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Matthew Melvin-Koushki
University of South Carolina
Associate Professor
Department of History
University of South Carolina, 211 Gambrell Hall
Columbia SC 29208
United States
Matthew Melvin-Koushki (PhD Yale) is Associate Professor and McCausland Fellow of History at the University of South Carolina. He specializes in early modern Islamicate intellectual and imperial history, with a focus on the theory and practice of the occult sciences in Timurid-Safavid Iran and the wider Persianate world to the nineteenth century. Melvin-Koushki’s several forthcoming books include Occult Philosophers and Philosopher Kings in Early Modern Iran: The Life and Legacy of Ibn Turka, Timurid Lettrist and The Occult Science of Empire in Aqquyunlu-Safavid Iran: Two Shirazi Lettrists and Their Manuals of Magic, and he is co-editor of the volumes Islamicate Occultism: New Perspectives (2017) and Islamicate Occult Sciences in Theory and Practice (2020), the first in the field to treat of post-Mongol Persianate developments. His 30 published or forthcoming articles and review essays range widely temporally, geographically and disciplinarily, from Ilkhanid Iran, Mamluk Egypt and Ottoman Anatolia to Mughal India and Manghit Transoxania, and from history of science and history of philosophy to imperial historiography and literary and visual theory, including history of the book. Taken together, this corpus constitutes a new analytical framework for the study of early modern Persianate societies—one which retrieves Islamic Magic as a crucial category for interrogating the construction of Western early modernities, and hence scientific modernity, more broadly.
Sub Areas
13th-18th Centuries
Central Asian Studies
Islamic Studies
Iranian Studies
Geographic Areas of Interest
Central Asia
Occult Sciences
History Of Philosophy-Science
Early Modern Persianate Empires
Arabic (advanced)
Persian (advanced)
PhD | 2012 | Islamic Studies | Yale University
MPhil | 2009 | Islamic Studies | Yale University
MA | 2008 | Islamic Studies | Yale University
BA | 2004 | Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures | University of Virginia
Subversion and Synthesis in 15th Century Islamicate Occult Philosophy: The Lettrism of Kashifi and Davani The Unpatriotic Persian: Fazl Allah Khunji as Pioneer of Anti-Safavid Propaganda Performing (Occult) Philosopher-Kingship in Timurid Transoxania: Ulugh Beg as Sultan-Scientist Talismans as Technology: The Construction and Operation of Magical Machines in Early Modern Persian Grimoires and Chronicles Boozing and Battling and Democratic Magic: The Qizilbash Sensorium Maps the Timurid-Safavid Transition in a Persian Imperial Grimoire