Voice and Power: Ḥafṣah bint al-Ḥājj and the Poetics of Women in Al-Andalus

In: Journal of Arabic Literature
Majd Al-Mallah Grand Valley State University

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This paper examines the poetry of the Andalusī woman poet Ḥafṣah bint al-Ḥājj (d. 589/1191) in the context of a rich body of anecdotes surrounding that poetry as preserved in Nafḥ al-ṭīb, which al-Maqqarī (d. 1041/1632) wrote to preserve the cultural memory of al-Andalus. Known as the preeminent woman poet of Granada in the twelfth century, she lived most of her life under Almohad rule and had a connection to their court. Although literature surrounding Ḥafṣah is generally limited compared to major male poets, this paper will show that a close analysis of al-Maqqarī’s section on Ḥafṣah reveals the poet’s voice and agency. This paper argues that al-Maqqarī’s framing of Ḥafṣah in his landmark work elevates rather than marginalizes the poet and her status as a cultural figure in al-Andalus.

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