Dr. Donner’s main interests are the Origins of Islam, Tribal and Nomadic Society, Early Islamic History, and Islamic Historiography, and he offers courses on all these topics. He received his PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 1975, with study in Lebanon (1966-67) and at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen (1970-71). He taught at Yale University (History) from 1975 until 1982, at the University of Chicago (The Oriental Institute and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations) from 1982 until this retirement in 2020. His major publications include The Early Islamic Conquests (1981), Narratives of Islamic Origins: the beginnings of Islamic historical writing (1998) and Muhammad and the Believers: at the origins of Islam (2010). A few recent, shorter publications include «Talking About Islam’s Origins,» Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (2018), «Early Muslims and Peoples of the Book,» in Herbert Berg (ed.), Routledge Handbook on Early Islam (2018), and «Dīn, islām, und muslim im Koran,» in Georges Tamer (ed.), Die Koranhermeneutik Günter Lülings (2018). Donner served as President of MEM (Middle East Medievalists) from 1992-1994, President of MESA (Middle East Studies Association of North America) in 2012, and was elected in that year a life member of the Scientific Committee of the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Arts. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Center for Oriental Research (Amman, Jordan), The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the American Academy in Berlin (the «Berlin Prize»).
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