Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

W.M. Watt Annual Lecture 2019 - Professor Paul Starkey

For the fifth annual W.M. Watt Lecture at the University of Edinburgh, we are delighted to host Professor Paul Starkey, Professor of Arabic, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University.

In this lecture, Professor Starkey will consider the contribution to the Arabic nineteenth-century nahda (‘revival’) made by the Lebanese scholar Faris [later, Ahmad Faris] al-Shidyaq (1804-1887). Born into a Maronite family, al-Shidyaq spent much of his early life working for Western Protestant missionaries in Malta and Britain but subsequently converted to Islam and spent his final years in Istanbul, where he edited the influential Arabic newspaper al-Jawa’ib. Interested in everything and everyone, he acquired a close knowledge of contemporary European society, at one stage even visiting Edinburgh!

Interest in al-Shidyaq has increased recently with the publication of an English translation of his ground-breaking novel ­al-Saq ‘ala al-Saq [‘Leg over Leg’]. This lecture will attempt a reappraisal of a writer whose life can be read as a personal quest for identity but who also encapsulates many of the contradictions of an age of transition in the Middle East.    

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About IMES and W.M. Watt

Arabic has been taught at the University of Edinburgh for over 260 years, and today Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures) is globally recognised as a leading centre in the field.

From his appointment as Lecturer in Arabic in 1947, until his retirement as Professor in 1979, William Montgomery Watt made an outstanding contribution both to Islamic scholarship and to the development of IMES.

His 'Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam' (1949) was the first of more than twenty books on Islamic subjects.

The inaugural Watt Lecture was launched in November 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of Watt's Inaugural Lecture as the first Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Scotland. Previous speakers include Linda Komaroff (2018) Professor Nur Masalha (2017), Professor Maribel Fierro (2016), and Professor Carole Hillenbrand (2015). 

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Oct 30 2019 -

W.M. Watt Annual Lecture 2019 - Professor Paul Starkey

'In Search of Identity: Faris al-Shidyaq and the 19th-Century Arabic Revival'. A lecture by Professor Paul Starkey (Professor of Arabic, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University).

David Hume Tower - Lecture Theatre B
University of Edinburgh
George Square