Hartman Hotz Speaker to Trace History of Islamic Political Vocabulary

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. Fred Donner, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq and a leading scholar on the history of early Islam, will discuss “The Development of Early Islamic Political Vocabulary” at 4 p.m. Monday, April 27, in Giffels Auditorium, Old Main, as part of the Hartman Hotz Lecture Series in Law and the Liberal Arts. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Donner, professor of Near Eastern history at the University of Chicago, is a leading scholar in the history of early Islam and a specialist in the origins of Islam, tribal and nomadic society, and Islamic law. He has written several notable books, including The Early Islamic Conquests, in which he examines the role of Arabian pastoral nomadic groups in the seventh-century Islamic conquest movement in Iraq, a time when tribes were integrated into a single new Islamist state.

After closely studying the sources for this early period of Islamic history and coming to doubt their reliability, Donner began a long-term examination that culminated in his book Narratives of Islamic Origins: the Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing.

He is the editor of Al-Usur al-Wusta, the Bulletin of Middle East Medievalists and is currently working on a study of the militarism of early Islam. He is the author of numerous articles, encyclopedia entries and book reviews on topics such as the formation of the Islamic state and Islamic conceptions of war.

After earning his doctorate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, Donner went on to study at the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Shimlan in Lebanon, and the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Erlangen, Germany.

More recently, Donner's interests have shifted to the intellectual or ideological factors that were at play in the early expansion of Islam, particularly the significance of militant piety, possibly rooted in an apocalyptic outlook. He is currently at work on a general study of Islamic origins that will attempt to sketch the outlines of this historical process.

In his teaching at the University of Chicago, he focuses on early Islamic history, Islamic social history and aspects of Islamic law. He has also written position statements such as “The Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the War in Iraq” that can be found at http://humanities.uchicago.edu/depts/nelc/facultypages/donner/

The University of Arkansas Hartman Hotz Lectures in Law and Liberal Arts were established by Dr. and Mrs. Palmer Hotz of Foster City, Calif., to honor the memory of his brother, Hartman Hotz. Hartman Hotz was a graduate in history from the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. After graduating from Yale University Law School, he joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas School of Law, where he made significant contributions to the study of law.

Many distinguished speakers have participated in this lecture series, among them Chief Justice Warren Burger, G. Edward White, Shirley Abbott, Daisy Bates, Thomas Grisso, George Fletcher and George McGovern.

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