Professor Maurice A. Pomerantz
LITCW-AD/ARAB Crossroads
Spring 2016: 4.0 Credit Hours
Office: 1129
phone: 85290
Office hours: Tues. 4-5 or by appointment


Long before pop songs extolled the “power of love,” or warned that “love is a battlefield,” poets and writers around the world wanted to “know what love is.” This course will explore the multiple contours of thinking about love within a variety of texts from across the pre-modern Islamic world and the Mediterranean from 600-1500 C.E. The three genres that will be of primary interest for the course will be: lyric poetry, allegorical epics, and comic stories and tales. Major texts will include: Umayyad and Abbasid ghazal poetry, Arabic muwashshaḥāt from al-Andalus, troubadour cansos, Petrarchan sonnets, The Roman de la Rose of Guillaume de Lorris (d. 1240), The Conference of the Birds of ‘Attār (d. 1221), The Book of Good Love of Juan Ruiz (d. 1350), and the Masnavī of Rūmī (d. 1273).

Learning Outcomes:

Students will refine critical thinking and reading skills helpful for the LITCW and Arab Crossroads programs; perform close textual analysis; produce competent analytical essays; understand relations of text to context; and make connections among a variety of genres, periods, and cultural contexts.

Teaching and Learning Methodologies

This course is structured as a seminar, which will require students to read the texts under consideration with care and attention. Students should come to each class prepared not only to discuss the text, but also to raise important questions that they believe are essential to understanding and analysis. Students will be required to write three essays during the course of the semester that will improve skills in the explication of literary texts. The class will make use of a website that is designed by the instructor that will provide some of the readings as well as links to other supplementary materials.

Required Texts

Attar, The Conference of the Birds, trans. Dick Davis (London: Penguin, 2011).
Chretien de Troyes, Yvain, trans. Ruth Harwood Cline (University of Georgia Press, 1990). Reprint.
Geert Van Gelder, Classical Arabic Literature, an Anthology (New York: New York University Press, 2013).
Robert Irwin, Night and Horses and the Desert (New York: Overlook Press, 1999).
Robert Kehew (ed.), The Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
The Romance of the Rose, trans. Frances Horgan (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1994)


1.) Class participation (10%): This course is a seminar, a format that depends for success upon vigorous and thoughtful discussion from all participants.

2.) Short Responses (10%) As Assigned. The night before class (prior to 12 midnight) you will submit to the instructor a reflection on the next day’s reading of approximately 500-600 words.

3.) Presentations (10%) As Assigned. Over the course of the semester you will be responsible two times for beginning our class discussion: you will introduce the texts and their key ideas, offer around 5 guiding questions for our seminar conversation, and lead the discussion for about 10-15 minutes. Think aloud and help us engage with your ideas.

4.) 2 Papers (2 x 20%=40%): (5-7 pages each)

Paper 1
 Due Thursday, March 9 in class.
Paper 2
Due Tuesday, May 2 in class

5.) In-class Exam.(40%) Thursday May 11, 2017. Identifications and Essay Questions

Classroom Etiquette and Expectations:

Punctuality is mandatory: late admittance to the classroom will not be permitted. Attendance will be taken at each class. Please inform me beforehand if for any reason you are unable to attend. More than three absences may result in a failing grade for the course. Except for necessary use during critical exercises or student presentations, all electronic devices must remain silent and out of sight during the class period.

Academic Integrity NYU Abu Dhabi expects its students to adhere to the highest possible standards of scholarship and academic conduct. Students should be aware that engaging in behaviors that violate the standards of academic integrity will be subject to review and may face the imposition of penalties in accordance with the procedures set out in the NYUAD policy.


Introduction and Review of the Syllabus <2017-01-24 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Unit 1: Lyrics of Love

Class 2: Songs of Love and War: Pre-Islamic and Early Umayyad Ghazal

<2017-01-26 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Van Gelder, CAL, 3-11, 21-33
Irwin, pp. 1-67.
Jonathan Culler, Theory of the Lyric, “An Inductive Approach.”

Class 3: Abbasid Ghazal and the Culture of Love in the Islamic Court

s <2017-01-31 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Van Gelder, CAL, 37-50.
Irwin, pp. 68-147.

Class 4: Consorts of the Caliphs and the Language of ‘Ishq

<2017-02-02 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Class 5: New Songs from the Gardens of al-Andalus

<2017-02-07 Tue 14:40-15:55>

<2017-02-09 Thu 14:40-15:55> No Class

Class 7: Strophic Poetry: Arabic and Hebrew

<2017-02-14 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Class 8: A Love Supreme: Sufi Lyrics

<2017-02-16 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Class 9: Troubadors and the Fin’ Amor

<2017-02-21 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Class 10: The Art of Courtly Love Reconsidered

<2017-02-23 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Class 11: Troubadors and the Trobairitz and Romantic Love

<2017-02-28 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Class 12: Dante, The Inferno, Canto 5; and Petrarch: Selections from the Canzioniere

<2017-03-02 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Class 13: Religion of Love in the Persian Tradition

<2017-03-07 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Dick Davis, Hafez: Faces of Love
Read the introduction by Davis, and read first ten poems of Hafiz and the first ten of Jahan Malek Khatun.

Unit Two: Allegories of Love

Class 14: Attar’s Conference of the Birds

<2017-03-09 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Attar, The Conference of the Birds, introduction and 1-86.


Class 15: Attar’s Conference of the Birds

<2017-03-28 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Class 16: Nizami: Haft Paykar

<2017-03-30 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Class 17: Chretien de Troyes, Yvain

<2017-04-04 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Chretien de Troyes, Yvain, 1-100.

Class 18: Yvain (cont.)

<2017-04-06 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Chretien de Troyes, Yvain, 100-193.

Class 19: The Romance of the Rose

<2017-04-11 Tue 14:40-15:55>

The Romance of the Rose, trans. Horgan

Class 20: The Romance of the Rose

<2017-04-13 Thu 14:40-15:55>

The Romance of the Rose, trans. Horgan (cont.)

Unit 3: Love, Actually? Comic and Serious Tales of Love Lost and Found

Class 21: Song Books and Stories

<2017-04-18 Thu 14:40-15:55>

Van Gelder, CAL, 127-165.“The Unhappy Love Story of Qays and Lubna”
Arabian Nights, “Frame Tale”

Class 22: Juan Ruiz, The Book of Good Love

<2017-04-20 Tue 14:40-15:55>

2 ## Class 23: Juan Ruiz, The Book of Good Love ## <2017-04-25 Tue 14:40-15:55>

Class 25: Fabliaux and Boccaccio

<2017-04-27 Thursday 14:40-15:55>

Class 26: Chaucer

<2017-05-02 Tuesday 14:40-15:55> Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale

Class 27: Chaucer

<2017-05-03 Wednesday 1-1:30>

Class 28: Rumi Masnavi

<2017-05-09> Tue 14:40-15:55>

Frank Lewis on Rumi ## Class 29: Rumi Masnavi Continued ## <2017-05-11> Thu 14:40-15:55>

Rumi, The Masnavi, trans. Mojaddidi selections.

Further Readings

Sufism Texts and Studies


L. Massignon, “al-Hallādj” Encyclopaedia of Islam Second Edition. Brill Online.

For the complete Arabic text of al-Ḥallāj’s works

cc#### al-Niffārī A.J. Arberry, “al-Niffārī”Encyclopaedia of Islam Second Edition. Brill Online.

Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240)

Ibn al-ʿArabī, The Interpreter of Desires, ed. R.A. Nicholson

Ibn ʿArabī Society

S. Shaikh, Sufi Narratives of Intimacy Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012 chapter 2 NB: The whole of Sufi Narratives of Intimacy is available on Project Muse

S. Ates, “Ibn al-ʿArabī” EI2 Brill Online

Biological Theories

Helen Fischer, “Love is like cocaine” Nautilus 45


Poetic Reimaginings: The Kharja

Yuri Herrera, Signs Preceding the End of the World reviewed in the Guardian by Maya Jaggi

Modern Recreations of Andalusi Music: Discographies

Dwight Reynolds (2009) The Re-creation of Medieval Arabo-Andalusian Music in Modern Performance, Al-Masāq, 21:2, 175-189

Kay Campbell, “Listening for al-Andalus” Saudi Aramco World 62 (2011): 34-41

Troubador Poetry

Occitan resources at the University of Tennesee