This lecture will attempt an overview of the importance of writing to an understanding of Islamic art, and will seek to explain its high prestige in the Muslim world. It will focus on both calligraphy and inscriptions, whether executed on a minute or a grand scale, and will show how endlessly varied the uses of writing could be. It will deal with the talismanic uses of writing, the balance between ornament and content, the issue of legibility and the use of writing as an aid to contemplation.
Robert Hillenbrand, F.B.A., F.R.S.E., Professor Emeritus of Islamic Art, Edinburgh University, and currently teaching as Professorial Fellow of Islamic Art at St Andrews University, has published 11 books, co-authored, edited or co-edited a further 12 books, and published some 170 articles or book chapters. He has been Slade Professor at Cambridge and has held visiting professorships at Princeton, UCLA, Bamberg, Dartmouth College, New York, Leiden, Cairo and Groningen. He has organised ten conferences. His interests focus on Islamic architecture (especially in Iran and Umayyad Syria), book painting and iconography. In 2018 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Iranian Studies in California, and in 2019, together with his wife Professor Carole Hillenbrand, he received the Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Society’s highest award, given periodically in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of Asian studies.
(Seminars start at 5.00 p.m.)