COMP 262
Outlaws and Underworlds: Arabic Literature of the Margins
Last Offered Spring 2008
Division I Writing Skills
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

The idea of the rogue or the outlaw is a theme that may be traced in Arabic literature from the classical poetry of the pre-Islamic period through to the present. In considering a range of works from the 6th century onward, this course will explore the way in which the outlaw has historically been used as a literary motif in Arabic literature to reflect and critique, not just society, but the official literary establishment as well. How does a writer’s language–the decision to write in the vernacular, for example–serve as a way of flouting the cultural establishment in an effort to speak to a more popular audience? In examining characters who live by thievery or begging–who embrace the ethos of outsiderness–we will return repeatedly to consider the concept of freedom as a driving question in these works. Between conformity and deviance, decadence and lack, how do we define what makes a person truly free? The rich underworlds that these outlaws inhabit are sketched for readers as counter-cultures whose alternative way of life and set of values continually challenges the conventions and mores of the mainstream. Readings will include selections from early Arabic (Suluk) poems, Abu Nuwas’ wine poetry, the maqamat tradition of rhymed prose, as well as a number of contemporary Arabic novels.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3239
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation, multiple reading responses, two short papers (5-7 pages) including revisions, and one longer paper (8-10 pages)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first-years and sophomores
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Attributes: INST Middle Eastern Studies Electives

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