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Medieval Ascension Narratives in Islamic and European Traditions

A one-day workshop on medieval ascension narratives. 27 March 2017 at the David Collection, Copenhagen.


An Interdisciplinary Workshop with Christiane Gruber (University of Michigan)

Organized by the Centre for Medieval Literature and the David Collection

Copenhagen, David Collection, 27 March 2017 

A one-day workshop on medieval ascension narratives, from al-Sarai’s Nahj al-Faradis to the Liber Scale Machometi and Dante’s Commedia, will be held at the David Collection, Kronprinsessegade 30, Copenhagen, on Monday 27 March 2017. It will be followed by a public lecture on Tuesday 28 March 2017 by Prof. Christiane Gruber (University of Michigan), who has written widely on Islamic book arts, ascension images and narratives, and depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. This workshop—conducted by Prof. Gruber and an interdisciplinary team of art and literary historians from the Centre for Medieval Literature and the David Collection—will allow for a sustained analysis of the changing values conferred upon ascension texts and images in cross-cultural contexts. We will focus on their circulation in Islamic lands and Europe, since the notion of rising into the heavens was imagined in prose, verse, manuscript paintings, and wall frescoes from Ilkhanid Persia to Medieval Castile and Renaissance Italy.

Ascension narratives served as a powerful tool for expressing and exploring theological, philosophical, spiritual, and soteriological concerns in literature and art, within both Christian and Muslim traditions. For these reasons, this workshop seeks to open new avenues and approaches, asking, in particular, how can we conceptualize narratives that travel and are adapted, reformed, and reimagined across various temporal and geographical domains. Additionally, how can we explore questions of world (or trans- imperial) literature through medieval ascension narratives? Is this possible through a sustained engagement with both text and image, positioning the artistic with the literary and vice versa?
Scholars from Denmark and abroad will have the unprecedented opportunity to examine some of the extraordinary manuscripts and precious objects preserved in the David Collection during a private visit led by the museum’s curators and Prof. Gruber.

The workshop is sponsored by the Centre for Medieval Literature in cooperation with the David Collection. Participation is free, and places available are limited to 15 in number. Participants will have to bear costs for travel and accommodation themselves.

Postgraduate students and early career scholars willing to become more familiar with questions of cross-cultural engagement, text and image issues, and medieval narratives are particularly encouraged to apply regardless of their disciplinary expertise. Please send motivation letters (max. 1000 words) explaining your research interests and reasons for applying, along with a brief CV, to either Shazia Jagot ( or Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto ( by Saturday 10 December 2016. Applicants will be notified of the decision by Monday, 18 December 2016. 

Editing was completed: 27.03.2017