Islamic History (G1/A1)

Teacher: Prof. Hugh Kennedy
Frequency: Two lectures: one in term 1 and one in term 2

Lecture 1: The Legacy of Ibn Khaldun: life, ideas and influence

14th century Arab historian and thinker Ibn Khaldun is considered by some to be the father of modern historiography and sociology. According to historian Arnold J. Toynbee, his best know work The Muqaddimah is “a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place.”

In this lecture, Professor Hugh Kennedy of SOAS, will discuss the life, times and ideas of Ibn Khaldun, and the ways in which his work has influenced modern scholarship.

Lecture 2: Baghdad and the House of Wisdom 

According to a popular tradition, when the Mongols besieged Baghdad in 1258, destroying the city and its libraries, the books and manuscripts thrown into the river Tigris were so large in number that its waters ran black with ink. Once considered a centre of culture and learning, Baghdad was said to contain 36 public libraries and over a hundred book dealers [1].

In this lecture, Professor Kennedy will explore the establishment and growth of Baghdad’s House of Wisdom, which attracted scholars from around the Islamic world, initiating the translation movement and an age of learning and scientific discovery.

[1] J.W. Thompson: The Medieval library, Hafner Publishing Co., 1957, p. 351.

Hugh Kennedy 1 2016