The proliferation of intellectual and socio-religious networks in the post-Mongol Persianate world from the 14th century onwards has created a unique set of challenges and problems for scholars interested in exploring issues of epistemology and textual production. First, the intense peripateticism which emerged across the central and eastern Islamic world in the 14th and 15th centuries allowed for a scale of knowledge mobilization of profound proportions. Scholars, teachers, students, litterateurs, and poets crisscrossed from Anatolia to South Asia; these human migrations facilitated unprecedented textual movement. Manuscript copies of seminal works in Arabic and Persian not only proliferated but also traveled great distances in this era of exchange. Second, these networks were concomitant with an explosion of mystical brotherhoods and confraternities, and thus we encounter a constellation of religio-cultural identities which were actively contributing to not only theosophy, but also philosophy, history, politics, ethics, exegesis, poetry, prosody, grammar, syntax, mathematics, and the occult sciences.
Third, and arguably most important for this current panel, it was during this period of the 15th century that we see the codifying and commodification of the New Persian literary renaissance of the 11th and 12th centuries; the literary footprints of earlier seminal texts in Persian prose and poetry were such that later scholars of the post-Mongol period developed a distinct culture which privileged and systemized the borrowing, adoption, paraphrasing, and copying of the textual past. In some cases, attribution for ideas and arguments were clearly noted, but in many other cases, this did not occur. For scholars interested exploring the epistemological shifts and changes of the premodern Perso-Islamic world, this panel hopes to shed light on how specific individuals like Husain Va`iz Kashifi and Mir Husain Maybudi negotiated and rationalized ideas like authorial privilege and textual precedence. Another paper, on Arabic translations of the Bible in premodern Iran, reminds us that the Perso-Islamic intellectual sphere operated also on a polemical front, and thus there are important inter-linguistic and inter-confessional dynamics to consider. Put simply: did Persianate premoderns have a system to negotiate with the textual past?