Course Descriptions

01:013:445 Storytelling in the Muslim World

Storytelling is a timeless human activity that is older even than writing
and the Muslim world is home to one of the oldest, richest and most
culturally diverse storytelling traditions in existence. This course will
explore a selection of central texts from this tradition, from medieval
times to the present. We will read classic popular narratives that have
circulated across the Muslim world and interpret them in relation to
enduring questions about power, justice, identity, knowledge and love
(both human and divine). We will also explore some of the ways in which
the Islamic story has passed into European narrative genres and forms in
the modern period.

Why are stories so central to the human imagination? Is there a single set
of narrative structures that is specific to the linguistic and geographic
regions were Islam took root, or are there universal, timeless ways to
tell stories?  How have traditional, pre-modern forms of storytelling been
appropriated and used in the modern era of nation-states and the novel? We
will discuss questions of narrative genre, particularly ‘romance’, as a
way of thinking about the circulation of literary forms across languages,
cultures and national spaces in the past and the present.