MES 323K • Introduction to Arabic Literature
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
This course is a survey of Arabic literature in translation from the sixth century to the modern period. It will provide students with a foundation to literature in the Arabic language produced by authors who were ethnically Arab, as well as non-Arab (Persian, Turkic, Black, and Greek). Students will encounter sixteen hundred years of poetry, ballads, essays, and stories. We will focus on literature that is both classical and modern, urban and rural, courtly and folk, as well as religious and secular. Students will study Arabic literature within the context of social and artistic discourses. Moreover, there will be an emphasis on oral performance: Literature in Arab society was not only read, it was memorized for public recitation as part of a tradition of ritual performance and storytelling. In this respect, we will examine Arabic oral performances in the context of Homeric epic and Skaldic poetry. Students will gain an understanding of the literary work from an "ethnopoetic" perspective, not as "words on the page," but as "cultural practice" that both reflects and shapes society. No background in Arabo-Islamic culture is required. Graduate students will fulfill course requirements appropriate to their standing.
Two Papers 40% Two Exams 40% Discussion 20%
Sample Texts: Course packet of selected readings Abu-Lughod, Veiled Sentiments; Adonis, An Introduction to Arabic Poetics; Anderson, Imagined Communities; Arberry, Aspects of Islamic Civilization; Bushnaq, Arab folktales; Caton, The Peaks of Yemen I Summon; Haddawy, Arabian Nights; Irwin, Night and Horses and the Desert: An anthology of Classical Arabic Literature; Kritzeck, Anthology of Islamic Literature, from the Rise of Islam to Modern Times; Nagy, Poetry as Performance; S. Stetkevych, Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual.