Uppsala: “Petrus Lagerlöf instructing Gothicism”

12:15-12:45 Coffee-break

12:45-13:30 Outi Merisalo, University of Jyväskylä: “Musta minä muiden nähden / walkiaoman emännän, id est niger ego aliis, candidus propriae uxori videor. Daniel Juslenius zur finnischen Kulturgeschichte”

– Lunch –

15:00-15:45 Vera Johanterwage, University of Frankfurt (Main): “Biörner’s Translations of Old Norse Sagas in his Nordiska Kämpa Dater”

15:45-16:30 Christian Peters, University of Münster: “Tears of amber and a skid mark in the northern sky. Relocating the Heliades to the Baltic Sea”

16:30-17:00 Coffee-break

17:00-17:45 Bernhard Schirg, Freie Universität Berlin: “Phoenix going bananas. Olof Rudbeck’s Northern transformation of a classical myth and its echo in 18th-century scholarship”

19:00 Dinner (place: t.b.a.)


Thursday 18th December, 2014

10:00-10:45 Annie Burman, University of Cambridge: “Language Comparison before Comparative Linguistics: theories of language change and classification in Olof Rudbeck’s Atlantica”

10:45-11:30 Stefan Bauman, Freie Universität Berlin: “Ex septentrione lux – Hebrews in America”

11:30-12:00 Coffee-break

12:00-12:45 Benjamin Hübbe, Freie Universität Berlin: “The Fauna of fallen Babylon – Carolus Aurivillius about the animals in Is. 13, 21 and the task of the Biblica Hermeneutica”

12:45-13:30 Bernd Roling, Freie Universität Berlin: “Rudbeck und der Orientalismus des 19. Jahrhunderts”

– Lunch –

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Workshop “Studying God’s Languages – Scholars of Hebrew and Arabic in Early Modern Europe” (The Warburg Institute, London, 29 May 2015)

This one-day workshop is organised by Joanna Weinberg (Oxford) and  Jan Loop (Kent, The Warburg Institute) and will be held on 29 May 2015. The workshop will look at the two faces of scholars of Hebrew and Arabic, trying to examine how and if their approaches to the two languages differ. Our speakers will look at the Arabist and Hebraist works of selected early modern orientalists like Thomas Erpenius, Edward Pococke, Guillaume Postel, and Johann David Michaelis.

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Colloquium “Sharing the Holy Land. Perceptions of Shared Sacred Space in the Medieval and Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean” (The Warburg Institute, London, 12 – 13 June 2015)

This colloquium is organised by Jan Vandeburie and Jan Loop and it seeks to address how both Western pilgrims, and the indigenous Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Levantine populations, perceived the sharing of religious shrines with other faiths. In particular, scholars will look at how this sharing is described and explained in contemporary accounts and how this influenced the knowledge of other faiths among the Semitic religions. The symposium will focus on the period from c.1100 to c.1600, addressing the changing political context in the Levant and its influence on the sharing of sacred space. Speakers will include Bernard Hamilton (Nottingham), Benjamin Kedar (Hebrew University Jerusalem) and Ora Limor (Open University

The final programme will be published shortly.

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International Conference “Ludolf and Wansleben. Oriental Studies, Politics, and History between Gotha and Africa 1650-1700” (Gotha, 11 – 13 May 2015)

The conference is organised by Martin Mulsow, Asaph Ben-Tov and Jan Loop and it is part of the HERA-project ‘Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern Europe’. It has the title “Ludolf and Wansleben. It will take place at the Forschungszentrum Gotha, 11 – 13 May 2015.

Speakers include Alessandro Bausi, Ulrich Groetsch, Toon van Hal, Alastair Hamilton, Thérèse-Marie Jallais, Holger Kürbis, Gaby Mahlberg, Scott Mandelbrote, Markus Meumann, Norbert Nebes, Bernd Roling, Sabine Schmolinsky, Alexander Schunka, Wolbert Smidt, and Jürgen Tubach.

More details and the programme can be found here.

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Postdoctoral Researcher in the HERA-Project ‘Encounters with the Orient’

The Amsterdam School for Culture and History (ASCH) and the Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies are looking for a postdoctoral researcher in the History Arabic and Islamic Studies as part of the collaborative research project ‘Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern Europe’, of which the Amsterdam part is supervised by Prof. dr. Gerard Wiegers.

The successful candidate will have the following main tasks:

  • preparing and coordinating an exhibition at the Special Collection of the Amsterdam University Library on The Presence of Arabic Speaking Christians, Jews and Muslims in Northern Europe at the Special Collections, University of Amsterdam, and collaborating in writing the catalogue and organising public lectures;
  • writing two peer-reviewed articles on a topic relevant to the HERA project.

Further details about the position and application procedures can be found under

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