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Fancy, Nahyan, Ph.D. - Faculty Bio

Fancy, Nahyan, Ph.D.




Personal Website
Harrison Hall, Room 217
Greencastle, IN


Professor of History - on leave

 Research and Teaching Interests

My research interests are in medieval Islamic science and medicine, and medieval Islamic intellectual history. My earlier research has examined the intersections of philosophy, theology and medical physiology in the works of Ibn al-Nafis, a 13th century physician-jurist who first posited the pulmonary transit of blood. The significance of this result is that it forms the basis of William Harvey's (d.  1657) theory of blood circulation, three centuries later. More recently, I have been examining the evolution of medical commentaries in post-1250 Islamic societies, particularly in the context of the changing relationship between medicine and philosophy, on the one hand, and medicine and religion, on the other.

The courses I teach inform and are informed by my research interests, particularly those in the areas of history of science, Islamic intellectual history and Mediterranean exchanges and encounters.

To learn more about my recent work, and to access my publications and videos of presentations, please visit my webpage by clicking on the link below.  


Link to My Webpage


Courses Regularly Taught

HIST 121: Introduction to the Middle East

HIST 122: Modern Middle East

HIST 285: History of Science I: From Antiquity to the Renaissance

HIST 290: History of Science II: The Rise of Modern Science

HIST 300: Science and Medicine in Islamic Societies, 700-1500

HIST 300: Sunnis, Shi‘as and Mystics

HIST 300: Partition & Memory

HIST 358: Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East


Select Publications (for the most updated list please visit my website) 


Science and Religion in Mamluk Egypt: Ibn al-Nafis, Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection (London: Routledge, 2013) 


"Plague and the Fall of Baghdad (1258)" (with Monica H. Green), Medical History 65 (2021): 157–177. 

“Verification and Utility in the Arabic Commentaries on the Canon of Medicine: Examples from the Works of Fakhr al-D n al-R z (d. 1210) and Ibn al-Naf s (d. 1288),” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 75 (2020): 361–382.

"Galen and Ibn al-Naf s," in Brill's Companion to the Reception of Galen, eds Petros Bouras-Vallianatos and Barbara Zipser (Leiden: Brill, 2019), 263–278.

 “Generation in Medieval Islamic Medicine” in Reproduction: Antiquity to the Present Day, eds Nick Hopwood, Rebecca Flemming and Lauren Kassell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 129–140.

 "Anatomy," in 1001 Cures: Contributions in Medicine and Healthcare from Muslim Civilisation, ed. Peter Pormann (Manchester, UK: FSTC, 2018), 42–51. 

 "Medicine and Religious Scholarship," in 1001 Cures: Contributions in Medicine and Healthcare from Muslim Civilisation, ed. Peter Pormann (Manchester, UK: FSTC, 2018), 176–185.

 "Post-Avicennan Physics in the Medical Commentaries of the Mamluk Period," Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 6 (2018): 55–81.

 “Womb Heat versus Sperm Heat: Hippocrates against Galen and Ibn S n in Ibn al-Naf s's Commentaries,” Oriens 45 (2017): 150–175. 

“Post-Classical Medical Commentaries: A Preliminary Examination of Ibn al-Nafis’s Shuruh, the Mujaz and Commentaries on the Mujaz,” Oriens 41 (2013): 525-545.

“The Virtuous Son of the Rational: A Traditionalist’s Response to the Falasifa,” in Avicenna and His Legacy: A Golden Age of Science and Philosophy, ed. Y. Tzvi Langermann (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2009), pp. 219-247.

“Examining the Rate of Renaturation for Different Types of DNA” (with Andrew Mehl), Journal of Chemical Education, 76:5 (1999), pp. 646-648.



Ph.D. (Honors), History and Philosophy of Science/History Track, University of Notre Dame, 2006

M.A., History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, 1999

B.A., magna cum laude, Mathematics and Biochemistry, Knox College, 1997


Awards (For a full list visit my website)


  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Fellowship, 2021–2022. 
  • Al-Qasimi Visiting Professorship in Islamic Studies, Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies, University of Exeter, UK, Fall 2021. 
  • American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), Project Development Grant, Summer 2020. 
  • Edwin L. Minar, Jr. Award for Scholarship (DePauw),  May 2020.  
  • (with Justin Stearns, NYU-Abu Dhabi), Grant for Workshop, New York University-Abu Dhabi Institute, 2019–2020. Workshop Title: "Current Trends in the History of Science in Muslim Societies: Debates, Approaches and Stakes." Workshop Dates: December 11–12, 2019. 
  • Membership at the Institute for Advanced StudyPrinceton, NJ (Fall 2015). 
  • NEH Summer Seminar, 2012: “Health and Disease in the Middle Ages,” London, UK, June 25—July 28, 2012
  • Honorable Mention for Young Scholar Prize, International Union of History and Philosophy of Science, 2009
  • NEH Summer Institute, 2008: “The Medieval Mediterranean and the Origins of the West,” Barcelona, Spain, June 29—July 25, 2008


·   Bruce D. Craig Prize for Mamluk Studies, 2007