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Abstract

This article takes part in the recent project of reevaluating the place, role, and importance of different forms of engagement with Arabic and Arabic manuscripts in seventeenth-century Spain, and more broadly in Europe, by focusing on a single institution—the royal library of San Lorenzo of the Escorial. I examine if, and how, the Escorial fits within the new narrative of the history of Arabic in seventeenth- century Spain. Did the presence of an exceptionally sizeable collection of Arabic texts facilitate, hinder, or have no effect on the new Orientalism of the seventeenth century? More specifically, the article explores four questions: (1) What did Spanish and European scholars think about the collection of Arabic manuscripts in the Escorial? (2) What did the Hieronymites, the friars in charge of the library, do with its Arabic manuscripts? (3) What did the Hieronymites think about the study of Arabic? and (4) What access to the collection, if any, did Spanish and European scholars have? The answers to these questions suggest that the Escorial became a shrine of Arabic knowledge, to which scholarly pilgrims sought access, and that during seventeenth century Spain preserved its reputation among European orientalists as an important site for the study of Arabic.

In: Philological Encounters

Abstract

This article draws from historical treatises on Arabic grammar, alongside modern theories of untranslatability and translation ethics, to argue for both the practical feasibility and the ethical potential of accounting for the grammatical Arabic dual inflection in English translations of Arabic literature. It considers the dual to possess certain formal qualities—of sound, sense, affective impact, and ontological significance—that require a correspondingly material and embodied mode of engagement from the translator, which is described here with reference to my own published translation of a contemporary Lebanese novel. Ultimately, I propose that such an approach enables new and more ethical ways of reading from an Anglophone audience.

In: Philological Encounters

Abstract

By producing certain types of knowledge and discourse and rendering medieval sources such as Ibn Khaldūn into the terms of that discourse, colonial Orientalists delimited what it was possible to know about both the medieval and modern Maghrib. Concerned with the narrative of the “Arabization” of the Maghrib distilled out of Ibn Khaldūn by colonial scholars, the field of Arabic dialectology attempted to use linguistic research on modern Arabic to buttress this narrative while employing it to categorize its results. This article examines how particular categories such as divisions of “Bedouin” dialects originated through this type of colonial scholarship, and how they have lived on until now as the categories into which current research is fit.

In: Philological Encounters

Abstract

The article traces the transformations in Arabic editorial practices from the mid-19th century through the early decades of the 20th-century. Focusing on the publishing world of Cairo, the article examines some of the major political, cultural and technological conditions that shaped editorial choice and technique. The article explores continuities as well as ruptures with traditional Arabic-Islamic editorial practice, and assesses the impact of 19th-century European philological and historical scholarship. Particular attention is given to examining innovation in editorial practice, textual form, and modes of research over the course of a century.

In: Philological Encounters

Abstract

This article aims to highlight sociolinguistic aspects of an Arabic text from the sixth/twelfth century, its reception, and the commentaries on it. Soon after its publication, the linguistic treatise Durrat al-ghawwāṣ fī awhām al-khawāṣṣ by al-Ḥarīrī (d. 516/1122) became a model for discussing the subject of laḥn (solecism) in Arabic, and remained so throughout the following centuries. Rather than attributing this to fixed practices of premodern commentary culture, the article seeks to explain the scholars’ lively and nuanced engagement with Durrat al-ghawwāṣ by focusing on their identification with the social group of the khāṣṣa, which distinguishes itself through language mastery, and by connecting the interest in linguistic treatises to sociocultural developments in the Arab-Islamic realm during the Mamlūk and Ottoman periods.

In: Philological Encounters
In: Philological Encounters
Poetry, Translation, Chineseness
What makes a Chinese poem “Chinese”? Some call modern Chinese poetry insufficiently Chinese, saying it is so influenced by foreign texts that it has lost the essence of Chinese culture as known in premodern poetry. Yet that argument overlooks how premodern regulated verse was itself created in imitation of foreign poetics. Looking at Bian Zhilin and Yang Lian in the twentieth century alongside medieval Chinese poets such as Wang Wei, Du Fu, and Li Shangyin, The Organization of Distance applies the notions of foreignization and nativization to Chinese poetry to argue that the impression of poetic Chineseness has long been a product of translation, from forces both abroad and in the past.

Perspectives on Contemporary Chinese-language Film Remakes
In Remaking Gender and the Family, Sarah Woodland examines the complexities of Chinese-language cinematic remakes. With a particular focus on how changes in representations of gender and the family between two versions of the same film connect with perceived socio-cultural, political and cinematic values within Chinese society, Woodland explores how source texts are reshaped for their new audiences. In this book, she conducts a comparative analysis of two pairs of intercultural and two pairs of intracultural films, each chapter highlighting a different dimension of remakes, and illustrating how changes in gender representations can highlight not just differences in attitudes towards gender across cultures, but also broader concerns relating to culture, genre, auteurism, politics and temporality.
In Narratives of Kingship in Eurasian Empires, 1300-1800 Richard van Leeuwen analyses representations and constructions of the idea of kingship in fictional texts of various genres, especially belonging to the intermediate layer between popular and official literature. The analysis shows how ideologies of power are embedded in the literary and cultural imagination of societies, their cultural values and conceptualizations of authority. By referring to examples from various empires (Chinese, Indian, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, European) the parallels between literary traditions are laid bare, revealing remarkable common concerns. The process of interaction and transmission are highlighted to illustrate how literature served as a repository for ideological and cultural values transforming power into authority in various imperial environments.
The first monograph published in English on Ihara Saikaku’s fiction, David J. Gundry’s lucid, compelling study examines the tension reflected in key works by Edo-period Japan’s leading writer of ‘floating world’ literature between the official societal hierarchy dictated by the Tokugawa shogunate’s hereditary status-group system and the era’s de facto, fluid, wealth-based social hierarchy. The book’s nuanced, theoretically engaged explorations of Saikaku’s narratives’ uses of irony and parody demonstrate how these often function to undermine their own narrators' intermittent moralizing. Gundry also analyzes these texts’ depiction of the fleeting pleasures of love, sex, wealth and consumerism as Buddhistic object lessons in the illusory nature of phenomenal reality, the mastery of which leads to a sort of enlightenment.