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Reviews of Islamic Art and Literature

“Collaboratively compiled and deftly edited by the team of Islamic art history expert Oleg Grabar (Harvard University and the Institute for Advanced Study), and Cynthia Robinson (Cornell University and who specializes in the visual and literary cultures of the medieval Iberian peninsula), “Islamic Art and Arabic Literature: Textuality and Visuality in the Islamic World” breaks new ground in the field of Middle Eastern art history. While illuminated manuscripts from Persia and the Arab world are outstanding masterpieces of art, only recent scholarship in Islamic visual culture includes written sources in its consideration of the relationships between the textual and visual worlds. Likewise, scholars of Arabic and Persian literature have become aware of the comparative and interpretive possibilities contained within visual sources. Nevertheless, separation between the two fields of inquiry remains prevalent. Comprised of six essays (three by art historians and three by specialists in Arabic and Persian literature) “Islamic Art and Arabic Literature” deftly examine specific instances in which texts and images which would seem to have been intended as one cultural product have traditionally been studied separately. Each individual essay reunites visual and written or oral products in order to evaluate the mechanisms through which written (or spoke) texts and the images produced in conjunction with them operate in precise contexts. Beautifully illustrated, exceptionally informative, thoroughly ‘reader friendly’ in organization and presented, “Islamic Art and Arabic Literature” is an extraordinary body of scholarship and will prove to be a valued and appreciated addition to the personal reading lists of both academicians and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, as well as both community and academic library Islamic Culture collections and supplemental studies lists.”– Midwest Book Review