Pre-modern Arabic poetics – Hany Rashwan

Pre-modern Arabic poetics – Hany Rashwan

August 27, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


My name is Hany Rashwan. I am a research fellow
with the Global Literary Theory project, funded by the European Research Council. I lead the
Arabic poetics strand which is centred around Arabic balāghah. Balāghah can be defined
easily as the mainframe of Islamic literary criticism. We think that the more detailed
analysis of balāghah sources in terms of its structure and stylistic approaches can
help us to clarify the relationship between literary criticism and medieval poetic practice.
And thus we can go beyond using Eurocentric literary frames that was originated in a European
analytical discourse. We will try to position this young discipline in conversation with
the European comparative disciplines by integrating different approaches from balāghah into a
theoretical frame to connect the literary criticism in the Islamic world with this European
comparative disciplines. My second line of research is related to khitābah
which can be translated as oral public speech. And it was heavily influenced by the Greek
sense of rhetoric and terms of philosophical and logical argumentation method. Both balāghah
and khitābah, they existed together at the same time, but also they confronted each other
because they have different methodology in analysing the Quranic text. Also, we examine the relation between oral
public speech and its effect on Quranic tafsir, or explanations. My third research area is
to understand how the knowledge of balāghah diffuses from one country to another. This
diffusion also takes place over linguistic borders when the receiving language absorbs
a different stylistic knowledge that is linguistically unrelated but culturally connected via the
transmission of the Quranic text. In terms of my academic research now. I’m
turning my thesis into a book with the American University in Cairo Press. I worked on redefining
the concept of literariness in the ancient Egyptian texts using Arabic balāghah approaches
and traditions. And also I’m co-editing with Professor Rebecca Gould, an edited volume
for the British Academy and Oxford University Press titled ‘Post-Eurocentric Poetics: New
approaches from Arabic, Persian and Turkish literary theory’.