CFPanelists - MESA 2019 (New Orleans): On the Margins of Shi’r: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on the Development of Modern Arabic Poetry

Adey Almohsen's picture
Call for Papers
February 8, 2019
Louisiana, United States
Subject Fields: 
Arabic History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Contemporary History, Cultural History / Studies, Literature
On the Margins of Shi’r:
Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on the Development of Modern Arabic Poetry

According to common historical narrative, after early attempts in Baghdad of the 1940s modern Arabic poetry finds its footing with the publication of Shi’r (Poetry) magazine by Yusuf al-Khal in 1957. Certainly, Shi'r had a tremendous influence on the development of modern Arabic poetry; nevertheless, a growing number of scholars are investigating the contributions of other figures and tendencies in breaking with classical prosody and in modernizing the poetic verse. The following proposed MESA two-part panel seeks to develop and nuance this line of research by soliciting papers on marginalized figures in the history of modern Arabic poetry; figures that have not received the same degree of attention as luminaries like Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish, Badr Shaker as-Sayyab, and Nazek al-Malaikah.

The question of poetic modernity arguably begins with the confluence of the revivalist school of Ahmad Shawqi and Mahmoud Sami al-Barudi, the Mahjar schools of North and South America, and the Apollo school/magazine of Ahmad Zaki Abu-Shadi. Fully aware of the contentious nature of such a periodization, our aim is to provoke novel and fruitful exchanges on the historical development of Arabic poetry from the late Nahda years until today (roughly: 1890s - 2000s).

On the margins of poetics a host of figures come to mind; whether marginalized by gender (Sanniyah Saleh and Fadwa Tuqan), ethnicity (the Kurdish Salim Barakat, the Assyrian Sarkun Bulus, and the Berber Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine), linguistic experimentation (Abdellatif Laabi’s Francophone output and Etel Adnan’s English poems), as well as figures who are overlooked despite their involvement with major publications and poetic tendencies (the resistance poetry of ‘Izz ad-Din Manasrah or Fuad Rifqah from Shi’r) or their distinct pioneering efforts in developing free verse poetry (such as the Palestinian Tawfiq Sayigh, the Egyptian Salah ‘Abd as-Sabbur, and the Sudanese Mohammed al-Fituri) – the previous list, it goes without saying is not comprehensive but merely an illustration.

We are particularly interested in papers that not only focus on otherwise marginalized poets, but that also seek to introduce novel intersections between the study of Arabic poetry and other fields of cultural research. We especially welcome papers that elicit intersections between the literary study of poetry and other fields within the humanities, such as history and philosophy.

We are hoping to attract 6-8 presentations for submission to the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans (MESA 2019) as a two-part panel. Those interested in presenting are expected to submit a 400-500 abstract with a tentative title and a brief 1-2-line bio through the attached Google form. Those interested in the topic but instead of presenting would rather discuss or chair a panel can indicate so in the Google form.

Please submit abstract and fill the Google form by: Friday, February 8th, 2019, 4 pm Eastern time.

The panels are organized by Adey Almohsen and Hamad Al-Rayes:
Adey Almohsen is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Minnesota. He currently lives in Vienna with his partner where he writes his dissertation.
Hamad Al-Rayes holds a PhD in Philosophy from Stony Brook University. He currently teaches philosophy to school children in New Orleans through Loyola University’s Philosopher Kids Program.

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