Sound and Scent in the Andalusian Garden

Al-Bustan is pleased to co-present the third event of Words Adorned with Bryn Mawr College’s Middle East Studies Program and Arabic Program

Presenting: A Talk by Dr. Dede Fairchild Ruggles
Islamic gardens were richly sensory environments: the poets tell us so, the manuscript paintings show us, and our own encounters with modern gardens reminds us of these pleasures. Dr. Ruggles will discuss the Andalusian Garden as she tries to answer the question: how do we study the sensory experiences of the past, given that the ephemeral effects of scented flowers and fleeting sounds leave so few traces?

D. Fairchild Ruggles

D. Fairchild Ruggles is Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with additional appointments to Architecture, Art History, Women’s Studies, and Medieval Studies. She directs the PhD Programs for the School of Architecture and the Department of Landscape Architecture and co-founded the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage and Museum Practices. She is trained as an historian of Islamic art and architecture, and her first body of research examined the medieval Andalusian landscape as a complex working system in which culture and ideology were inseparable from agricultural practice and economy, water management, and systems of representation. She has also written about the identity formation made possible by the positioning of the subjective self in relation to visually perceived space, problems of representation and the natural or “real,” the historiographic location of Islamic visual culture vis-a-vis the art of the western and ancient world, and the complex interrelationship of Islamic culture with Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism and the precise ways that religion and culture are often conflated in the study of these. She is the author of two award-winning books on gardens: Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain (2000), and Islamic Gardens and Landscapes (2008). Additionally she has edited or co-edited numerous works, including Women, Patronage, and Self-Representation in Islamic Societies (2000), the award winning Sites Unseen: Landscape and Vision (2007), Cultural Heritage and Human Rights (2007), Intangible Heritage Embodied (2009), On Location (2012), and Islamic Art and Visual Culture: An Anthology of Sources (2011).