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‘By the Pen and What They Write’, Writing in Islamic Art and Culture

November 7, 2015 - November 9, 2015

VCU By the Pen What They Write Islamic Art

Twelve of the world’s leading Islamic art experts come to Doha to discuss and explore some of the broad topics of visual arts in the Islamic world. The sixth edition will see experts talk on topics around the subject of writing in Islamic art, with the title of the series being – “By the Pen and What They Write: Writing in Islamic Art and Culture”.

The Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art chaired by Dr. Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, is a leading international conference on Islamic art and culture, co-sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCUarts), Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar), Qatar Foundation (QF) and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU). In keeping with HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani’s desire to make Qatar a leader in providing world class education, the Symposium on Islamic Art is under his patronage since its establishment 10 years ago.

During the Symposium experts will also discuss the rapid adoption of the concept of writing as a means to authenticate messages, the notions of traditional and modern calligraphy as well as the development of Arabic typography – from the earliest Arabic script found on rocks in the desert prior to Islam, all the way to the importance of paper when spreading the word of the Qur’an.

Day 1

Date: Saturday, 7 November
Time: 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Al Rayyan Theater, Souq Waqif

Day 2

Date: Sunday, 8 November
Time: 9 am – 4 pm
Venue: Auditorium of Museum of Islamic Art

Day 3

Date: Monday, 9 November
Time: 9 am – 4:45 pm
Venue: Auditorium of Museum of Islamic Art

Speakers and topics:

  • Sheila Blair – “Writing as a Signifier of Islam”
  • Jonathan Bloom – “How Paper Changed Islamic Literary and Visual Culture”
  • Robert Hoyland – “The Birth of Arabic Writing in Stone”
  • Angelika Neuwirth – “Scripture, Revelation, and Writing: The Qur’an’s Epistemic Recast of Arabian Late Antiquity”
  • Hugh Kennedy – “Baghdad as a Center of Learning and Book Production”
  • Dana Sjdi – “Chained: Orality, Authority, and History”
  • Ludvik Kalus – “The Spread of Islamic Inscriptions in East and Southeast Asia”
  • Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares – “Arabic Typography and the Shaping
  • Kristine Rose Beers – “Reading with Conservators: The Language of Book Archaeology”
  • Massumeh Farhad – “Reading between the Lines: Text and Image in Sixteenth-Century Iran”
  • Heba Nayel Barakat – “The Triumph of the Word: Contemporary Islamic Calligraphy Collections at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia”
  • Nasser Al Salem – “Calligraphy Presentation”

Online registration via  will be open until 7 November 2015. Walk-in registration for all Symposium events will be conducted on a first-come basis according to available space. 

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