MES 390 • CLASSICAL ARABIC AKHBAR
5:00 PM-8:00 PM
Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. This course is a colloquium for PhD students with an advanced knowledge of Arabic. It will focus on medieval Arabic narrative and storytelling. In the Arabic literature field today, classical prose narrative (akhbar) has conventionally been studied as a written tradition, often dubbed belles-lettres, evincing a modernist bias toward written modes of literary communication. This course will examine classical Arabic prose from the perspective of the individual Akhbar or story, which was the basic unit of knowledge for all humanities (adab) works, be they history (tarikh), geography (buldan), zoology (hayawan), cosmology (makhluqat(, or anthropology (al-umam wal-nas). We will examine a wide variety of akhbar and the performance venues, such as literary salons (mujalasat) in homes, libraries, monasteries, gardens and courts. Because of this complexity of face-to-face performance aided by written manuscripts, the course will inevitably investigate how the interplay of oral and written modes of literary communication helped to form a new cultural knowledge.
Participation and Presence of Mind 20%, Written Translation of Assignments 20%, 1-2pp Writing Assignments (in Arabic) 30%, Term Paper 15ppp 30%.
Course Packet of articles and primary texts from al-Jahiz, al-Tanukhi, al-Mas'udi, Al-Ya'qubu, al-Qazwini, and al-Baladhuri via Blackboard.