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Saints, Stories, and Sanctity between Christianity and Islam

Reyhan Durmaz, Brown University, Junior Fellow 2018–2019

My dissertation analyzes encounter and exchange between Christi­anity and Islam in the early Middle Ages through the lens of saints’ stories. I study the mechanisms through which certain nonbiblical Christian saints were transmitted into Islam, and the functions they fulfilled in Islamic literature and broader semiotic systems. I use a broad array of Greek, Syriac, and Arabic sources to develop a nuanced understanding of cultural transmission between Christianity and Islam. During my time at Dumbarton Oaks I completed my dissertation, integrating additional primary sources into my analysis and writing a final theoretical chapter on the notion of transmission and its broader implications in interreligious interactions. The immensely rich Dumbarton Oaks library provided me with both the classical and the most recent scholarship in late antique, Syriac, and early Islamic studies. The abundant primary and secondary sources, and the community with which I constantly exchanged ideas, strengthened my dissertation, which received the Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award from Brown University. I also completed an article on the oral aspects of Christian late antique hagiography and drafted another article on medieval Syriac hagiography.