MES 381 • Loyalty/Rebellion in Arab Literature
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This seminar provides students an introduction to Arabic heroic (praise) poetry in translation. Praise poetry survived as a form of art for fifteen centuries in Islamic imperial history. Court poets celebrated the lineage and deeds of great men, thus promoting not only their glory, but a particular ideal of heroism. Poets performed their works in public rituals honoring their patron-hero, who would bestow on the poet a handsome prize. In later generations, poetry lovers would memorize and re-perform heroic poems in late-night salons. This course examines heroic poems from ninth- and tenth-century Iraq in comparison with those from medieval Scandinavia. Students will gain an inter-arts approach to Arabic poetry and explore how verbal aesthetics influenced court architecture and handicrafts. We will closely read traditional poems in translation and ask: How were standards of heroism set? How were heroes made -- and unmade in oral performance? We will dwell on ideals of masculinity and leadership as they evolve and diverge. The course will also emphasize the participation of women and ask: How did they make a name for themselves in this male-dominated system? Graduate students will fulfill course requirements appropriate to their standing, including writing a term paper.
Four Papers 60% Writing exercises 10% Exams 10% Discussion 20%
S. Stetkevych. The Poetics of Islamic Legitimacy: Myth, Gender, and Ceremony in Classical Arabic Ode.