The University of Hyderabad (UoH) in association with Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, New Delhi organised a Distinguished Leibniz Lecture on Three Copyists and a Rat: Anonymous Redaction in Manuscripts of Kalīla wa-Dimna” by Professor Dr. Beatrice Gründler, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize Holder and Chair of Arabic Language and Literature, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany on February 15, 2018 at the School of Humanities Auditorium, UoH.


Professor Beatrice Gruendler, eminent Arabic scholar at the Freie Universitat, Berlin, and winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2017, delivered the Leibniz talk at the University of Hyderabad today, titled “Three Copyists and a Rat: Anonymous Reductions in Manuscripts of Kalila wa-Dimna.” It was hosted by the University in association with the German Research Foundation – DFG.


The talk was preceded by an informal discussion in the morning with Prof. Gruendler at the Office of International Affairs, organised and facilitated by Prof. Aloka-Parasher-Sen. Present were scholars from a variety of disciplines, including Arabic, History, Political Science, Theatre Arts, Linguistics and Sanskrit, each with different interests in the Kalila wa-Dimna and its original source, the Panchatantra and the Mahabharata. The conversation ranged widely across languages and approaches, written and oral cultures, and the cultural encounters that make such translations and travelling of texts possible.


At the Leibniz talk in the afternoon on “Three Copyists and a Rat: Anonymous Reductions in Manuscripts of Kalila wa-Dimna”, Prof. Gruendler described her research into the transmission of the Arabic Kalila wa-Dimna over time and across space. Her lecture depicted the world of pre-industrial Arabic book-culture, where anonymous copyists painstakingly re-wrote classic works for patrons, nevertheless leaving their individual marks upon it. Prof Gruendler explained her methodology for comparing the same stories in different manuscripts, and how each iteration by these uncredited “silent authors” could be seen to subtly emphasize different aspects of the narrative – ethical, political, emotional, and so on. Her work shed light on what she termed the “human imprints” on the story, changes both minute and major that accrued over time, enriching the text and keeping it alive across centuries.


The talk was followed by a lively question-and-answer session that saw Prof. Gruendler touch further upon about the digital processes used as part of her textual analysis, and its implication for humanities research in the future.


Prof. Beatrice Gruendler was accompanied by Dr. Stefan Diederich, the India representative of the Freie Universitat, Berlin and Ms. Urmila Gupta from the DFG. Ms. Gupta also addressed the gathering about the opportunities that the German Research Foundation offers to scholars cutting across disciplines for research activities in collaboration with German Universities.

Prof. Appa Rao Podile, Vice-Chancellor presided over the lecture which was attended by the faculty, students and staff.

By Shalini Srinivasan
Department of English