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Department of Religious Studies

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Noah D. Gardiner

Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Religious Studies
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-2023
Office: Rutledge, Room 325
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Noah Gardiner

Noah Gardiner is a scholar of Islamic thought and culture with particular research interests in Sufism, esotericism and the occult sciences, manuscript culture, and the Arabic-speaking Mediterranean of the 12th-15th centuries C.E. Much of his present research concerns the spread and development of the “science of letters and names” (ʿilm al-huruf wa-al-asmaʾ), a body of mystico-magical thought on the relationship between divine speech and manifest reality that, with various caveats, can usefully be described as an Islamic Kabbalah. Broadly speaking, and with regard to both premodern and modern Islamic contexts, he is interested in the ways that ideas and practices move from the fringes to the mainstream (and sometimes back again), and in Muslim thinkers’ various strategies for assimilating or excluding “foreign” discourses. Even more broadly, he is interested in the role of “the book” in religion—as material artifact, transcendent text, and everything in-between.  

Noah completed his Ph.D. in 2014 in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. His dissertation, “Esotericism in a manuscript culture: Ahmad al-Buni and his readers through the Mamluk period,” concerned the seminal Sufi occultist Ahmad al-Buni. Drawing on a survey he conducted of hundreds of manuscript-copies of al-Buni’s works, he traces how al-Buni’s controversial teachings on the science of letters and names percolated through late-medieval Muslim society at the hands of various reading communities, moving from closed circles of Sufi readers to the courts of ruling elites. The dissertation was awarded the 2014 Bruce D. Craig Prize for Mamluk Studies.

In the year prior to coming to the University of South Carolina, Noah was a Junior Fellow (postdoctoral) at Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg, the Mamluk-studies institute at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität Bonn, where he was largely occupied with a work on a book-manuscript based on his dissertation research.

Noah teaches the following courses:

  • Exploring Religion: Religion and the Book
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Qurʿan and Hadith
  • Sufism
  • Islamic Theology and Philosophy

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