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Play and Meaning in Pre-Modern Debates over Arabic Poetry and the Qurʾān

Date & Time:
February 28, 2019 | 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Location:
Social Sciences 1015
Speaker:
Rachel Friedman, SLLC, University of Calgary

One of the major trends in classical Arabic poetry was toward highly manneristic verse filled with dazzling wordplay and farfetched metaphor. But does the Qurʾān—the other paragon of literary excellence, according to classical Arabo-Islamic thought—have language play too? If so, what is its role in this most eminently meaningful text? Islamic thought has normatively considered the Qurʾān to be the Islamic miracle par excellence. Tenth-century theologians elaborated the idea that the very linguistic form of the Qurʾān was a key part of the miracle. Much attention has been given to the theological issues embedded in their discussions, but this talk makes the case that Arabic literary discourse brought its own set of concerns to bear on this body of thought. In particular, this talk will link the debate over highly ornate poetry with thought on the Qurʾān’s literary features. Understanding this connection makes clear the ways in which the echoes of classical debates over literary style and meaning became enshrined in Islamic thought.

This event is free and open to the public.

Presented by MARCS: Medieval and Renaissance Cultural Studies Research Group.