Ph.D., 2006, University of Pennsylvania
David Hollenberg's research investigates how communities of believers apply narrative, doctrine, and ritual to form and maintain communal identity and differentiate themselves from those outside their group. He applies such questions to research on medieval Islam in general, and Ismaili and Nusayri Shiism in particular.
In 2019, Hollenberg and co-PI Professor Mushegh Asatryan (University of Calgary) received a $130,000 3-year National Endowment for the Humanities Scholarly Editions and Translations grant to publish the first critical edition and translation of Manhaj al-‘ilm wa l-bayan wa-nuzhat al-sama’ wa l-‘iyan (The Method of Knowledge and Clarification and the Pleasure of Auditing and Witnessing), a doctrinal treatise by the Nusayri author Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ‘Iṣmat al-Dawla (d. ca. 1050). When complete, this source will represent the longest (420 pages) and most substantial Nusayri source published to date, and will allow for research into generations of proto-Nusayri and Nusayri esoteric study circles between the 8th and 11th centuries in Iraq, Egypt and Syria. This grant will result in the publication of two volumes: an Arabic critical edition and introduction to the source, and selected translations and an introduction to key sections of it to introduce educated readers to the world of Nusayri Shiism.
In 2021, Hollenberg and Hanan Elsherif received an Open Oregon Resource Center (ORC) Grant to direct a small team to develop a new first-year Arabic online textbook that will be made freely available to all students in the state of Oregon. This textbook will be the first free virtual online textbook with audio visual materials devoted primarily to Egyptian Arabic while also providing the foundation for Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). It will be completed and shared with other Oregon institutions by the fall of 2023.
Hollenberg's recent publications include “Anta ana wa-ana minka (“You are me, and I am from you”): A quasi-Nuṣayrī fragment on the intellect in the early Ismā⁽īlī treatise Kitāb ta⁾wīl ḥurūf al-mu⁽jam,” in Mind, Body and Soul, a Festschrift honoring our doktorvater, Everett Rowson, (Brill, 2017), “Manuscripts destruction and looting in Yemen: A status report,” Co-written with Anne Regourde, in Chroniques yéménites, Sanaa/Paris (June 2016), Beyond the Qur'an; Ismaili ta'wil and the Secrets of the Prophets (University of South Carolina Press, 2016). The Yemeni Manuscript Tradition (Brill, 2015; editor with co-editors Sabine Schmidtke and Christopher Rauch).
In addition to his research, Hollenberg has worked with non-governmental, non-profit institutes for the preservation of Yemeni manuscripts. He is the founder of the Yemen Manuscripts Digitization Initiative (ymdi.uoregon.edu). YMDI is devoted to preserving the manuscripts of Yemen which are currently threatened by the war. Under his direction,YMDI received a $330,000 National Endowment for the Humanitites/Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grant on behalf of Princeton University Library and Free University, Berlin, to digitize and disseminate 267 codices in private libraries in Yemen and from the collections at Princeton University Library and the Staadtsbibliothek, Berlin.
Hollenberg was recently named a Senior Research Fellow of the University of Oregon's UNESCO Crossings Institute (https://unesco.uoregon.edu/staff). He is using this platform to provide a forum for Yemeni journalists and citizens to post reliable first-person reporting on the current situation there.