About this Site: This site, which began as my personal blog, has a couple of purposes that I’d like to develop more going forward. Foremost, I would like for it to serve as a place to present my scholarship- primarily, but not exclusively, on early modern and medieval Islam- in formats accessible to the interested public (you, dear reader). Second, you will continue to find the sorts of personal reflections and opinion pieces that made up my original blog, hopefully matured somewhat. Finally, you will find things under the broad rubric of ‘culture’- primarily poetry, my own and that of others, but also the odd short story, photographic essay, maybe even a bit of art I’ve made. I think there is an inner logic connecting all of these parts, but feel free to peruse the material that interests you and ignore the rest. For all of it, I welcome interaction- questions, comments, criticism, and so forth. I welcome the use of my work in other, non-commercial contexts; all the original content here should be regarded as falling under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. While use and reproduction of this material is of course free, if you do find anything here useful for whatever purposes, do think about chipping in a little support!
About the Author: My name is Dr. Jonathan Parkes Allen, and I am a sometime historian. I am a recent PhD in Ottoman and Islamic history (my dissertation can be read online: Self, Space, Society, and Saint in the Well-Protected Domains: A History of Ottoman Saints and Sainthood, 1500-1780), and am currently a post-doctoral researcher attached to the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland working on, among other things, Islamicate typography and print history, and, as of 2021, Islamicate Arabic script manuscripts and the development of handwritten text recognition for the Arabic script manuscript tradition. My wife Wynne, our son Cormac, our daughter Vera, our two tabby cats Benjamin and Flora, and I live in the charming hamlet of Takoma Park, MD, a couple miles north of the Washington, D.C., line, a place also affectionately known as the People’s Republic of Takoma Park.
My area of research interest is, broadly, the medieval and early modern Islamic world, with my current focus primarily on early modern Ottoman religious history, though my subsidiary interests are many, as you can deduce from this blog. I work primarily in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish, with translations from those languages appearing rather frequently here. I am also interested in Armenian and Syriac matters, albeit more peripherally, and with much more basic relevant linguistic skills. I enjoy history across the board really, especially but by no means exclusively medieval. I’m also a bit of an amateur botanist with an interest in ecology, evolutionary biology, environmental history, and other attendant disciplines. I’ve published academically a bit, here are a couple recent highlights: Up All Night Out of Love for the Prophet: Devotion, Sanctity, and Ritual Innovation in the Ottoman Arab Lands, 1500–1620, Journal of Islamic Studies, Volume 30, Issue 3, September 2019; Sanctifying Domestic Space and Domesticating Sacred Space: Reading Ziyāra and Taṣliya in Light of the Domestic in the Early Modern Ottoman World, Religions 2020, 11(2), 59. The latter is open access; if you’d like to read the former and don’t have access, e-mail and let me know and I can send you a copy.
I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian; I grew up Southern Baptist and converted after a longish but not terribly exciting process. Politically I’m something of an anarcho-Tory, if that makes any sense to anyone. I have a fondness for agrarianism and distributism as well as mutualism and libertarian socialism.
Finally: in case you’re wondering about ‘Thicket & Thorp’: it’s a line from Gerard Manely Hopkins. Thorp is an archaic word that means village or hamlet. Hence, ‘thicket and thorp’ connects ‘wild’ nature and human habitation, which, in reality, aren’t strict dichotomies, anymore than many supposed dualities really are. But mostly I came across them while thinking up a blog title and really liked the sound of the words.
Contact Information and Such: My old blog can be accessed here; my Academia.edu page is here. My e-mail is jonathanjallen8460 at gmail.com if you’d like to contact me that way, or at my institutional e-mail, jallen22 at umd.edu. My Twitter feed is to the right, do follow me if you’re there.
Me and the family at Christmas last year