From Kitabkhana [Library] to Karkhana [Workshop]

September 10, 2021 (Friday) / 10:00 am6:00 pm

Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
6th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library; 3420 Walnut Street

From Kitabkhana [Library] to Karkhana [Workshop]

The Arts of the Book in South Asia

The contemporary art world has witnessed an explosion of interest in the book form, exemplified by Karkhana [Workshop] (2003-2005), a project in which six artists graduates of the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan modeled their work on the imperial Mughal kitabkhana (library). Taking its cue from such projects, this workshop examines art books and book arts in South Asia from 1100 C.E. to the present. Participants analyze the relationship of visuality, materiality, orality, and textuality in a society where “a painting was like the leaf of a book…not seen but read,” to quote art historian B.N. Goswamy. 

Speakers include Iftikhar Dadi (Cornell), Sylvia Houghteling (Bryn Mawr), Sonal Khullar (University of Pennsylvania), Jinah Kim (Harvard), Yael Rice (Amherst), Holly Shaffer (Brown), Laura Weinstein (MFA Boston), and Anand Yang (University of Washington).


Panel 1 - Carrying, Covering, Captioning (10:00am - 12:15pm)



Moderator: Daud Ali, Associate Professor and Chair of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania



“A Book and the Goddess: The Devimahatmya from Palm Leaf to Paper”

Jinah Kim, George P. Bickford Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University



"Clothing the Book: Texts, Textiles, and An Ethics of Care”

Sylvia Houghteling, Assistant Professor of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College 



“Meaning in the Margins: Kannada Captions in a Deccani Sindbadnama”

Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Panel 2 - Cutting and Pasting (1:15pm - 2:30pm)



Moderator: Rahul Mukherjee, Dick Wolf Associate Professor of Television and New Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania



“Books that Bind: The Persianate Album and its Widespread Circulation”

Yael Rice, Assistant Professor of the History of Art and Asian Languages and Civilizations, Amherst College



“Migrations Among Media: Photographic Albums, Wall Paintings, and Chromolithographs”

Holly Shaffer, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Brown University



Panel 3 - Reading and Recycling (3:00pm - 4:45pm)



Moderator: Megan Robb, Julie and Martin Franklin Assistant Professor in Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania



“Lithographic Assemblages: The Urdu Art Book in the Age of Print”

Iftikhar Dadi, Associate Professor and Chair of History of Art and Visual Culture and Director of the South Asia Program, Cornell University



“Books and the Matter of Art: Notes on Materiality, Dematerialization, and Value”

Sonal Khullar, W. Norman Brown Associate Professor of South Asian Studies, Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania



“In My Father’s Trunk”

Anand A. Yang, Walker Family Endowed Professor in History and Professor of International Studies, University of Washington