Edgar Francis

Title: Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator
Office: CCC 463


Ph.D., Islamic Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
M.A., Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
B.A., Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University


Middle Eastern History and Islamic Studies


"Islamic Symbols and Sufi Rituals for Protection and Healing: Religion and Magic in the Writings of Ahmad ibn Ali al-Buni (d. 622/1225)."


HIST 101 - World History to 1500
HIST 102 - World History since 1500
HIST 232 - Middle East to 1798
HIST 233 -
Middle East since 1798
HIST 313 - History of Islam
HIST 332 - Women's Issues in the Muslim World
HIST 338 - The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Select Publications

  • Islamic Symbols and Sufi Rituals for Protection and Healing: Religion and Magic in the Writings of Ahmad ibn Ali al-Buni. Chicago: Kazi Publications, 2017.
  • “Magic and Divination in the Medieval Islamic Middle East.” History Compass vol. 9, no. 8 (August 2011). pp. 622–633. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-0542.2011.00781.x
  • “Islamic Magic.” in International Encyclopaedia for the Middle Ages-Online. A Supplement to LexMA-Online. Turnhout: Brepolis Publishers, 2005, in Brepolis Medieval Encyclopaedias. Last updated May 25, 2009.

Works in Progress

  • Magic in the Ottoman World: Belief and Divination in the Early Modern Middle East A Study of Ahmad al-Buni's Shams al-Maarif al-Kubra and its Authorship. Under contract with I.B. Tauris. 

Recent Presentations

  • “How to Study Magic (If You didn’t Get in to Hogwarts): Approaches to Ahmad al-Buni’s “Great Sun of Gnosis.” Part of the William Chaney Lectureship in the Humanities. Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin, February 8, 2018.
  • “Approaching Shams al-maʿārif al-kubrá through Early Manuscripts: MSS. Arabe-2650-51 in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, MI. May 14, 2017.
  • “The Corpus Bunianam and Shams al-maʿārif al-kubrá as Mediterranean Knowledge.” Fall 2016 Mediterranean Seminar “Magic, Medicine, and Technology in the Mediterranean.” Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. Collegeville, MN. November 12, 2016.
  • Roundtable Participant, “Is There a Need for a New Primary Source Reader for the History of Pre-Modern Islamic Civilizations?” Middle East Studies Association annual meeting. Washington, DC. November 24, 2014.

Honors and Awards

  • Fulbright Full Research Grant
  • AIMS (American Institute for Maghrib Studies) Small Grant
  • UW-Stevens Point Sabbatical, 2016-2017
  • 2018 NEH Summer Institute for Higher Education Instructors, "Thresholds of Change: Modernity and Transformation in the Mediterranean, 1400-1700," Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Professional Affiliations

  • Middle East Medievalists (MEM)
  • Middle East Studies Association (MESA)
  • Societas Magica (Treasurer) (Link)
  • Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (Honorary Associate) (LINK)
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