The Emergence of ʿIlm al-Bayān: Classical Arabic Literary Theory in the Arabic East in the 7th/13th Century
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CitationNoy, Avigail. 2016. The Emergence of ʿIlm al-Bayān: Classical Arabic Literary Theory in the Arabic East in the 7th/13th Century. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation identifies a turning point in the development of literary theory as a discipline in the classical Arabic-Islamic world, starting in the Arabic East in the thirteenth century under the emerging framework of ʿilm al-bayān ‘the science of good style’. Treating a range of poetic, rhetorical, and literary-critical matters that had been studied under various disciplinary headings since the ninth century, the discipline was now consciously recognized as having an underlying theory and an established canon. I trace this development beginning with Ḍiyāʾ al-Dīn Ibn al-Athīr (d. 1239) and follow its progression throughout Greater Syria and Egypt as late as the end of the fourteenth century, after the standard theory of rhetoric (ʿilm al-balāgha) emerged within the madrasa institution. I then analyze in depth one test case for literary-theoretical thinking in this time and place, namely, majāz ‘figurative language’. Although linguistic theories about majāz, inspired by Islamic legal theory, had become a hallmark of literary studies, I argue that literary scholars implicitly espoused a non-linguistic conception of the notion, akin to kadhib ‘lie’ (a term not used due to its negative theological connotations). My analysis demonstrates that despite tensions between being a science concerned with hermeneutics and one concerned with poetics, ʿilm al-bayān was essentially the latter.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33840723
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