New exhibition: Creative Dissent, 1-26 Feb. 2016


February 1 – February 26, 2016

School of Architecture

Exhibition Room

McGill University
Macdonald-Harrington Building
815 Sherbrooke Street West

Opening Reception:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 5 pm – 6 pm


Christiane Gruber, Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Visual Culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Nama Khalil. Artist and cultural anthropologist, Ph.D. Candidate,  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The exhibit is a collaboration between the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Arab American National Museum, Dearborn. Support for the McGill University, School of Architecture installation is provided by the Yan P. Lin Centre’s Research Group on Democracy, Space, and Technology, the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill Libraries, and Gilgamesh Society.

Susan Sheikh and the Calligraphy Workshop: Pictures

Hi friends, on Wednesday the 28th day of July 2015 the ISL hosted a workshop led by Persian calligrapher, Susan Sheikh. 20 participants were fortunate to attend this workshop which was divided into 3 sections.

Susan_calligraphySusan led a short lecture on the history of calligraphy from it’s beginning through to the present. This was followed by a hands-on experience in which the participants were guided through the basic steps of writing nastaʿlīq and shikaste.Susan_calligraphy2 Finally, a question and answer period in which participants were free to ask any and all questions.

If you’re interested in learning more about calligraphy and, especially seeing some examples McGill has many exquisite calligraphic panels, manuscripts and related materials. Further information is provided on the Islamic Manuscripts subject guide.

Many thanks to everyone for attending and a special thanks to Susan Sheikh.

Photos courtesy of Sean E. Swanick, 2015.

Workshop with Sussan Sheikh

On Wednesday, 29th of July 2015 the Islamic Studies Library will host a workshop with Sussan Sheikh.

Calligraphy- Sussan Sheikh_ISL_2015“Susan Sheikh was born in the city of Hamedan, Iran in 1961. She started practicing Iranian calligraphy in 1982 under Iranian calligraphy masters Abdollah Foradi and Yadollah Kaboli. In 1988, Ms. Sheikh obtained the rank of “excellent calligrapher” from the Iran’s Association of Calligraphers and started her career as an art instructor. In years, she has trained several calligraphy apprentices who are in turn disseminating this revered form of Iranian art throughout the country. Ms. Sheikh has participated in more than twenty solo and group exhibitions and her artworks have been published in multiple calligraphy collections. She received an honorary excellence art award in 2007.”

The workshop is free and open to the public. If you are interested in joining us, please contact me (sean.swanick [at] mcgill . ca) to reserve a spot for space is limited.


Tri-Agencies Open Access Policies

In recent news, the Canadian Tri-Agencies granting programs have introduced a new policy for researchers: Open Access. What does this mean for you? McGill Library has created a FAQ section to help with the details of the implementation and meaning of this change in policy. The policy, it should be noted is effective 15 May 2015. Below is the official announcement.

“On February 27, 2015, Canada’s three major research funding agencies – the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – announced a new harmonized “Open Access Policy on Publications” that requires research publications supported by public funds to be made openly available for the benefit of the community at large.”

The policy requires that “any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication.” It applies to NSERC and SSHRC grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onward, and continues the pre-existing open access requirement for CIHR grants awarded January 1, 2008 and later. Researchers holding grants awarded before May 1, 2015 are also encouraged to follow the policy. NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR grant recipients must ensure that any peer-reviewed journal articles be freely accessible within 12 months of publication through one of the following options:

  1. Online Repositories: Grant recipients can deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an institutional or disciplinary repository that will make the manuscript freely accessible within 12 months of publication.
  2. Open Access (OA) Journals: Grant recipients can publish in an open access journal. For journals that use Article Processing Charges (APCs) as a means to fund open access, these APCs are allowable expenses for Tri-Agency grants.

Through services and resources like the eScholarship@McGill repository and research consultations, McGill Library & Archives will continue to support researchers as the open access movement evolves. For more information regarding the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy, compliance information, and how the Library & Archives can help to make your work open access please visit:

On McGill Library’s Open Access page. there is an array of further information for quick answers. Perhaps the most burning question for this new policy is: How to comply with the OA policy? In the section from the above link entitled “How to make your research open access” one particular paragraph will prove extremely useful:

“Standard publishing agreements for many journals already allow repository deposit of the publisher’s PDF or of the final manuscript after peer review. However, not all do. Carefully review your publishing agreement or learn about a given publisher’s standard policies in the SHERPA/RoMEO database to determine what rights you are signing over to the publisher and how these affect your ability to deposit your work in a repository. If you would like to deposit your published work in a disciplinary or institutional repository, and the standard agreement from your preferred publisher does not allow this, you can negotiate the details of your publishing agreement.”

For the fields of Islamic and Middle East Studies there are many different OA journals already available whose publishing agreements comply with this new Tri-agencies policy. One source, in particular for OA journals pertaining to Islamic and Middle East Studies is AMIR (Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources). It provides a complete list of all Open Access journals pertaining to these fields of inquiry.

Remember also to be aware of predatory OA journals. These journals can be quite convincing and aggressive in striving to obtain your manuscript. If you have any doubt, Jeffrey Beall of the University of Colorado maintains an impressive blog on known predatory journals. On the same blog, he also lists questionable publishers.

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

New e-resource: Oxford language dictionaries online. Arabic : Arabic-English.

The ISL has acquired the Oxford language dictionaries online. Arabic : Arabic-English. This dictionary, akin to an online version of the great Hans Wehr dictionary of modern Arabic has a total of 330, 000 words and more than 70, 000 examples of sentences.

A comprehensive dictionary that also offers grammar tips, it will surely be of great benefit to learners of Arabic.

The Oxford English-Arabic dictionary is accessible here as well as via the Islamic Studies and Middle East Studies Subject Guide.


Film screening: the Dupes (1972)

The Islamic Studies Library will hold its last film screening of the academic year on Friday April 10th, 2015 at 5 p.m. in the Tuesday Night Cafe (Morrice Hall, room 017).

the_dupesThe Dupes is a stark, beautifully photographed black and white film tracing the destinies of three palestinian refugees brought together by dispossession, despair and hope for a better future.

The setting is Iraq in the 1950s and the protagonists,concealed in the steel tank of a truck, are trying to make their way across the border into Kuwait, the “promised land.”

The Dupes is considered a masterful adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s acclaimed novella, Men Under the Sun, The Dupes is also one of the first Arab films to address the Palestinian predicament.

Professor Malek Abisaab, McGill History Department and Institute of Islamic Studies, will moderate the post screening discussion.

Come on come all!

Database trial: ATLA Historical Monographs Collection

The American Theological Library Association Historical Monographs Collection gives acces to no less than 29.000 titles focusing on religion, dating mostly from 1850 to 1922.

ATLA Monographs  Featured Archives  Digital Archives  EBSCOhost(1)To give you a chance to try this new resource, the Islamic Studies Library setup a trial running from March 9th to April 9th 2015. The collection is available in two comprehensive series:

Check them out, and let us know what you think!


In the news: Perso-Indica

Perso-Indica is a research and publishing project that will produce a comprehensive Analytical Survey of Persian Works on Indian Learned Traditions, encompassing the treatises and translations produced in India between the 13th and the 19th century.”

9/03/2015 – Research
McGill University Library

Indo-Persian Manuscripts at McGill University Library

Following the request of Perso-Indica at the Library of McGill University in Montreal, the Library has decided to digitize a selection of rare Persian manuscripts dealing with Indic cultures. These manuscripts were chiefly produced in South Asia during the 18th and the 19th centuries. They are kept in the Blacker-Wood Collection and the Osler Library of McGill University in Montreal.
They have been digitized thanks to the contribution of the Institute of Islamic Studies and the Islamic Studies Library of McGill University. The following manuscripts are now available on line:
-Ṭilism-i i‘jaz, a work on amulets translated by Kishan Singh, Ms. BWL 129, copied in 1804.Available at:

– Tarjama-yi Satganā wa Basant rāḥ, anonymous translation from Hindi made in 1789, Ms. Bib. Osl. 7785/74. Available at:

– Qānūn-i ‘ishrat tarjama-yi Kūk shastr, a Persian adaptation of the materials of the Kokaśāstra, on sexology, Ms. BWL 166.Available at:

– Majmū‘a, a collection dealing with siyāq, Hindu mythology and castes, Ms. BWL 168. Available at:

– Faras nāma, tarjama-yi Sālūtar, a Persian adaptation of the teachings of the Śālihotra, a treatise on the horse and its treatment. The translation was made at Gulbarga by ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ṣafī seemingly at the request of sultan Aḥmad Walī Bahmanī (r. 1422-1435), Ms. BWL W55, illustrated manuscript, copied in 1793.
Available at:

-Faras nāma, tarjama-yi Sālhūtar, an anonymous Persian version of the Śālihotra, Ms. BWL W31, copied in 1839.
Available at:

For more information see: Adam Gacek, 2005, Persian Manuscripts in the Libraries of McGill University: Brief Union Catalogue, Montreal, McGill University Libraries.
More manuscripts are in the process of being digitized, so stay tuned.

NEW: Arabic literature subject guide

The Islamic Studies Library launched a new subject guide focusing on Classical and contemporary Arabic literature. This selection of sources comprises encyclopedias and dictionnaries, databases, journals (print and electronic), and internet sites.

Classical and contemporary Arabic literature  McGill Library - McGill UniversityThe Classical and contemporary Arabic literature subject guide can be accessed in two ways:

1. Via the Islamic Studies Library website
Islamic Studies Library  McGill Library - McGill University2. Via the list of subject guides (under Islamic and Middle East Studies)
Subject guides  McGill Library - McGill University

Check it out and let us know what you think!