Samstag, 15. April 2017

York and Manchester: A report of a perfect March

A weblog entry by Shahrzad Irannejad.

The March of 2017 was the perfect month for me. I went to the charming city of York in the UK to present a paper, and met amazing scholars whose feedback on my paper was very helpful; I went to Manchester for a very fruitful research visit to the department of Prof. Peter Pormann, my mentor; I got to play a tourist in London, and the perfect month ended with a visit to my family in London to celebrate the Persian new year, Nowruz
Fig 1. Where I learned that Constantine (c. 272–337) AD was proclaimed emperor in York (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

The as-if-tailored-for-me conference "The Medieval Brain" was a very fruitful, cozy and friendly conference with nine sessions and two key note speeches, held on the 9th, 10th, and 11th of March 2017 in The Treehouse, Humanities Research Centre, University of York. It was supported by Welcome Trust and brought together scholars in various discipline such as art history, linguistics, computational linguistics, philology, medieval studies, medical history, psychology and psychiatry. 
Fig 2. The organizer of the conference, Deborah Thorpe in the left, moderating the Q and A after the keynote speech by Corinne Saunders on the right (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

 I presented my paper ‘The Brain in Avicenna's Canon of Medicine’ in the second panel "Grey Matters: Structuring the Brain", alongside Prof. Salmon (University of Cantabria): 'A complexional brain: Medical approaches to brain structure and functioning in the 13th and 14th centuries' and Cher Casey (University of York): 'Making Matter of the Mind: reconstructing the medieval cranial anatomy of Cologne’s 11,000 Holy Virgin skull relics'. I hope that the discussions following the panel would continue well into the future. You might want to take a look at afterthoughts of the organizer of the conference, Deborah Thorpe here. And I am NOT necessarily sharing this link because she has published a picture of me while presenting my paper. 
Fig 3. For one week, I would come to the Samuel Alexander building to read, write, and discuss my work with Prof. Pormann’s team (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

Fig 4. I received a library card for a week to use the library of Manchester University, very convenient (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

I left a piece of my heart in York and moved on to Manchester for my first research stay at the department of my mentor, Prof. Peter Pormann. I had the luck to present my findings on Avicenna’s brain anatomy in a paper entitled "The Brain Ventricles and the Rete Mirabile from Galen to Avicenna" on the last meeting of the Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms project (16 March 2017). Prof. Pormann visited us in Mainz back in May 2016 and shared with us insights about the project in a plenary meeting. On the Arabic Aphorisms days in Manchester, all team members gather together to present their works in progress, discuss and receive feedback. I also met Prof. Glen Cooper and Dr. Grigory Kessel during my stay in Manchester and received comments on my work. I used the rest of the days reading, writing and receiving guidance and comments about my work, not only from Prof. Pormann, but also from his amazing team members: Dr. Kamran Karimullah, Dr. Hammood Obaid, and Dr. Elaine van Dalen. 

Fig 5. A promising conference in December 2017: “Genealogies of Knowledge I: Translating Political and Scientific Thought across Time and Space” (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

I arrived in Manchester, as the previous project was being wrapped up, and a new project was being started: Genealogies of Knowledge: The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts across Time and Space. This project is based at the University of Manchester and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It brings together senior scholars from Translation Studies, Graeco-Arabic Studies, Digital Media and Communication, and Computer Science. This project focuses on two constellations of concepts: 1) the historical evolution and transformation through translation of the two constellations of concepts, focusing on seminal moments of change in the reception and reproduction of translated texts and their meanings by subsequent readerships. This involves examining commentaries and (re)translations from/into Greek, early Latin, medieval Arabic and modern English; 2) the ways and means by which civil society actors involved in radical democratic groups and counter-hegemonic globalisation movements contest and redefine the meaning of such cultural concepts today, as part of an evolving radical-democratic project. This promising project involves building large, diverse electronic corpora of Greek, Latin, Arabic and English. I would be presenting a paper entitled “Translation, Transmission, Transformation: Diachronic Development of Brain Anatomy in Greco-Arabic Medicine” at the first conference of this project "Genealogies of Knowledge I: Translating Political and Scientific Thought across Time and Space" in December 2017. 

At the end of my trip, and before joining my family, I made perfect use of my time in London and visited the Welcome Trust collection and the last house of Sigmund Freud. I am not sure if the pictures can convey a slight bit of my excitement. I share them with you, nonetheless.

Fig 6. Playing tourist in London: probably the most famous couch in the world (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

Fig 7.  Playing tourist in London: the amazing votive collection at Welcome Trust (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

Fig 8.  Playing tourist in London: a fascinating 18th century anatomical model in the Welcome Trust collection (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).
Fig 9. Playing tourist in London: my friend “accidentally” sitting right under Avicenna’s name at the Welcome Trust Library (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad). 

Fig 10. Playing tourist in London: excuses to come back (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).