Participant Bios

Alex Brey is a graduate student in the History of Art department of Bryn Mawr College, focusing on late antique and early medieval palatial architecture in Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic world. His M.A. thesis focused on the triconch audience hall of Mushatta, a late Umayyad palace, and its connections to domestic and religious architecture in the eastern Mediterranean. He has worked on several excavations including a Viking settlement in Scotland, a Roman fort in Jordan, and most recently the Medieval mosque in Tiberias, Israel. Other interests include economic and artistic exchange in the Indian Ocean, medieval and modern conceptions of the past, reuse and spoliation, and the possibilities presented by New Media for the exploration of Old Media.

Guy Burak  is the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Librarian at Bobst Library, New York University. Before coming to NYU, Burak was a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the rise of the state madhhab in the Ottoman Empire. His articles appeared in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Mediterranean Historical Review (June 2013) and Comparative Studies in History and Society (July 2013)

Kirill Dmitriev is a Lecturer at the University of St. Andrews. His research focuses on the study of the cultural history of Late Antiquity, early and classical Arabic language and literature, the Arabic philological tradition and Arabic lexicography. His current book-length project focuses on the study of early Arabic poetry, in particular the poetical school of al-Hira, in the context of late antique cultural history.

Till Grallert is a graduate student at Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS), Freie Universität Berlin and a research fellow at  Orient Institut Beirut. He works on a project under the title “To whom belong the streets? Property, propriety, and appropriation: The production of public space in late Ottoman Damascus, 1875-1914”. His interest in digital humanities resulted in the recent online publication of a chronology of nineteenth century Arabic periodicals. He occasionally blogs at

Sebastian Günther is Professor and Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Göttingen. He is the co-editor of the Islamic History and Civilization series (Brill Academic Publishers) and a board member of the Religion Compass (Blackwell Publishing) and his research focuses on the intellectual heritage of Islam, in particular the Quran, religious and philosophical thought, and Arabic belles-lettres.

Will Hanley is Assistant Professor of History at Florida State University. He spent the 2012-2013 academic year in Berlin as a fellow of the Rechtskulturen project of the Berlin Research Network Recht im Kontext (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

David Hollenberg is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Oregon. He is the founder of the Yemen Manuscripts Digitization Initiative. YMDI is devoted to preserving the manuscripts of Yemen, the largest number of unexplored Arabic manuscripts in the world. This collection is threatened by the uncertain social and political conditions in Yemen. Under his direction,YMDI recently received a $330,000 National Endowment for the Humanitites/Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grant on behalf of Princeton University Library and Free University, Berlin, to digitize and disseminate 267 codices in private libraries in Yemen and from the collections at Princeton University Library and the Staadtsbibliothek, Berlin

Peter McMurray is a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Harvard University.

Elias Muhanna is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Middle East Studies at Brown University, where he teaches courses on classical Arabic literature and intellectual history. His current research focuses on encyclopedic literature in the pre-modern Islamic world. He is the organizer of the Digital Islamic Humanities Project and its October 2013 conference at Brown.

Afsaneh Najmabadi is the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Her last book, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), received the 2005 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize from the American Historical Association. She has recently completed Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke University Press, forthcoming 2013). She leads a digital archive and website on Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran, which has been supported and featured by the NEH.

Meredith Quinn is a graduate student at Harvard’s History Department, where she is advised by Cemal Kafadar.  She is writing a dissertation titled “Books and their Readers in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul.”  Her research analyzes book circulation with the aim of writing a social history of ideas for the Ottoman capital. Prior to graduate school, Meredith worked at ITHAKA, where she helped digital humanities projects to identify users’ needs and to plan for financial sustainability.

Dagmar Riedel is the Associate Editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica and an Associate Research Scholar at the Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University. She studied Islamic history and medieval Arabic and Persian literatures at the Universität Hamburg and Indiana University.  Her dissertation on Persian and Arabic encyclopedias received the 2005 dissertation prize of the Foundation of Iranian Studies.  She has been a fellow at the Arabic manuscript project of the Chester Beatty Library Dublin, and Burke Library scholar-in-residence at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and has taught at Indiana University and Universität Hamburg.

Maxim Romanov is a doctoral candidate in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan.

Dwight Reynolds is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara. He is the author of several books and articles on Arabic literature, autobiography, performance studies, oral and musical traditions of the Middle East, and ethnographic fieldwork methodologies. He is also the founder of the Sirat Bani Hilal Digital Archive.

Chip Rossetti is a doctoral student in Arabic literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked as an acquiring editor at a number of publishers, including Little, Brown, Basic, and the American University in Cairo Press, and is now the managing editor for the Library of Arabic Literature translation series at NYU Press.

Nadia Yaqub is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her research has treated Arab cultural texts ranging from oral poetry to modern prose fiction and contemporary visual culture.

Travis Zadeh is Associate Professor of Religion at Haverford College. His research focuses on the role of translation in the formative stages of Islamic intellectual and cultural history, particularly in the areas of geographical writings on the wonders of the world and scriptural hermeneutics concerning the transcendental nature of the Qur’ān.