THE TEXT AS TEACHER : RUMI’S MASNAVI with Professor Alan Williams

ONE-WEEK RESIDENTIAL from 11 to 19 JUNE 2016 at Chisholme Institute, Roberton, HAWICK, TD9 7PH.   The course costs £420 full board for eight nights.For more information and application forms, please contact or +44 (0)1450 880 215

This course starts from the premise that in the text of the Masnavi is the presence of the teacher.  Attention to such a presence is crucially important for the reader to understand this long and profound text, written over 750 years ago in Persian.   Reading it today in English requires just as much attentive application as Rumi’s disciples would have had to dedicate to it – whether they were listening to their Master, Mevlana/Mowlana, in person or studying it in private in the Mevlevi seminary.  

Traditionally the Masnavi was an advanced course of study, for more mature students of the gnostic path.   Now, in the contemporary, globalized context, it is all the more important to read the text with a fidelity such as is demanded by an autograph musical score – such a score that can be realised in performance only, by attending meticulously to the direction the author has included in the text. 

The presence of the teacher can be discerned from the first page, as the reader is welcomed and befriended:  access between the imagination of the author and reader of the text is opened up, and the address remains entirely personal, simultaneously directed to the reader’s ‘you’ and offered to the divine ‘You’.

Structure of a course of learning and listening The course, led by Alan Williams, will run as a one-week residential seminar. After an initial day of introduction and preparation, days 2–6 will comprise morning and afternoon study sessions while the evenings will be given over to more practical, experiential activities. The final day will be set aside for conclusions and reflections. The evening sessions will be varied and will centre on the theme of listening. They will include, among other things, listening to the results from the creative exercises, listening to music, and listening to the performed spoken word. Course facilitator. Alan Williams is British Academy Research Professor and Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester. His publications include books and articles ranging from Zoroastrianism to Classical and Modern Persian literature, via Translation Studies and Comparative Literature. He is currently contracted to publish all six volumes of the Masnavi with I.B. Tauris of London.

He is also the Programme Director for BIPS Medieval Research Programme.