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Sources for the Study of Central Asian History
Catalog number CEUS-U 720
Ron Sela

This seminar is designed as the fundamental training for graduate students in the field of Central Asian history. Lectures cover thoroughly all types of sources used for the study of the history of Central Asia during the Islamic period (8th-19th c.), with special emphasis on written sources, both in indigenous and European languages.

Among the topics to be discussed:

Classification of historical sources, bio-bibliographical reference works and manuscript catalogs, paleography in the Islamic world, narrative sources (historical, geographical, biographical, hagiographical, administrative manuals, epics and legends), documentary sources, textological studies and methods of publication, approaches to translation, and availability of sources for various regions of Central Asia.

Theoretical and methodological approaches to the field ­– with special emphasis on the greater context of Islamic history – will acquaint students with the ways in which different types of sources should be used in the study of Central Asian history.

Meetings will be held in the reading room of the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies.

Prerequisites: Background in Central Asian history and a reading knowledge of at least one European research language other than English, or permission of the instructor. Familiarity with Cyrillic and Arabic scripts is desirable.  

Readings: A reading list will be provided by the beginning of the semester (in English and supplementary languages).  

Requirements: Active participation in the seminar; one presentation of a bio-bibliographical project; one research paper examining a primary source. Depending on the class composition, the research paper may be part of a group project that will result in a publication.

At the end of the semester students will also complete a final examination that will require some research in the library.