Studies in Arabic Prose

ARABIC 7602: Studies in Arabic Prose

Advanced study of specific periods, authors and/or genres of prose writing (literary or non-literary) involving extensive reading and discussion of primary and secondary materials.

Sample Topic (1): Three Faces of Adab. This topic offers advanced students of Arabic a chance to encounter three important representatives of early adab literature. Adab is a uniquely Arabic form of belletristic prose tending to combine elements of instruction, entertainment, edification, exhortation, and stylistic virtuosity in elucidation or elaboration of a particular theme or set of themes, often from diverse sources (including poetical citations). Through close reading of extensive passages by Ibn al-Muqaffac (d. ca. 759), Ibn Abi ad-Dunya (d. 894), and al-Jahiz (d. 889), students become aware of questions and factors involved in the development of a distinctly "secular," non-scientific Arabic prose style and of three different approaches to adab composition. In addition, students increase their ability to deal competently with complex Arabic linguistic problems and gain much greater familiarity with the many and various sources where aid in dealing with these problems may be sought. Primary emphasis is on accurate understanding and rendition of the Arabic text and perceiving the relationship between stylistic and communicational uses of language. Students are expected to prepare all assigned passages by the day they are discussed with a reasonable degree of completeness and accuracy. Each student, in consultation with the professor, selects a substantial passage or group of passages from one or more of the three authors and prepares a fluent and accurate annotated translation of it to be submitted during 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 small number of relatively short passages from the three authors, both seen and unseen previously. These are to be identified by author, translated, and, where appropriate, annotated.

Sample Topic (2): The Short Stories of Yusuf Idris. A critical study and discussion of selected short stories which represent every stage of Idris's development as a writer of Arabic fiction (1954-70). Through close reading of the texts, limited consultation of secondary sources, and application of selected literary criticism, students develop insights into the relationship between stylistic and communicational uses of language. They also gain greater ability to deal competently with complex Arabic linguistic problems, particularly the mixture of literary and colloquial expressions. Two research papers are to be prepared and presented in class analytically demonstrating how Idris developed a mode of statement quite new to Arabic literary tradition by making full use of colloquial Arabic and how he used the short story as a functional medium to dramatize the need for revolutionary change in Arab society.

Prereq: 6 cr hrs of Arabic Literature at the 5000 level or equiv. Repeatable to a maximum of 12 cr hrs.
Credit Hours