Commitment and Dissent in Arabic Literature since the 1950s
27 - 29 June 2013
University of Marbug, Germany
As the ongoing popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa challenge traditional paradigms for understanding the region’s politics and culture, this workshop strives to return to the conceptual beginnings of literary commitment in the Arab world.
In the highly politicized period of the 1950s, Jean Paul Sartre’s concept of littérature engagée was appropriated by Arab intellectuals through its translation as iltizām (engagement/commitment) which served as the benchmark for literary production in the subsequent period.
Looking at commitment and dissent in literature from a conceptual perspective as well as historically and by way of case studies, the workshop traces notions of political agency, dissent, and opposition in Arabic literature at the heyday of political ideologies and literary engagement during the 1950s and early 1960s, in postmodern approaches and in recent revolutionary contexts. It questions popular notions about the changing role of literature and the intellectual in society since the 1950s.
The workshop will provide theoretical lectures and empirical case studies hoping to engage a discussion both on established terminologies and historizations / periodizations of Arab literary engagement. In a roundtable discussion, the workshop’s overarching focus of commitment and dissent in literature will be expanded by looking at contemporary art to gain a comparative interdisciplinary perspective.
The workshop is a follow-up of the workshop The Middle East from Below – Dynamics of Subversion hosted at Marburg University in December 2011 and forms another part of a series of workshops that will be organized by our interdisciplinary research group over the coming years.
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