Solitary Life in the Pre-Modern World: Muslim and Jewish Sources (3 cr)
NELC-N 305 Issues in Middle Eastern Literature
Meets with NELC-N 695
"Going solo," a well-attested and socially accepted trend in contemporary Western society, which prizes individualism, had a radically different value in pre-modern societies. While in the Christian tradition, clerical celibacy and ascetic monasticism provided sanctioned frameworks for some measure of isolation and separation from the mundane, in the strongly communitarian Jewish and Muslim traditions the solitary life had more radical implications. In this course, we will examine texts that discuss the solitary life in its socio-political, psychological, philosophical and religious aspects by medieval Jewish and Muslim authors, such as Alfarabi, Ibn Bajja, Ibn Tufayl, Bahya ibn Paquda, Solomon ibn Gabirol, Maimonides, Ibn Arabi, and the Book of Zohar, among others. A comparative approach, keeping in mind Christianity as the third party, will guide our readings. All texts will be provided in English translation.