Adab as an Interdisciplinary Pursuit

Adab as an Interdisciplinary Pursuit

April 13th-15th, 2017

Thurs, April 13th
Butler 523

Fri, April 14th
Kent 413  

Sat, April 15th
Butler 523

In Arabic, adab encompasses multiple fields of knowledge, resisting compartmentalization and circumscription. Adab points to both our modern sense of literature, as well as a much longer prose heritage attesting modes of proper comportment, courtly edification, and eloquence, cultivated through embodied, contingent ways of living with the authority and fragility of oral and written texts in Arabic over time. In retrospect, we could narrate a disciplinary porosity in Arabic giving way in the modern period to the disciplines we think within and between.  Adab occupies a privileged position in these epistemic shifts, interleaved with its sometimes-antagonists -- ‘ilm, shi‘r, din, tasliyah (to mention but a few) -- even as the meanings and practices of adab themselves change over time.  

We ask: How do authors and readers inhabit different discourses and understandings of adab? How is textual authority in Arabic generated through competing disciplinary senses of interpretation and citation? How does this all relate to literary form? And when isn’t it adab anymore?

Join us for a special roundtable on “Adab and the Contemporary Arab Press,” with distinguished Arab journalists working in Arabic and English in Europe and the Middle East. The roundtable will focus on how the category of adab is contested, claimed, attenuated, and/or celebrated in our time by the Arab cultural press.

Adab as an Interdisciplinary Pursuit was organized by Muhsin J. al-Musawi and co-organized by Tarek El-Ariss, Nizar F. Hermes, Elizabeth Holt and Mohammad Salama.






Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia

University Seminars - Arabic Studies


Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies


The Middle East Institute

Columbia Libraries

Brill Academic Publishers