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Shazia joined the department in 2019 as Lecturer in Medieval and Global Literature from the University of Surrey where she was a Lecturer in Medieval Literature (2017-2019). Before that, she was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the Centre for Medieval Literature (CML), a multilingual, interdisciplinary and international centre based jointly at the University of York and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). During this time, she was based at SDU in Odense where she also taught in the faculties of English and Comparative Literature. Shazia obtained her PhD from the University of Leicester in 2014. For her doctoral research on Arabic learning in Chaucer, she also held a Junior Research Fellowship funded by the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) where she was based at the British Institute in Amman, Jordan.
Shazia’s research brings together her training in both English literature and Near and Middle Eastern Studies in order to explore the connections, both entangled and diffuse, between Western literary culture and the Islamic world during the medieval period. She is interested in the cultural dissemination of ideas, narratives and visual and material culture and ways of approaching the dynamics of engagement with the broadly defined ‘East’ through historical and intellectual contact. Her research takes a multilingual and interdisciplinary approach, working across late medieval English literature, the history of science, art and religion and emphasizes an engagement with Arabic, Latin and vernacular literature, Middle English in particular. Shazia is also interested in modern and contemporary literature on Europe and the Muslim world and ways of working across both medieval and modern contexts and critical frameworks on orientalism, postcolonialism and global literature.
Shazia’s current book project, Distilling Chaucer: Arabic Learning and the Islamic World in Fourteenth-Century England (working title) aims to provide the first composite study of Chaucer’s Arabic ‘sources’. In particular, it argues for an Arabic presence in Chaucer evinced in Chaucer’s use of scientific technologies, astrological lore, philosophical inquiry and alchemical esotericism; subjects which were most heavily influenced by Arabic translations and commentaries in the Latin West. Shazia began this work during her PhD which argued that Chaucer’s use of Arabic learning, principally scientific and philosophical, informed his depiction of refined love (fin’amors), loss and melancholy in addition to exploring attitudes and reception of Islam in late medieval English literature. Shazia also works on textual, visual and material culture. She has written on the visual representation of Averroes, the Arabic Aristotelian philosopher from al-Andalus, as found in Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s principal Dominican basilica and is currently working more closely with Islamic manuscripts.
With colleagues from the University of Southern Denmark, Shazia has also spearheaded a new, collaborative project with the Centre for Medieval Literature (CML) and the David Collection (Copenhagen), an art museum that holds the most extensive collection of Islamic art in Northern Europe. This interdisciplinary project began in 2016-17 with a workshop examining medieval ascension narratives from the Prophet Muhammad’s Mi’raj to Dante’s Divine Comedy and has now broadened out to a project, Shared Moveable Worlds,which seeks to write a new literary history of medieval world literature from the Silk Roads to Northern Europe in a collaborative, comparative and connected manner. As part of this project, Shazia is working on the folios of al-Sufi’s Kitab suwar al-kawakib al-thabita (‘Book of Fixed Stars’) currently housed in the David Collection.
Shazia is also a Management Committee member for the EU COST Action network, Islamic Legacies in Europe (IS-LE) and an associate member of the CML.