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CSI Monday Majlis

Michael Bednar

Amir Khusrau and the narrative of history

Event details

Monday 4 December, 17:00-18:30 (UK time), Monday Majlis (online), Michael Bednar, Amir Khusrau and the narrative of history
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The Delhi sultan, ‘Alāuddīn Khaljī, conquered most of the Indian subcontinent during the first decade of the fourteenth century. His court poet, Amīr Khusrau Dehlavī, celebrated this achievement by writing the Treasury of Victories as the army returned from its final battle in 1311. While known for his love poetry, and to a lesser extent for narrative and panegyric poems, Amīr Khusrau wrote the Treasury of Victories in prose. Moreover, he chose to write the text in an ornate form saturated with metaphor that Dick Davis has termed ‘the jewelled style’. Paragraphs follow an identified metaphorical theme to describe victories over Sultanate society, Mongols, and Hindu kings. Instead of choosing metaphors that serve the narrative, the event determined the metaphor. This choice imbued the text with historicity while clouding its function as history that explains the past. It also raises questions about text’s purpose and audience with some surprising deductions.

Michael Boris Bednar (PhD, University of Texas-Austin, 2007), was the Assistant Professor of South Asian History at the University of Missouri (2007-14), worked in Circulation Services at the UMKC Miller Nichols Library (2016-23), lectured at Rockhurst University, William Jewell College, Avila University, and Donnelly College (2014-21), and currently works for the U.S. federal government. Trained in the history and textual traditions of Sanskrit and Persian, he studies Hindu and Muslim interactions during the Sultanate Period (1000-1500) and is currently revising a book manuscript, The Parrot and The Sultan, that reinterprets the relationship between the Persian poet Amīr Khusrau Dehlavī and the Delhi sultan ‘Alāuddīn Khaljī.

In the spirit of the label ‘Majlis’ and also to make the talks even more interesting, we are experimenting with a new format presenting the topic discussed by our speaker as embedded in their own research journey. Please come and enjoy the talks and the discussions. If you’d like to be included in the CSI (Centre for the Study of Islam (Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter) mailing list, please contact the CSI Manager: Sarah Wood (
We’ll be happy to welcome you!
Istvan T Kristó-Nagy