Ethel Wolper

Phone: (603) 862-3884
Office: History, Horton Social Science Center Rm 402, Durham, NH 03824

Ethel Sara Wolper is a cultural historian of the medieval and early modern Islamic world. She earned her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Chicago, where she designed a program on public policy and the arts. She earned a Ph.D. in Islamic Art from the University of California in Los Angeles. At UNH, Wolper teaches courses on the history of Islam and the Middle East, Sufism, Cities in crisis, Islam in America, and Islamic Art. Wolper has held fellowships from the Fulbright-Hays program, the American Association of University Women, the Center for Advanced Study at the National Gallery of Art, the Mellon Foundation at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University and the National Humanities Center. At UNH, she served as director of the UNH in London program. Wolper is the author of Cities and Saints: Sufism and the Transformation of Urban Space in Medieval Anatolia (Penn State University Press, 2003), and an editor with Daphna Ephrat and Paulo Pinto of Saintly Spheres and Islamic Landscapes: Emplacements of Spiritual Power across Time and Space (Brill, 2021) She has published articles in Muqarnas, Mesegios, Muslim World, and Medieval Encounters. She has contributed chapters and entries to The Art Museum (Phaidon, 2010), Women in Islamic Culture, and the Readers Guide to Gay and Lesbian Studies. Wolper's current research focuses on the politics of heritage conservation in destroyed cities of the Islamic world. She is the lead on the remembering Mosul project (


  • Ph.D., Art History,Criticism&Conserv., University of California - Los Angeles
  • M.A., Art History,Criticism&Conserv., University of Chicago
  • B.A., PublicRelationsAdvertAppldComm, University of Chicago

Research Interests

  • Cultural heritage and sustainability
  • Heritage & Cultural Conservation
  • History of Islam
  • History of Islamic art
  • History of the Middle East
  • Material Culture
  • Sociocultural anthropology: heritage

Courses Taught

  • HIST 425: Top/Islamic Cultr & Civiliztn
  • HIST 440F: Honors/Islam, Art, & the Past
  • HIST 500: Intro to Historical Thinking
  • HIST 585: Medieval Islam
  • HIST 586: Islam in the Modern Age
  • HIST 600/800: Expl/Marco Polo - Drug Trade
  • HIST 797: Coll/Cities in Crisis
  • HIST 797/897: Colloquium/ Cities in History
  • HUMA 511A: Medieval World (The Crusades)
  • HUMA 513A: Global Humanities

Selected Publications

Ephrat, D., Wolper, E. S., & Pinto, P. (2020). Saintly Spheres and Islamic Landscapes Emplacements of Spiritual Power Across Time and Place.

Wolper, E. S. (2020). Imaret. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 62-66. Retrieved from

Wolper, E. S. (2017). Shrines of the Hebrew Prophets and the Architecture of Religious Communities in Medieval Iraq. In Synagogues in the Islamic World Architecture, Design and Identity.

Wolper, E. S. (2015). Khidr and the Politics of Translation in Mosul: Mar Behnam, St George and Khidr Ilyas. In Sacred Precincts (pp. 377-392). doi:10.1163/9789004280229_022

Wolper, E. S. (2015). Khidr and the Politics of Translation in Mosul Mar Behnam, St George and Khidr Ilyas. In SACRED PRECINCTS: THE RELIGIOUS ARCHITECTURE OF NON-MUSLIM COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE ISLAMIC WORLD (Vol. 3, pp. 379-392). doi:10.1163/9789004280229_022

Wolper, E. S. (2014). Islamic Architecture and Institutions in the Late Medieval City. History Compass, 12(12), 912-923. doi:10.1111/hic3.12204

Wolper, E. S. (2013). Khidr and the Politics of Place: Creating Landscapes of Continuity. In Cormack (Ed.), Muslims and Others in Sacred Space. Oxford University Press.

Wolper, E. S. (2013). Khidr and the Language of Conversion: Creating Landscapes of Discontinuity. In Shankland (Ed.), Archaeology, anthropology, and heritage in the Balkans and Anatolia the life and times of F.W. Hasluck, 1878-1920.

Wolper, E. S. (2011). Islamic Art. In fortenberry, (Ed.), The Art Museum. Phaidon.

Wolper, E. S. (2000). Khidr, Elwan Celebi and the conversion of sacred sanctuaries in Anatolia. MUSLIM WORLD, 90(3-4), 309-322. doi:10.1111/j.1478-1913.2000.tb03693.x

Most Cited Publications