MES 390 • ARABO-ISLAMIC ODE
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
The Arabic ode (qasida) began at the dawn of the Arabic language and ran parallel to the history of Islamic empire building, enduring more than a millennium and a half, being practiced on three continents, and influencing parallel genres in Swahili, Fulfulde, Hausa, Turkish, Kurdish, Urdu, Pashto, Punjabi, Sindhi, and Malay. The impact of this genre on world history counts as unprecedented. Despite the influence of the Arabic ode genre on world literatures, the qasida remains one of the most misunderstood and understudied genres in the West. This seminar is designed for graduate students who have three or more years of Arabic. It will constitute an in-depth study of a world genre. The goal of the seminar will be to perceive and analyze the character, form and function of the genre. The following are the key issues: (1) Composition and Performance: How did a poet (sha'ir) compose a qasida? How did a transmitter (rawi) perform it? What impact did performer-audience interactions have on the text of the ode? (2) Genre and Society: How did poets and transmitters use the practices and norms of the genre to generate meaning? With so much new poetry composed every generation, why did a canon form? How did the ode genre serve the needs of individuals, groups and dynasties? Also, what happened to Arabic epic poetry?
Undergrad: Reading and translating odes in Arabic, discussion of odes and literary theory, reaction papers, oral presentations and three short papers (3-4 pp.). Robust Discussion 30%, Three Oral Presentations 20%, Reaction Papers 10%, Short Papers 40% Graduate: Reading and translating odes in Arabic, discussion of odes and literary theory, reaction papers, oral presentations and term paper. Robust Discussion 30%, Three Oral Presentations 20%, Reaction Papers 10%, Term Paper 40%
Odes from the works of Hassan b. Thabit, Jarir, al-Akhtal, al-Buhturi, and al-Mutanabbi