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“This is What I Have on My Bookshelf”: Jewish Autobiography and Descriptive Bibliography in the Islamic West
The 28th Richard and Mary Rouse History of the Book Lecture
This year’s History of the Book Lecture by Professor S.J. Pearce (NYU, Art & Science) explores the relationship between descriptive bibliography — writing in a detailed way about the contents of a library — and autobiography in the writing lives of medieval Jews and converts from Judaism in the Islamic west, that is, Spain and North Africa. It will look at autobiographical writings in which detailed library catalogues are included and documents created as personal and institutional library catalogues that nonetheless managed to betray the autobiography of the cataloger. By considering the points of contact between these two forms of writing, this lecture will illustrate new ways to think about the integral role of the book-as-object in the religious and cultural lives of the Jews of the western Mediterranean.