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This volume explores and calls into question certain commonly held assumptions about writing and technological advancement in the Islamic tradition. In particular, it challenges the idea that mechanical print naturally and inevitably displaces handwritten texts as well as the notion that the so-called transition from manuscript to print is unidirectional. Indeed, rather than distinct technologies that emerge in a progressive series (one naturally following the other), they frequently co-exist in complex and complementary relationships – relationships we are only now starting to recognize and explore.The book brings together essays by internationally recognized scholars from an array of disciplines (including philology, linguistics, religious studies, history, anthropology, and typography) whose work focuses on the written word – channeled through various media – as a social and cultural phenomenon within the Islamic tradition. These essays promote systematic approaches to the study of Islamic writing cultures writ large, in an effort to further our understanding of the social, cultural and intellectual relationships between manuscripts, printed texts and the people who use and create them.
Scott Reese, Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany and Northern Arizona University, USA.
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