The subject of the discussion is once again the collection of more than 1,500 Arabic manuscripts that Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767-1811) acquired in Cairo for his patron, Duke Ernst II. (1745-1804) of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg. The manuscripts cover the whole of Islamic history, from early Qur'anic fragments to poems about Napoleon's fledgling occupation of Egypt. Examining the contents of the collection in conjunction with Seetzen's correspondence offers an insight into the book culture Seetzen encountered in early 19th century Cairo.
Ahmed El Shamsy is associate professor of Islamic thought at the University of Chicago. He is concerned with the intellectual history of Islam, focusing on the development of classical Islamic disciplines and scholarly culture in their broader historical context. His research addresses topics such as orality and literacy, the history of the book, and the theory and practice of Islamic law. His most recent book, Rediscovering the Islamic Classics, traces the transition of classical Islamic literature from manuscript to print. His other publications include the monograph "The Canonization of Islamic Law" and numerous articles on various aspects of the Islamic tradition.