REL176: Literature of the Muslim World Fall 2014

There are three major themes of the class: 1) the relationship between religion, culture and literature; 2) the role and significance of narrative to human life in general, and religious traditions in specific; and 3) how to form a meaningful relationship with a text, and through the text with the cultural religious “other”. This a reading and discussion-based class. Throughout the semester we will read closely some of the most seminal 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, cultural and intellectual traditions over the centuries. 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 and conscientiously observe how our personal worlds interact with these texts, and are affected by our reading and engagement with them. We will seek to understand richness of human experience through narrative literature, and narrative through human experience. Our approach to the study of these texts will be literary, intertextual, phenomenological, historical and multi-layered: It entails speaking from within the text, speaking with it, and speaking to/about it as well.