When Nov 10, 2015
from 11:45 AM to 01:00 PM
Where 121 Borland

Resident Scholars and Artists Lecture Series
Hoda El Shakry
Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
Penn State University

Un-Disciplining Maghrebi Literature: Adab and the Question of Literary Ethics

Focusing on the region of the Maghreb—namely, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia—this talk considers the ethical dimensions of how people read, write and interpret texts, while simultaneously troubling the very category of the ‘literary.’ More specically, it examines how 20th century Maghrebi Arabophone and Francophone literature engages with the Qur’an and the apostolic tradition of hadith, in addition to central debates in Islamic exegesis, jurisprudence and philosophy. This conuence of theological and literary discourses renders legible the shared formal as well as ethical concerns of both traditions. To that end, this project engages with the classical tradition of adab—a concept popularized in early Islamic and Arab thought to demarcate both the genre of belles lettres, as well as the moral dimensions of personal and social conduct. In their intertexuality with the material culture and critical scholarship of Islam, these works demonstrate the ethical stakes of literature, as well as the aesthetic dimensions of theological texts and their attendant hermeneutical practices. This talk thus asks: how do ethical concerns translate into an aesthetic or literary lexicon? What does this suggest about the performative dimensions of texts and their reception? For example, can piety be enacted in acts of writing or reading? What is the signicance of the Qur‘an’s aesthetic and literary qualities? Finally, what are the repercussions of these questions for narrative, aesthetic or semiotic theory?

Light lunch at 11:45 a.m. Presentation starts promptly at 12:00 p.m.