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Congratulations to Dr Alba Fedeli, who received her PhD from the University of Birmingham today.

Graduation ceremony

Alba's doctorate, undertaken in ITSEE, was supervised by Professor David Parker and supported by the AHRC. Its title is Early Qur'ānic manuscripts, their text, and the Alphonse Mingana papers held in the Department of Special Collections of the University of Birmingham. The abstract is as follows:

The Special Collections of the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham hold seven early Qur’ānic pieces on parchment and papyrus dating from the seventh century. Alphonse Mingana purchased them from the antiquarian dealer von Scherling in 1936. Through investigation of the private correspondence of Mingana and archival documents, this research provides new information about the origin and history of the fragments, whose reception has been influenced by the European cultural context at the beginning of the twentieth century, in contrast with the public image proposed in catalogues, official documents and previous studies.
Furthermore, this research is an attempt to initiate an alternative perspective in analysing and editing the physical objects and texts of early Qur’ānic manuscripts by applying digital philology, thus using XML-encoded expressions to transcribe all of the richness of manuscripts in reconstructing the history of their transmission. This perspective interprets the process of the making of the manuscript text and the context in which the manuscript was written, thus editing its mobile and multi-layered text, differently from previous examples of the edition of early Qur’ānic manuscripts.

Alba's research included making an electronic edition, which is available on the University of Birmingham Institutional Research Archive. Alba's thesis has also been deposited on the University of Birmingham eTheses repository.

Dr Fedeli is taking up a postdoctoral fellowship in the autumn at the University of Budapest, where she will continue her work on the relationship and texts of early Qur'anic manuscripts.

Among the other graduates this afternoon were Dr Drew Longacre, now pursuing postdoctoral research in Finland at the University of Helsinki, and the Revd Dr Mark Pryce, the first holder of the University's doctorate in Practical Theology.