Dana Sajdi teaches various courses on Islamic history but specializes in the history, societies, and cultures of the pre-modern Eastern Mediterranean (the Levant, Egypt, and Turkey). Her work has focused primarily on the production of texts by unusual authors, such as an 8th-century woman-poet, Layla al-Akhyaliyya, and an 18th-century barber, Ibn Budayr. Her questions had to do with the politics of the production and consumption of texts and the unusual circumstances that allowed new types of authors to emerge.
Her current project, “Visualizing Damascus” is also about textual production, but this time the subject is on the descriptions of the venerable city, Damascus. She is trying to isolate and identify an uninterrupted tradition of prose (non-pictorial) topographies between the 12th and 20th centuries. Through this tradition, she hopes to write a history of Damascus for both academic and lay audiences and is currently acquiring the skills to undertake digital cartography for her project.
A précis of the book: “What the Barber Saw” by Jeri Zeder http://bcm.bc.edu/issues/winter_2014/inquiring_minds/what-the-barber-saw.html
An interview about the book with Elliot Brandow, Senior Reference Librarian, Boston College Libraries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQlAQLSFqk8
A review of the book in the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman http://www.todayszaman.com/arts-culture_book-aims-to-change-prejudices-about-ottoman-tulip-era_357172.html