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Thursday
10
MAY

Approaches to the Study of Pre-modern Arabic Anthologies

12:00
17:00

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Approaches to the Study of Pre-modern Arabic Anthologies

A conference Organized by Abdulrahim Abu-Husayn and Bilal Orfali

May 10 will be held in Collage Hall B1 at AUB
May 11 and 12 will be held in Bristol Hotel


Literary anthology is a general category of adab that encompasses a range of compilations which enjoyed tremendous popularity in Arabic literature probably like no other literature of the world. This general category is divided into several subcategories such as anthologies concerned with form. encyclopedic anthologies, theme and motif anthologies, anthologies based on comparisons, mono-thematic anthologies (e.g. works that discuss the theme of love, wine, condolences, travel and al-ḥanīn ila l-awṭān, gray hair, pairing praise and blame of various things), geographical anthologies, musical anthologies, anthologies concerned with figures of speech, chronological biographical anthologies, and anthologies devoted to the works of one poet.

The aim of this conference is to raise and discuss questions about the different approaches to the study of pre-modern Arabic anthologies. What are the reasons behind the popularity of this type of writing in Arabic literature? And, more importantly, what are the functions of a literary anthology? Can literary anthologies be studied as original works that possess a structure and an agenda in their own right, despite drawing from a fixed repertoire of texts? How does the choice of material reveal the individual interests of the compiler? Can the literary selections in an anthology be used in (re)constructing the author’s literary theory? Studies that tackle the internal logic and coherence of a work, to wit, the ways in which entries are organized, the elements frequently encountered, and the author’s skills in compiling, arranging, and commenting on the akhbār, are most welcome.

Such exemplary texts not only reflect a dominant ideology, but contribute towards the dominant discourse by shaping, selecting, and confirming cultural constructs governing mental and social life. What is the potential of these sources for historians? What are the particular caveats and concerns when analyzing such compilations? The omissions and inclusions, the forms, connotations and silences of the text, can be used to discover how experience was formulated and how priorities were arranged. What sort of thinking does the text want to produce in order to establish or maintain certain authorities and structures? What possibilities of thinking are excluded from this text? What does it keep from sight?

Finally, examining the sources of a preserved text is vital to a precise understanding of that text, its significance, and the culture in which it emerged. The conference welcomes contributions concerned with the study of oral, aural, and written sources of a certain work as well as the reasons and significance of the choice of these sources.

Day I: May 10

12:00 – 13:00 Registration

14:00 – 14:30 Opening Remarks
(Dean Nadia Cheikh, Abdulrahim Abu-Husayn, Bilal Orfali)

14:30 – 16:00 Panel I Emotions

On death and dying: Ibn Abī al-Dunyā’s Dhikr al-mawt
Lyall Armstrong - American University of Beirut

Men, Women and Emotions in al-Isfahani’s al-Imaʾ al-shawā‘ir
Karen Moukheiber - University of Balamand

An Anthology of Love Martyrs: Ibn al-Sarrāj’s Maṣāriʿ al-‘Ushshāq
Vahid Behmardi – Lebanese American University
16:00 – 16:30 Lunch


16:00 – 17:30 Panel II Pleasure

A Study in Social Codicology: Reflections on Manuscript #144 and the Social Life of Kunnāš al-Ḥāʾik
Carl Davila - The College at Brockport, State University of New York

The Encyclopedia of Pleasure: a Ẓarīf’s Guide to the Bedroom Sciences.
Jeremy Kurzyniec - Yale University


Day II: May 11

9:30 – 11:00 Panel III Faith and Education

The Qurʾān’s profane ‘Annex’: The Early Anthologies of Arabic Poetry
Ghassan El Masri - Freie Universität-Berlin

Anthologies as educational Tools in the Ṭayyibī Ismāʿīlī tradition
Samer Traboulsi - University of North Carolina

Educating for the sake of equilibrium: Ibn Qutayba’s (d. 276/889) ῾Uyūn al-Akhbār as an intellectual tool for moderating ῾religion᾽
Hans-Peter Pökel - Orient-Institute Beirut

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 12:30 Panel IV This is not a Tale

Narrating Madness in the ʿUqalāʾ al-Majānīn of al-Nīsābūrī
Maurice Pomerantz - New York University (Abu Dhabi)

Commentary as Anthology: Al-Sharīshī’s Commentary on al-Ḥarīrī’s Maqāmāt
Matthew L. Keegan - American University of Sharjah


14:00 – 15:30 Panel V Poetry

There is Only the Anthology
Adam Talib - Durham University

Towards a reconstruction of Abū Naṣr al-Bāhilī’s K. Abyāt al-maʿānī
David Larsen - New York University

An Anthology within an Anthology: Poetry in Sufi Manuals
Bilal Orfali – American University of Beirut

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:00 Keynote Speech I:

الأنثولوجيا المعجميّة: حقائقُ لم يتنبّه لها الدارسون
Ramzi Baalbaki - American University of Beirut

Day III May 12


09:00 – 10:30 Panel VI Compilation, Authorship, and Readership (Part I)

The Anthologist as Other Authors’ Double
Boutheina Khaldi - American University of Sharjah

The Miniaturization of the World in Medieval Adab Anthologies
Enass Khansa – American University of Beirut

A personalized anthology: Usāma b. Munqidh’s al-Manāzil wa-l-Diyār
Rana Siblini - Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 – 12:30 Panel VII Compilation, Authorship, and Readership (Part II)

Compiling and ordering the jewels of adab - the Unique Necklace by Ibn ʿAbd Rabbih
Isabel Toral-Niehoff- Freie University of Berlin

Republic of Letters: Personal Literary Anthologies in Arabic in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire
Himmet Taskomur – Harvard University

Literary Splendor with the Hafiz of the West: Ibn 'Abd al-Barr's Bahjat al-Majalis
Faisal Matadar - Georgetown University

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch Break

14:00 – 16:00 Panel VIII Geography

Localism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Contrasting Natures of Biographical Writing in Bilād al-Shām
Tarek Abu Hussein - Harvard University

Professional and Ideological Dimensions of Geographical Anthologies, from al-Thaʿālibī to ʿImād al-Dīn al-Iṣfahānī
Nathaniel A. Miller - University of Cambridge

Anthologizing Animosity: al-Khafājī’s Rayḥānat al-alibbā and the Polemics of Arabic Literary History
Ghayde Ghraowi – New York University

The Faḍāʾil of Jerusalem works as Anthologies
Suleiman A. Mourad – Smith College / The Nantes Institute for Advanced Study

16:00 – 17:00 Keynote Speech II:

Indian Wisdom in Kalīla wa-Dimna
Beatrice Gruendler – Freie University of Berlin