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USF to host “Nothing Islamic is Strange to Me: The Mindset of the Jewish Founding Fathers of Islamic Studies” lecture

TAMPA, Fla. -- The University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Religious Studies will present the seventh June Baumgardner Gelbart Lecture in Jewish Studies. “Nothing Islamic is Strange to Me: The Mindset of the Jewish Founding Fathers of Islamic Studies” will be presented by Noam Stillman, Schusterman/Josey Professor of Judaic History at the University of Oklahoma. Stillman is an internationally recognized authority on the history and culture of the Islamic world and on Sephardi and Oriental Jewry. The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in the USF Marshall Student Center Oval Theatre.

Many of the founding fathers of Islamic Studies in the 19th century were German and central European Jews who were products of both traditional Jewish and classical gymnasium educations. They totally transformed the tone of academic discourse vis-à-vis Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and set the modern scholarly agenda for the academic study of Islam in the broadest sense of a civilization for generations to come.

Comparing it to their people’s historical experience in Christendom, some Jewish scholars saw it as a veritable “Golden Age,” and that notion took root in popular imagination. In this talk, Stillman will discuss the attitudes of some of these pioneering Jewish scholars together with personal reflections on three of his own teachers who were among the last great representatives of this scholarly tradition.

This lecture is made possible by a generous grant from the June Baumgardner Gelbart Foundation. A Tampa Bay area philanthropist and patron of the arts,Gelbart was active in the local Jewish community and committed to programs serving Jewish youth. The Foundation continues June Baumgarner Gelbart’s philanthropic legacy.

The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session and a light reception. This presentation is free and open to USF students, faculty and staff, and to the general public. If you would like to reserve a seat, please email

The University of South Florida is located at 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620. Directions to the Marshall Student Center, can be found here: Pay by space available in the Crescent Hill Parking Facility.


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