The Center for French and Francophone Studies

FDH project “An Early Arabic Library”

Wednesday, Oct. 26, noon-1:30, the Studio, The Edge, Rostock Library – lunchtime discussion with Emilie Picherot


The week of Oct. 24th, the Center is primed to welcome our colleague, Emilie Picherot who teaches Comparative Literature [Arabic, Spanish, French], at the Université de Lille 3. We are, in fact, welcoming her back to Duke since she taught in Romance Studies a number of years ago.

Prof. Picherot is the lead investigator in the new project of our Francophone Digital Humanities Initiative, one extending our work into Arabic and Romance Languages.

“It is impossible to understand the particular relationship of France to the Arabo-Muslim world”, Picherot writes, “without returning again to the earliest tradition of studying Islam in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. The evidence of this practice is given concrete form by collections of Arabic manuscripts put together carefully by several scholars of the Arab world – and this long before Antoine Galland, and his contemporary Pétis de la Crois, the French scholars of the Arab world usually identified as the first.”

The goal of the FDH project, “An Early Arabic Library,” is to begin giving access to these manuscripts in digital form. Picherot chooses, first, the only aljamiado manuscript in the French National Library, BNF, Arabic 774. It’s a miscellany that demonstrates the specific writing practices of the crypto-Muslims of Spain during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who had to hide their identities for their safekeeping.

During her visit, Emilie Picherot will launch the new project, presenting it and discussing the importance of this particular manuscript for research into Franco-Arabo-Muslim relations.