Professor William Graham talks about his scholarly journey and how he "stumbled" into Islamic studies after pursuing other subjects including Classics and Sanskrit and Indian studies. He also shares his memories of his advisors at Harvard, Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Muhsin Mahdi, and other scholars who shaped Islamic studies including Josef van Ess, Abdelhamid Sabra, Harry Wolfson, Annemarie Schimmel, and George Makdisi. Finally, Professor Graham reflects on his involvement across the different homes of Islamic studies at Harvard including Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Study of Religion, and Harvard Divinity School as well as his scholarly interest in the Qur'an as an oral scripture.
William A. Graham is Murray A. Albertson Research Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Emeritus, in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus. During his 45 years of teaching at Harvard he served as chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on the Study of Religion, and the Core Curriculum Committee on Foreign Cultures; dean of the Harvard Divinity School; and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program.