Symposium - From Melancholy to Euphoria: The materialisation of emotion in Middle Eastern Manuscripts

Leila Alhagh's picture
Call for Papers
October 14, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Historic Preservation, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Islamic History / Studies, Middle East History / Studies


The Grimwade Centre for Cultural MaterialConservation, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies

From Melancholy to Euphoria:
The materialisation of emotion in Middle Eastern Manuscripts

7-8 February 2018, The University of Melbourne CALL FOR PAPERS

This Symposium will examine the relationship between text, manuscript production (calligraphy and illumination) and the elicitation and excitation of emotions in this form of transmission of knowledge and beliefs. This symposium is made possible by support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. The Middle Eastern Manuscript Collection in the University of Melbourne Library comprises works in Arabic and Persian, as well as Turkish, Urdu, Ethiopic, Syriac, Hebrew, Sanskirt, Pushtu, Prakit and Mongol scripts. The texts include Islamic religious texts, with Qur’ans and commentary on the Qur’an, as well as significant poetic works, educational textbooks and writing on history, biography, astrology, mathematics, philosophy and weaponry. In particular, the collection contains a number of significant Persian texts that examine heightened religious and secular emotional states within literary and visual material culture. These texts provide both an immersive emotional experience for those reading or performing the words, and a translational experience for readers of both the text and images where the beauty of the illumination and calligraphy acts as a catalyst for admiration, veneration and contact.

This symposium will examine the relationship between materiality (the constructed form of the manuscript), the textual content, and the emotional resonance that is elicited by those engaging with the texts. Taking the various manifestations of love, both religious and secular, depicted within these texts, and linking these to the great Persian stories told in text and music, this seminar will explore how a deep understanding of the text and the depiction of the stories within traverses an emotional continuum from melancholy to euphoria.

The symposium program includes four high profile keynote speakers including national and international academics and artists. The two-day symposium includes a public lecture, manuscript exhibition, workshops, and cultural events (Persian traditional music and Sufi dance).

This call for paper invites academics, researchers, industry professionals, post graduate students and scholars to elaborate on the various aspects of the subject by presenting a single 20-minute paper on your nominated topic.

Papers are accepted with a focus on emotions, projected within the stories and poetries of Islamic manuscripts as well as emotions which are excited during the process of manuscript production; calligraphy, painting, book binding, decorating etc.

The emotions include but are not limited to the following: Melancholy

Remorse Longing Awe Ecstasy

Keynote speakers:
Professor Robyn Sloggett AM – Director,
Grimwade Centre for Cultural Material Conservation, University of Melbourne Dr Stefano Carboni, Director, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Professor Mandana Barkeshli (Malaysia)
Professor Amir Zekrgoo (Malaysia)

Call for Papers

Please send your proposal to Sophie Lewincamp at by the deadline on Saturday 14 October 2017. The submission must include: full name, your title and affiliated institution, a one page bio, proposal title plus up to 600 word abstract with up to one page of references. Short listed papers will be invited to provide their full 2,500 word presentation. Confirmed participants may be invited to submit a full paper (up to 6,000 words with images) for publication in a special edition of the AICCM Bulletin with guest editor Professor Robyn Sloggett.

The paper must be presented in person at the two-day symposium held at the University of Melbourne on 7-8 February 2018.


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Contact Info: 

Leila Alhagh

Islamic Manuscript and Art Researcher
Phd Candidate
The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, Faculty of Arts,
The University of Melbourne
M: +61 (0)469389932
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