Book lists from the Cairo Genizah: A window on the production of texts in the middle ages

Miriam Frenkel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The historicity of books -Their role as a force in history - has been addressed in post-war literary studies from different perspectives and across various disciplines. Nevertheless, the scholarship on the history of the book in medieval Islam is still relatively sparse, even though this society underwent a thorough process of textualization. But even authors who do consider the social and cultural role of books in medieval Islam look only at the production and consumption of Arabic books within the boundaries of Muslim society, relying on Islamic sources which reflect mainly the courtly milieu of scribes and secretariats. None discuss books produced and consumed by the religious minorities that were an indispensable part of this society, and none have made use of the abundant Genizah documents as source material. In the present programmatic article, I call attention to the many book lists found in the Cairo Genizah and to their potential as significant tools for developing a better understanding of the cultural and social history of the medieval Islamicate world.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
JournalBulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©SOAS, University of London, 2017.


  • Books
  • Genizah
  • Islamicate world
  • Libraries
  • Literacy
  • Medieval jewish history


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