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The City in Arabic Literature

Classical and Modern Perspectives

Edited by Nizar F. Hermes, Gretchen Head

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Addresses the literary representation and cultural interpretation of the city in Arabic literature

The theme and motif of the city has had an enduring presence in the Arabic-Islamic tradition, from the classical and post-classical literary corpus to modern and post-colonial Arabic poetry and prose. Cities such as Mecca, Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Qayrawan, Marrakesh and Cordoba have served as virtual (battle)grounds for some of the Arab world's most complex intellectual, sociocultural, and political issues. The Arab city has been transformed from a mere physical structure and textual space into an (auto)biographical, novelistic, and poetic arena—often troubled and contested—for debating the encounter, competition and conflict between the rural and the urban, the traditional and the modern, the meditative and the satiric, the individual and the communal, and the Self and Other(s).

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Contents

Editors’ Preface

Chapter 1 The Untranslatability of the Qurʾānic City
by Mohammad Salama

Chapter 2 Local Historians and their Cities: the Urban Topography of al-Azdī’s Mosul and al- Sahmī’s Jurjan
by Harry Munt

Chapter 3 Against Cities: On Hijā’ al-Mudun in Arabic Poetry
by Huda Fakhreddine and Bilal Orfali

Chapter 4 The Literary Geography of Meaning in the Maqāmāt of al-Hamadhānī and al-Hòarīrī
by Sarah R. bin Tyeer

Chapter 5 "Woe is me for Qayrawan!" Ibn Sharaf's Lāmiyya, the Plight of Refugees and the Cityscape
by Nizar F. Hermes

Chapter 6 In Memory of al-Andalus: Using the Elegy to Reimagine the Literary and Literal Geography of Cordoba
by Anna Cruz

Chapter 7 The Mamluk City as Overlapping Personal Networks
by Kelly Tuttle

Chapter 8 Citystruck
by Adam Talib

Chapter 9 Between Utopia and Dystopia in Marrakech
by Gretchen Head

Chapter 10 Revolutionary Cityscapes: Yūsuf Idrīs and the National Imaginary
by Yasmine Ramadan

Chapter 11 Lost Cities, Vanished Worlds: Configurations of Urban Autobiographical Identity in the Arabic Literature of the 1980s
by Valerie Anishchenkova

Chapter 12 The Sufis of Baghdad: A Topographical Index of the City
by Boutheina Khaldi

Chapter 13 Basòrayātha: Self-Portrait as a City
by William Maynard Hutchins

Chapter 14 Of Cities and Canons in an Age of Comparative Consumption
by Hanadi Al-Samman

Chapter 15 Everyday Writing in an Extraordinary City
by Ghenwa Hayek

Chapter 16 Translating Cairo’s Hidden Lines: The City as Visual Text in Magdy El Shafee’s Metro
by Chip Rossetti

 


 

About the Author

Nizar F. Hermes is Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of Virginia. He is author of The [European] Other in Medieval Arabic Literature and Culture, Ninth-Twelfth Century AD (2012).

Gretchen Head is Assistant Professor of Literature in the Humanities Division at Yale-NUS College in Singapore.

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