MES 390 • ARABIC CULTURE IN SICILY, 652-1189
6:30 PM-8:00 PM
This course is a seminar for graduate students in Arabic. It will focus on the influence of Arabic culture on Sicily, 652-1189. As such, it will enable students to examine a sorely neglected channel for the transfer of Arabo-Islamic humanities into Christian Europe well before the Renaissance. In particular, we will focus on high-profile court ceremonies in Palermo and how court bards used heroic poetry ( madih) to valorize Muslim Arab, as well as Christian Norman kings. Students will therefore (1) learn to read and interpret heroic verse (madih), (2) investigate the transfer of culture across the Mediterranean, and (3) analyze the cultural anthropological dimensions of ceremony. Sicily offers an uncanny comparison with Andalusia since both were wrested from Arab Muslim control by Christian kingdoms, but whereas the Spanish Reconquista was characterized by periods of zealotry, the Normans conquered Sicily and pragmatically accommodated Arab populations and largely preserved Arabic courtly culture. While Arabic is essential for all students, those with an added knowledge of Greek, Latin, French or Italian will be encouraged to pursue research projects using those languages.
Weekly readings of primary and secondary materials in Arabic and English, written and oral presentations, a term paper (15-20pp). Robust Discussion 30% Five Oral Presentations 20% Reaction Papers 10% Term Paper 40%
Ibn al-Qatta', al-Durrah al-Khatirah fi Shu'ara' al-Jazirah Ihsan Abbas, Mu'jam al-'Ulama' wal-Shu'ara' al-Siqiliyin