Marianna Shreve Simpson

M-85. Introduction to Islamic Manuscripts

Baltimore: 14-18 August 2006


1)   How useful were the pre-course readings?

2: Very helpful. 3: Exceedingly useful. I had a minimum of prior knowledge on the subject, and the readings provided a great foundation.


2)   Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: The course materials are very useful, and I will be using them later on for reference. 2: Yes, especially the additional bibliography. 3: Yes. The bibliography will definitely be of future use.


3)   What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: The most helpful part of the course was viewing the wide array of manuscripts. Intellectual level: 7/10. 2: This helped me a lot in filling in a lot of gaps in my knowledge on the subject. In particular, for me, very useful information on the Quran. But there was so much more that I cannot list it all here. Yes -- intellectual level appropriate. 3: Very intellectually stimulating. All aspects covered were invaluable.


4)   Was time devoted to studying original materials at WAM well spent?

1: Studying original materials and having discussions was time well spent. 2: Yes! 3: Absolutely. There is no better way to learn than with primary, first-hand exposure to these materials.


5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: The layout of the course was good. The location of the course was perfect. the teaching and discussions made by the course instructor were very good. 2: Looking at manuscripts all day long was wonderful! Instructor was very interesting and animated. The field trips to the Freer Gallery and Evergreen House (JHU) were also terrific. What an amazing opportunity and privilege to see these beautiful manuscripts! 3: 1. the use of not only the WAM collection, but those of the Freer and JHU as well. 2. The instructor herself. Not only an expert approach, but open to comments and suggestions.


6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: The course can be improved by introducing and discussing Islamic history, providing a brief overview in the course. Also discussing textiles, ceramics, architecture briefly would help in presenting Islamic manuscripts in a better light and would complement points being made. 2: Might be interesting to have a native speaker recite parts of the Quran in Arabic and/or recite Persian poetry from the medieval texts we studied, so we could hear the cadences and be further impressed by the oral traditions that were so important to these cultures. Also: more photocopies of MSS in packet would be useful for future classes to help remember what was seen. 3: If being able to handle the materials is an option, then that is the only way. Otherwise, I have no suggestions.


7)   We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa’s Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

1: Handling of materials was 10/10. 3: N/A.


8)   If you attended the Sunday and/or Monday night lectures, were they worth attending?

1: Yes. Monday night’s lecture - 9.5/10. 2: Yes. Lecture was good but it’s also a nice opportunity to meet other participants. 3: Yes. The former to have a chance to meet classmates/instructors prior to the course opening session. The latter for exposure to a fascinating and still evolving topic.

9) If you attended evening activities, was the time profitably spent?

1: These tours were great. 2: Yes! Excellent “show and tell” sessions and very interesting. 3: Yes, since this was my first visit to both institutions.


10) Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?

1: Certainly it was money well spent. I think having some Western and Eastern manuscripts to show their difference/likeness with Islamic manuscripts would be helpful. 2: Definitely got my money’s worth! It was Book Camp Paradise! If there is ever a “Islamic MSS II,” sign me up! 3: Absolutely. Will most definitely take more RBS courses if offered the chance.

Number of respondents: 3


Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel

67%                            100%                          100%                          67%

I took vaca-                I paid tui-                  I paid for my              I paid my own

tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel

33%                            0%                              0%                              33%

There were two rare book librarians in the course and one collector.