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The Barber of DamascusNouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant$
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Dana Sajdi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785327

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785327.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Barber of Damascus

Dana Sajdi

Stanford University Press

The chapter is a brief introduction to the barber, Ibn Budayr, and his work, and to the phenomenon of nouveau literacy. It outlines the conceptual contours of the phenomenon by positing it as an effect of a changing social and political order in the eighteenth-century Levant. It argues that socially mobile individuals of varied backgrounds converged on the writing of chronicles in order to negotiate for or within new social positions. Nouveau literacy, thus, is not about a rise in technical literacy among the Levantine populace, but about the acquisition of new cultural literacy. In short, this is about the rise of authority among new social groups. With their arrival on the stage of historiography, these new authors marginalize the habitual author of the chronicle, the `ālim, that is, the scholar. The chapter also offers a brief description of the chronicle of the barber, The Daily Events of Damascus.

Keywords:   nouveau literacy, technical literacy, cultural literacy, chronicle, ālim, Levant, Damascus, authority, Daily Events of Damascus

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