Fall 2013 REL 476 Literary Classics of the Muslim World

This is a reading and discussion-based seminar. Throughout the semester we will closely read some of the most seminal “narrative” texts of the Islamic literary traditions. The shared features of the chosen texts are narrative prose– storytelling plain and simple – rich content, and influence they have exerted in shaping the Islamic literary and intellectual traditions over the centuries. Through a close reading of the literary texts the seminar seeks to understand richness of human experience through narrative-literature, and narrative through human experience. Our approach to the study of these texts will be historical, literary, intertextual, phenomenological and multi-layered: It entails speaking from within the text, speaking with it, and speaking to it as well. We will ask questions about the worldview of the authors (and readers/listeners) of these texts, authorial intention, reception of these texts (the effects of the language and stories upon its speakers and hearers), and consciously observe how our personal worlds interact with these texts and are affected by them. Finally, in view of our study of these texts we will seek to understand the role and significance of narrative for human life in general and religious life in particular.