Matthew Melvin-Koushki: New Managing Editor


With only a few weeks remaining in Season 3 of Dissertation Reviews, it is my great pleasure to share exciting and important news with the DR community.

Matthew Melvin-Koushki, our Field Editor in Islamic Studies, has been named our new Managing Editor here at Dissertation Reviews. He will be working with the entire editorial committee, as well as authors and reviewers, to help build upon the stellar quality and growth of Dissertation Reviews over the past three years. We are delighted to begin this new working relationship with Matthew, and extend our heartfelt congratulations.

Leon Rocha will be moving into his new role as Senior Managing Editor, a title that truly deserves the suffix “Extraordinaire,” given his tireless and brilliant stewardship.

To learn more about the entire Dissertation Reviews Editorial Committee, please visit this page.

– Tom Mullaney, Editor-in-Chief


Here is a note from Matt:

I first got wind of Dissertation Reviews in the summer of 2012, when David Luesink and then Leon Rocha approached me about developing an Islamic Studies section; I looked into it and was immediately hooked. I joined the DR team at an exciting time of expansion – we’re now at twenty-one fields and counting. The Islamic Studies field was officially launched in January of this year and has acquired considerable momentum, particularly with the recent launch of Iran Studies, with each review garnering a thousand hits in short order. This synergy will dramatically increase with the upcoming launch of new, related fields, such as Ottoman and Turkish Studies and Central Asian Studies.

The effectiveness of DR in drawing attention to the work of early-career scholars is extraordinary and unprecedented, and an unqualified boon at a time when entering the academic job market involves special difficulties. More broadly, by connecting scholars around the world and fostering unexpected collaborations, it has the potential to change the way academics do business. The challenges our profession faces in these times of administrative bloat, economic contraction, disciplinary balkanization, and culture war make the maintenance of collegiality an all-important duty – hence DR’s commitment to friendliness and solidarity.

For these reasons I was honored and gratified by Tom and Leon’s invitation to ramp up my involvement with Dissertation Reviews as a new Managing Editor. We’re gearing up for an even more robust fourth season that will see the continuation of all the new fields launched this year and the addition of several more. And to all those who’ve been thinking about coming onboard or submitting a field proposal, now’s the time – the sky’s really the limit!


Matthew Melvin-Koushki
Assistant Professor
Department of History
University of South Carolina
(On leave 2013-2014)

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Near Eastern Studies
Princeton University


Matthew Melvin-Koushki recently completed a joint appointment as Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Faculty of Oriental Studies and Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, and will be joining the Near Eastern Studies department at Princeton University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate before taking up a tenure-track position in history at the University of South Carolina. His dissertation, “The Quest for a Universal Science: The Occult Philosophy of Ṣā’in al-Dīn Turka Iṣfahānī (1369-1432) and Intellectual Millenarianism in Early Timurid Iran” (Yale 2012), won the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm H. Kerr award for best dissertation in the humanities. This study demonstrates the integrality of occult modes of knowledge to late medieval and early modern millenarian-universalist projects, whether in the Islamicate heartlands or Renaissance Europe. As a case in point, it focuses on the mainstreaming of lettrist or kabbalistic thought in intellectual circles in 15th-century Iran. Matthew’s current research expands on this theme to explore the theory and practice of the so-called ‘occult sciences’ in the context of both history of science and history of philosophy in the Islamicate world, and particularly their frequent interpenetration with ‘legitimate’ sciences such as astronomy or medicine through the early modern period. His most recent article, “Occultism and Universalism in Early Modern Islamicate Intellectual History,” is due to appear in al-‘Usur al-Wusta in April 2013. [Website here]


Image: “Sa’di and the Youth of Kashghar,” from Sa’di, Gulistan (Bukhara, 1547). Wikimedia Commons.

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