Near Eastern Languages and Cultures | Topics in Arabic Literature: Poetry and Empire: The Arabic Ode
N701 | 21161 | Stetkevych, Suzanne


Throughout the 1500 years of recorded Arabic poetry, the ode has been
used to confer, deny, negotiate, and compete for legitimate rule.
Poetry and Empire will begin by examining the roots of the
Arab–Islamic tradition in the royal and tribal odes of pre-Islamic
Arabia as bearers of ancient Near Eastern concepts of mythic, divinely
appointed kingship and legitimate rule. We will then look at the
Islamization of the ancient ode to confer legitimacy upon and declare
allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad and the nascent Islamic state. The
next two units of the course will look at the courtly ode as a means
for negotiating, conferring, and denying imperial authority to caliphs
and princes to rule the Islamic Ummah (community) in the early
Islamic, Umayyad, and Abbasid periods—and further, with the increasing
fragmentation of the Arab empire, for expressing rival claims to the
caliphate of the Fatimids in Egypt and the Umayyads and their
successor states in al-Andalus. The final unit will turn to the period
of European imperialism in the Arab world (19th–20th centuries), when
the neoclassical and modern schools employed poetry as a
counter-imperial and anti-imperial tool to convey the humanistic
ideals of the Arab Nahdah (Renaissance) and to call for freedom from
foreign occupation and domination.