Studies in Arabic Poetry

ARABIC 7601: Studies in Arabic Poetry

Advanced study of specific poetic periods, figures, and/or topics involving extensive reading and discussion of appropriate primary and secondary source materials.

Sample Topic (1): Umayyad poetry. This topic provides advanced students in Arabic an opportunity for serious and detailed examination of poetical texts from the Umayyad age (661-750) -- the crucial transitional period between "classical" Arabic poetry and the largely urban and court poetry of the imperial cAbbasid age. Through close reading of a number of texts and consultation of major secondary sources, students become acquainted with a range of poets, genres, and critical questions, as well as with the historical and cultural context that gave rise to them. In addition, students advance their ability to deal with complex Arabic linguistic problems and gain greater familiarity in sources dealing with these problems. Primary emphasis is on analysis and discussion of the assigned poetical texts as verbal art, and students develop a relatively efficient way of perceiving and understanding the structure, style, and effectiveness of these poems. Students prepare, with a reasonable degree of completeness and accuracy, all assigned texts by the day they are to be discussed. Midway through the course each student, in consultation with the professor, selects a poem that is assigned to the class and dealt with on a designated class date in a discussion which that student directs. In addition, the student submits a complete, annotated translation of the selected poem, with an accompanying interpretive study (due by the last week of class). There is a final exam (assigned at the last class meeting and due on the day scheduled for the final) consisting of a single essay question and a small number of short poetical texts, both seen and unseen previously, for translation and brief discussion.

Sample Topic (2): Neoclassical Arabic Poetry. This topic provides students with an opportunity to study critically, discuss thoroughly, and appreciate perceptively the structural, stylistic, and cultural features that characterized the neoclassical poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries. Through close reading of several representative original texts, consultation of major secondary sources, and the application of selected literary criticism, students develop a capacity for the analytical exploration of neoclassical Arabic poetry not only as part of a cumulative legacy, but also as social, aesthetic and psychic events. In addition, students increase their competence in dealing with complex Arabic linguistic problems in poetical texts. Assigned texts are prepared for discussion in class. Two poems are selected by students, in consultation with the instructor, for translation, critical analysis, and presentation during the quarter. One research paper is prepared and presented in class demonstrating how any two of the neoclassical poets managed to combine a return to the purity of diction, forceful statement, and the classicism of the cAbbasids, with the ability to express their individual experiences in terms of their contemporary environments.      

Prereq: 6 cr hrs of Arabic Literature at the 5000 level or equiv. Repeatable to a maximum of 9 cr hrs.
Credit Hours