The New Austerity in Syrian Poetry
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CitationBehar, Daniel. 2019. The New Austerity in Syrian Poetry. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation relays a history of modern Arabic poetry from the previously unconsidered vantage point of modern Syria. It focuses on a corpus produced by Syrian poets who labored jointly to create lyric idioms both existential and realistic, attuned to urban everyday life, common sentiment, and styles of conversation. In the critical literature, the group is referred to as shafawiyya (orality), suggesting their lyricism’s desire for the vernacular and its attempt to approximate everyday speech in literary Arabic. My study asks what went into the making of this poetic shift. It discusses the Arab precursors who are reshaped to legitimate the new shafawi tradition. It highlights the literary critics who make the low-key movement legible and presents the formative contacts with non-Arab poets who enter Syria in Arabic translation via the cultural metropole in Beirut or the Damascus-based state-sponsored literary venues. My larger comparative claim is that, mutatis mutandis, there is a common sensibility in the shapes poetry takes in response to the choke-hold of the one-party total state. I call these typical measures a mode of austerity and analyze it in relation to the symbolics of everyday political rhetoric with which civil society is inundated and with respect to previous conceptions of poetry pegged as overly estheticized and thus tainted with immoral obfuscation.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029746
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