Dr Delia Cortese is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies and University Religious Studies Co-ordinator. She is also Middlesex University Link Tutor for several collaborative partner institutionsdelivering MU-validated programmes in the areas of Theology and Religious Studies. She holds a PhD in Islamic Studies awarded by the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her other academic qualifications include:
Dr Cortese was also post-doctoral fellow of the Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli (now Universita' di Napoli L'Orientale) carring out research on women in the Fatimid period (see publications).
She is Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Prior and, for some time, in conjuction with her work at Middlesex University, she was Visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Regents' American College London and Research Assistant (Middle East Department), Bernard Quaritch LTD, Antiquarian Booksellers.
Dr Cortese's past external appointments were:
She is affiliate member of the following professional associations:
Dr Cotese explains her research, why it's important and how it teaches her students.
Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam. (with S. Calderini). Edinburgh: EdinburghUniversity Press, 2006.
Arabic Ismaili Manuscripts: The Zahid Ali Collection. London: IB Tauris, 2003.
Arabic and other Ismaili Manuscripts. London: I.B. Tauris, 2000.
Mauritania . ( With S. Calderini and J. Webb). Oxford: Clio Press, 1992.
Books (work in progress):
The Fatimids, London: Reaktion Books, due 2023
Italian (native speaker)
Arabic (very good)
German, Spanish, Latin and Greek (working knowledge)
Cortese, Delia (2022) The Majmū al-tarbiya between text and paratext: Exploring the social history of a community’s reading culture. In: Texts, Scribes and Transmission: Manuscript Cultures of the Ismaili Communities and Beyond. Momin, Wafi A. , ed. I.B. Tauris / Bloomsbury, London, UK, pp. 163-182. ISBN 978-0-7556-4537-4
Cortese, Delia (2019) Beyond space and time: the itinerant life of books in the Fāṭimid market place. In: Intellectual Interactions in the Islamic World: The Ismaili Thread. Mir-Kasimov, Orkhan , ed. Shi'i Heritage Series . I. B. Tauris, London, pp. 407-426. ISBN 9781838604851
Cortese, Delia (2019) Common threads in the making of Fāṭimid and Norman textiles in the hands of women. In: Discovering Common Roots: Sicily and the Mediterranean- a History of Pluralistic Traditions, 11-13 Dec 2017, Palermo, Sicily. (Accepted/In press)
Cortese, Delia (2019) A patron of men: Sitt al-Mulk and the military at the Fatimid court. Textes Arabes et Etudes Islamiques , 54 . pp. 217-234. ISSN 0257-4136
Cortese, Delia (2018) The majmū' al-tarbiyah between text and paratext: exploring the social history of a community's reading culture. In: Before the Printed Word:Texts, Scribes and Transmission, 12-13 Oct 2017, London, United Kingdom. (Accepted/In press)
2013. Invited to be member of the editorial board of the new series "Iranian Intellectual Traditions" published by Goethe & Hafis Verlag.
2011. Oral testimony for a project commissioned by the UK Department of Communities and Local Government on Faith Leaders Training. Outcome: plans for greater integration of Muslim women.
2009. Visiting Professor at Universita' di Napoli 'L' Orientale' to deliver lectures on Islam and Gender as part of the programme of academic activities designed for Italian doctoral students in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
2008. Expert witness on religious practices and beliefs for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre v The Natural History Museum, London in the legal case brought by the TAC against scientific tests conducted by the NHM on the skulls of ancestors. Outcome: TAC won injunction against NHM.
2007. Key note speaker at the Egyptian Cultural Centre, London.
2006. Key note speaker at The World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna Ashari Muslim Community, London.
2006. Invited speaker at The Ismaili Tariqa Board of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.
‘Transmitting Sunni Learning in Fatimid Egypt: The Female Voices’ in F. Daftary and S. Jiwa (eds), The Fatimid Caliphate: Diversity of Traditions, I.B. Tauris, London: 2018, pp. 164-191;
‘The Nile: Its Role in the Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Fatimid Dynasty During its Rule of Egypt (969–1171)’, History Compass, 13, (2015), 20–29;
(with S.Calderini ) ‘The Architectural Patronage of the Fāṭimid Queen-Mother Durzān (d. 385/995): An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Literary Sources, Material Evidence and Historical Context’ in D.Talmon-Heller and K.Cytryn-Silverman (eds.), Material Evidence and Narrative Sources, Interdisciplinary Studies of the History of the Muslim Middle East, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2014.
'Lost and found: the Sarguẕasht-i Sayyid-nā. Facts and Fiction of Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ's Travel to Egypt vis-à-vis the Political and Intellectual Life of 5th/11th century Fāṭimid Cairo', 2014.
'A Patron of Men: Sitt al-Mulk and the Military at the Fatimid Court' conference proceedings of the Institute Français d'Archeologie Orientale (IFAO), Cairo, 2019.
'Upper Egypt: a Shi'i 'powerhouse' in the Fatimid Period?', Festschrift in Honour of Prof. Carmela Baffioni, I.U.O, Naples, e 2018.
Her recently published article on the contribution of Sunni women to the transmission of knowledge in Fatimid Egypt has been translated into Arabic in an anthology published in Dubai in 2019. Another article on dreams in Islam was translated in Portuguese. Another recent publication deal with the trading of books in medieval Egypt.
Past publications include:
'Voices of the Silent Majority: the Transmission of Sunni Learning in Fāṭimid Ismā'īlī Egypt', Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, vol. 39 (2012), pp. 345-366.
'A Dream Come-True: Empowerment Through Dreams Reflecting Fatimid-Sulayhid Relations' in O. Ali-de-Unzaga (ed.), Fortress of the Intellect, Ismaili and other Islamic Studies in Honour of Farhad Daftary, London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011, pp.387-402.
'The Commodification of the Mushaf in the Early Centuries of Islam' in Robert M. Kerr & Thomas Milo (eds), Writings and Writing from another world and another era. Investigations in Islamic Text and Script in Honour of Dr Januarius Justus Witkam Professor of Codicology and Palaeography of the Islamic World at Leyden University, Cambridge: Archetype Press, 2011, pp.42-65.
'The political and economic contexts of Fatimid female patronage during the reign of al-'Aziz (365/975-386/996)', in Atti del Convegno: I Fatimidi ed il Mediterraneo: Il sistema di relazioni nel mondo dell'Islam e nell'area del Mediterraneo nel periodo della da 'wa fatimide (sec. X-XI): istituzioni, societa', cultura, Alifba, Studi arabo-islamici e medieterranei, vol. 22 (2008), pp.81-94.
' "A Woman's Work is Never Done": Women and Da'wa in Early Ismailism', in U. Vermeulen and K. D'Hulster, (eds), Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras, Proceedings of the 11th, 12th and 13th International Colloquium organized at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in May 2002, 2003 and 2004, Leuven: Peeters, 2007, pp.63-72.
'Medieval Sapiential Knowledge and Modern Science in Islam. Some Considerations on a 'Missed Link' Based on the Thought of Gamal al-Din al-Afghani', in C. Baffioni, (ed.), Religion versus Science in Islam: A Medieval and Modern Debate, Oriente Moderno, vol.19 (80), n.s., 3 (2000), pp.503-517.
'The Ismaili Resurrection of Alamut: A Bid for Spiritual Awakening or a Statement of Political Authority?' in .S. E. Porter, M. A. Hayes and D. Tombs, Resurrection, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999, pp.249-263.
'Hibat Allah', Encyclopedia of Islam 3rd edition.
'Sitt al-Mulk', Encyclopedia of Women in World History, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
'Concubinage', The [Oxford] Encyclopaedia of Islam and Women, OUP, 2013.
'Fāṭimids', Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God, Fitzpatrick, C. & Walker, A. (Eds.), planned publication 2013.
Arts of the City Victorious, Islamic Art and Architecture in Fatimid North Africa and Egypt, by Jonathan M. Bloom, New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 2007 in Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies, vol. 2, no. 3 (2009), pp. 327-332.
The Ismā 'īlīs. Their History and Doctrines by Farhad Daftary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007 2nd ed. in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol. 71, no. 3, (2008), pp. 576-577.
An article on the role of women in the making of textiles in medieval Sicily and Egypt. Also an artcle on reading practices in an Ismaili cmmunity. Over the last few years she was invited to be part of an ERC-funded international project based at University of Erlanghen on practices of prognostication in the Middle Ages. To the project she has contribute three articles on dreams, messianism and prophethood that are undergoing proof-reading at the time of writing and are to be published by November 2020.
Over the years, Delia has presented papers at tens of specialist international conferences, has been chair of panels, key note speaker and guest of honour at high profile academic events worldwide. Finally she has a media presence, with her latest major appearance in a documentary on the Holy Grail produced by the Smythsonian Institute and broadcast in 2016.
Past conference include:
15-18 December 2011 "Sitt al-Mulk: Juggling Troops, Traps and Throne at the Fatimid Court",Guerre et paix dans le Proche-Orient médiéval. IFAO-IFPO, Cairo, Egypt.
22-23 July 2011 "Egypt: 471/1078-472/1079. A Waste of Time in the Life of Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ?", Science in Context: The Dustūr al-munjjimīnand its world.An interdisciplinary workshop on the traditions of science and learning in the Ismaili domain, University of Bonn, Germany.
27-29 May 2010 "The Commodification of the Mushaf in the Early Centuries of Islam"(read in absentia) Conference:Codicology and History of the Manuscript in Arabic script, Madrid, Spain.
Dec. 2008. 'The political and economic contexts of Fatimid female patronage during the reign of al-'Azīz (365/975-386/996)', I Fatimidi ed il Mediterraneo, Accademia Libica and University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
Oct. 2008. 'Patronising or patronized? Interpreting Female Architectural Patronage during the reign of al-Aziz', Historians of Islamic Art Association Bi-Annual Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
May. 2008. 'Reconsidering Fatimid Female Patronage: Preliminary Remarks', The 17th Colloquium on Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras, University of Ghent, Belgium.
May 2007. 'Qissat al-Ru'ya: a Sulayhid or a Tayyibi Dream Narrative?' The 16th Colloquium on Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras, University of Ghent, Belgium.
May 2005. 'A Re-appraisal of al-Hakim's Policies Affecting Women in the Fatimid Period', The 14th Colloquium on Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras, University of Leuven, Belgium.
May 2004. 'Women and Ismaili Propaganda in the Early Fatimid Period', The 13th Colloquium on Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras, University of Leuven, Belgium.
10-13 October 2013 "Upper Egypt: a Shi'i 'powerhouse' in the Fatimid period?". MESA, New Orleans, USA.
17-20 November 2012 "Women's Contribution to the Transmission of Learning in Fatimid Egypt". MESA, Denver, USA.
12-16 September 2012 "Sunni Learning in Fatimid Egypt: the Female voices". UEAI, Basel, Switzerland.
18-21 November 2010 "The Transmission of Sunni Learning in Fatimid Ismaili Egypt", 44th annual MESA conference, San Diego, USA.
8 - 12 September, 2010 "Sunni Learning in Fatimid Ismaili Egypt" 25th Congress of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (UEAI 25), Naples, Italy.
19-24 July 2010 "Voices of the Silent Majority: Sunni Learning in Fatimid Ismaili Egypt" WOCMES (3rd World Conference on Middle Eastern Studies), Barcelona, Spain.
November 2007. 'A Dream Come-True: Empowerment through Dreams in the Fatimid Period', 41st annual MESA Conference, Montreal, Canada.
June 2006. 'Women's Contribution to the Early Ismaili Da'wa', WOCMES (2nd World Conference of Middle East Studies), Amman, Jordan.
November 2005. 'Out of Order? Reconsidering al-Hakim's Restrictions to the Mobility of Women in the Fatimid Period', 39th annual MESA conference, Washington DC, USA.
November 2004. 'Revisiting the Life and Deeds of the Fatimid Princess Sitt al-Mulk', 38th annual MESA conference, San Francisco,USA.
September 2002. 'The life of women at the Fatimid Court' WOCMES (1st World Conference of Middle East Studies), Mainz, Germany.
August 2000. 'Islam and the Study of Other Religions: A contradiction in Terms?' 18th World Congress of The International Association for the History of Religions, Durban, South Africa.