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Characterizing Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World

May 12-14, 2015

This conference  will use the particular case study of astrology as a means to study the broader implications of boundary-work. It will examine the intersections among science, the occult, and the religious cultures that lived in the medieval Islamic world—including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The conference hopes to complicate the categories of magic, science, and religion by looking at how boundaries between these fields were articulated by medieval scholars. Boundary-work, by its very nature, is interdisciplinary; the conference will bring together scholars of religious studies, history, sociology, art, and science studies to collectively examine the chosen case study of astrology. By looking at practices of, categorizations of, and debates surrounding astrology in the medieval Islamic world, the conference hopes to shed light on the broader questions of when, where, why, and how definitions and boundaries are established between science, magic, and religion.


 Keynote address by Reimund Leicht

   Robert Morrison, Astrology as Jewish Philosophy

   Godefroid de Callataÿ, “Why was Astrology so Important to the Authors of the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’?

   Ahmet Tunç Şen,  “An Ottoman Shaykh al-Islam in Support of Astrology: Kemal Pashazade (d. 1534) and his Treatise on Talismans” 

Teri Gee,  “Astrology vs. Astronomy in Abu Ma‘shar’s Kitab al-Madkhal al-Kabir” 

Venue: Swift Hall Lecture Hall (3rd floor)

Click here to view or download PDF of schedule

Click here for a PDF of participant abstracts


Keynote

Reimund Leicht,  Department of Jewish Thought, Hebrew University
“Characterizing Astrology in the Arab-Muslim World”   VIDEO

 

Tuesday, May 12

3:00pm    –  Dean Margaret M. Mitchell, welcome address

3:30pm    –  Keynote Lecture: Reimund Leicht, Department of Jewish Thought, Hebrew University

   “Characterizing Astrology in the Arab-Muslim World”

 

 

Wednesday, May 13

9:25am   –  Opening remarks by Elizabeth Sartell

9:30am    –  Session One; Chair: Alireza Doostdar, Divinity School, University of Chicago

9:30am    –  Matthew Melvin-Koushki, Department of History, University of South Carolina

"Powers of One: The Mathematicalization of the Occult Sciences in the Premodern Persianate Tradition"

Discussant: Daniel Stolz, Department of History, Northwestern University

10:30am    –  Noah Gardiner, Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan

“Esotericist Astrology in Aḥmad al-Būnī’s Laṭā'if al-ishārāt fī al-ḥurūf al-ʿulwīyāt

Discussant: Francesca Chubb-Confer, Divinity School, UChicago

11:30am    –  open questions

 

1:15pm    –  Session Two; Chair: Ortal-Paz Saar, Department of Classics, University of Chicago

1:15pm    –  Marla Segol, Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage, SUNY University at Buffalo

“Astrology, Medicine, Microcosm and Magic: The Mechanics of Theurgy in the Shiur Qomah, the Sefer Yetsirah, and their Interpreters”

Discussant: Shandra Lamaute, Divinity School, UChicago

2:15pm    –  Enrico Raffaelli, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto

“Astrology and Religion in the 9th-century Zoroastrian Texts”

Discussant: Edmund Hayes, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, UChicago

 

3:30pm    –  Josefina Rodriguez-Arribas, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität-Erlangen-Nürnberg

“At the Service of Divination: Astrological Instruments and Astrological Techniques”

Discussant: Jessica Andruss, Divinity School, UChicago

4:30pm    –  open questions

 

 

Thursday, May 14

9:25am    –  Opening remarks by Shandra Lamaute

9:30am    –  Session Three; Chair: Adrian Johns, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, University of Chicago

9:30am    –  Ahmet Tunç Şen, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

“An Ottoman Shaykh al-Islam in Support of Astrology: Kemal Pashazade (d. 1534) and

his Treatise on Talismans” 

Discussant: Mohamad Ballan, Department of History, UChicago

10:30am    –  Teri Gee, Department of Physics, Brigham Young University Idaho

“Astrology vs. Astronomy in Abu Ma‘shar’s Kitab al-Madkhal al-Kabir

Discussant: Nora Jacobsen Ben Hammed, Divinity School, UChicago

11:30am    –  open questions

 

1:15pm   –  Session Four; Chair: James Robinson, Divinity School, University of Chicago

1:15pm    –  Robert Morrison, Department of Religion, Bowdoin College

“Astrology as Jewish Philosophy”

Discussant: Yoni Shemesh, Divinity School, UChicago

2:15pm    –  Godefroid de Callataÿ, Institut des Civilisations, Arts et Lettres, Université Catholique de Louvain

“Why was Astrology so Important to the Authors of the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’?”

Discussant: Elizabeth Sartell, Divinity School, UChicago

3:15pm    –  open questions

3:45pm   –  Closing remarks by Shandra Lamaute and Elizabeth Sartell

4:15pm   –  Reception in the Swift Hall Common Room (first floor)

 


Organized by Divinity students Shandra Lamaute and Elizabeth Sartell; faculty sponsors Alireza Doostdar, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion, and James T. Robinson, Associate Professor of the History of Judaism. Questions? Email Elizabeth at   or Shandra at 

 

Sponsors
The Divinity School
Center for International Studies, Norman Wait Harris Fund
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Chicago Center for Jewish Studies
Dept of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Divinity Students Association 
Division of the Humanities
Franke Institute for the Humanities
Graduate Council 
Humanities Visiting Committee at The University of Chicago
Islamic Studies Workshop
Jewish Studies Workshop
The Martin Marty Center
MEHAT Workshop
Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine
Uncommon Fund