This course will explore the nahdah or Arabic cultural renaissance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by studying the new forms of storytelling and self-representation that became available to writers during this period. We will begin by sampling some of the writings of the so-called age of decline that is supposed to have preceded the nahdah. We will then read, entirely or in part, the memoirs of such figures as Jurji Zaydan, Huda Sharawi, and Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, as well as historical novels, narrative poetry, and European literature in translation, in search of what makes these genres distinctively modern. The course will also consider the ways in which the modernist narrative has inspired various attempts to “modernize,” “purify,” or “defend” the Arabic language itself.
ARBC6615A-L13 Lecture (Cooperson)