Near and Middle East Section

Professor Stefan Sperl

Key information

Roles
Emeritus Professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Professorial Research Associate
Department
Near and Middle East Section
Qualifications
BA (Oxon), PhD (London)
Building
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office
433
Email address
ss6@soas.ac.uk
Telephone number
+44(0) 20 7898 4338

Biography

Stefan Sperl was born in Stuttgart and brought up in Luxembourg.  He studied Arabic at Oxford and the American University in Cairo and did his postgraduate research at SOAS.  In 1978 he joined UNHCR and held several assignments in the Middle East and Geneva.  He returned to SOAS 1988.  His publications include Mannerism in Arabic Poetry (1989), Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia & Africa (1996, with Christopher Shackle), as well as numerous articles on Arabic, Islamic and Refugee Studies.  In 2005 he embarked on a research project with Ahmed Moustafa which resulted in their joint publication The Cosmic Script: Sacred Geometry and the Science of Arabic Penmanship (2014).  It won the Iran World Award for the Book of the Year in 2016.  Among his most recent publications are Faces of the Infinite: Neoplatonism and Poetry at the Confluence of Africa, Asia and Europe (2022, edited with Yorgos Dedes) and the website Lyrics of Ascent: Poetry and the Platonic Tradition, An Anthology.

Research interests

Arabic Literature Classical and Modern; Comparative Literature; Qur’an and Hadith Studies; Islamic Art; Sufism and Neoplatonism; Refugee and Exile Studies

Publications

Contact Stefan