Academic Book Club | Jonathan Gill on 'The Essential Rumi'

Organized by the Illustere School and the Academic Club

12okt2017 17.00 - 18.45


We are pleased to welcome you to our monthly book club. On Thursday 12 October Persis Bekkering will interview dr. Jonathan Gill about 'The Essential Rumi'.

The Academic Book Club

In the meetings of the Academic Book Club we focus on one book, namely: the favorite book of a humanities scholar. The evening is led by Persis Bekkering, Literary Studies graduate of the UvA and journalist. Persis interviews her guest of the evening about the book he/she chose. Participants will receive questions and important topics regarding the book beforehand which they can keep in mind while reading. During the sessions, the ‘owner’ of the book presents a statement about the book, the book is discussed and participants are invited to ask questions and share their views.

Did not read/finish the book?  

During former Academic Book Club meetings, we would split up into small groups to discuss the book in question. As we want to present these beautiful evenings to a larger audience and also want to welcome those who are interested and possibly have not finished the book, we will discuss the book in plenary sessions so there is  ample opportunity to ask questions and discuss. 

Jonathan Gill about 'The Essential Rumi'

"Anyone who has spent time around children knows that the two things they want next are more of the same or something different.  As we grow up, not much seems to change, especially when it comes to our reading habits, though those of us who are professional readers often feel more comfortable with texts we already know.  As a specialist in American literature who discovered Rumi only last year and then proceeded to indulge myself in a full-fledged obsession with his life and works, I have been experiencing the special kind of joy and insight that comes with discovering something new, something strange, something distant.  Of course it is one of Rumi's key insights, and perhaps one of the reasons for his popularity: We are already where we need to be, and we already know what we need to learn: We are somehow not strangers to the strangeness that is Rumi.

Things to think about when reading Rumi:

  • How universal is Rumi's poetry?  
  • What kind of universality is it?  Philosophical? Psychological?
  • Is that universality the key to his popularity?
  • Do we somehow diminish Rumi's poetry by taking it out of its Muslim context, as most translators do?  
  • How does our answer to that question reveal our attitudes about poetry and religion?  
  • What do the poems themselves say about the way they might speak to non-Muslims?"

About the speakers

Dr. Jonathan Gill teaches at Amsterdam University College and is a writer. He received his PhD in American Literature from Columbia University and has taught literature, history and writing at Columbia University, Barnard College, the Manhattan School of Music, Fordham University and the City College of New York. 

Drs. Persis Bekkering studied Greek and Latin Language and Culture in Groningen and Literary Theory at the University of Amsterdam. She is a freelance art journalist. Her specialties are classical music and literature. She works for several clients, including the Volkskrant and Elle. 


The Academic Book Club is organized by the Illustere School and the Amsterdam Academic Club. 

Are you staying for diner?

After the Academic Book Club we will serve a Club Meal for 15 euros. Our members get a 15% discount. Please let us know if you would like to stay for dinner.


17:00 doors open and drinks
17:30 start Academic Book Club
18:45 end of programme, followed by drinks and dinner 

Sign up

Participation is free but signing up beforehand is required.

The registration form is in Dutch. If you need help filling it in, please contact us at

Amsterdamse Academische Club

  • Amsterdamse Academische Club (AAC)

    Oudezijds Achterburgwal 235 | 1012 DL Amsterdam
    +31 (0)20 525 1570

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Gepubliceerd door  Amsterdamse Academische Club