[P6348] Rhapsody and Revulsion in Arabic

Created by Samuel England
Thursday, 12/02/21 2:00 pm


How do authors and their audiences register the profound sensory effects of a written work? This panel explores the question as it arises at key instances of composition, publication, and performance in Arabic. Moving away from critics’ traditional bias toward the author-text relationship, the studies to be presented here directly address the social, emotional, and physical aspects of an artwork’s delivery to an audience of readers or listeners. Each paper shows the plural nature of literary composition and performance. As a collective, the panelists aim to both evoke moments of experiencing literature in history, and to offer productive criticism of traditional academic views on reading. Historically and modally, “Rhapsody and Revulsion in Arabic” crosses over the Classical-modern divide in Arabic Studies. Panel members move from the recitation and interpretation of provocative Classical poetry in Islamic empires, to the radio broadcast of a landmark Neoclassical poem for ecstatic listeners across the Middle East, to the release of a satirical novel in Mubarak-era Egypt. The paper “Connoisseurship, Voyeurism, and Sexual Violence” argues against high-literary readings of even the most lavishly praised examples of the Classical tradition, showing how performed genres of Arabic also “perform” acts of aggression in text. Two studies of Neoclassical compositions, “Umm Kulthum’s Qasida” and “In Praise of Yachts,” explore the overlap between high-cultural poetic traditions to the sensational aspects of their reception among modern Arab citizens. “Against the ‘Straight’ Path” asks how prose of the late-Ottoman “Arab Renaissance” reverberates, and becomes parodical, when late-20th-century Egyptian authors, publishers, and readers marshal it for their own purposes. Employing distinct but complementary methods, the panelists offer views into the social world of Arabic literary development, with a common goal of reading reception and performance as their own kinds of texts in the tradition.


Lit; Lit



Samuel England

(University of Wisconsin–Madison)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Huda J. Fakhreddine

(University of Pennsylvania)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Emily Drumsta

(University of Texas, Austin)
Emily Drumsta is an Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies and French and Italian Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Adam Talib

(Durham University)
I'm co-editor of the journal Middle Eastern Literatures.
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;