William E. B. Sherman (B.A., Stanford University; M.A., University of California, Los Angeles; Ph.D., Stanford University) joined the UNC Charlotte faculty in fall of 2017. His research approaches the history and literature of Muslim societies with a particular focus upon premodern South and Central Asia. His research engages the imagination of language and revelation in premodern Islamic culture. When does language become revelation? And how does the presence of “new” revelation transform the emergence of categories such as tribe, ethnicity, and race in the broader Islamic world? In addition to his interests in the linguistic imagination of Islamic literatures, he also researches and teaches on issues of apocalypticism, hagiography, theory and method in the study of religion, missionary movements in South Asia, and Islam in America.
His current project is provisionally titled Mountains and Messiahs, and it focuses upon a Sufi millenarian movement popular among Afghan communities between Peshawar and Kabul in the 17th century. In narrating this story of a particular Sufi movement, however, this project explores a much larger topic: the ideologies and imaginations of letters, words, and revelation across the late medieval and early modern Islamic world. This project is a multidisciplinary project, connecting Pashto and Persian manuscripts to contemporary literary theory and philosophies of semiosis and subjectivity.