Islamic Studies Dissertation Reviews


We are proud to announce “Islamic Studies Dissertation Reviews,” one of our new series to launch during the 2012-13 season (set to go live in January). If you are interested in reviewing for the new series, or having your dissertation reviewed, please contact


Introducing Our New Field Editor

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: The Kaaba at al-Haram Mosque during the start of Hajj, Wikimedia Commons.

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