International bilingual summer school, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, 17–19 October 2019
Mapping the Urban: Cities in Arabic Literature, Culture, and Society
Which role do cities play in Arabic literature, culture, and society? How is urban space represented, negotiated and performed in premodern and modern texts? And how do new theories and methods, like those related to the “spatial turn” and “urban studies”, help us to “map the urban”?
The research projects of the participating PhD students and postdocs showed a variety of topics and approaches related to the study of the city, urban space and urbanity in various research fields, from geographical concepts and imagined geographies in the work of Abū Manṣūr al-Thaʿālibī to scholarly networks between Arab cities in the Ottoman period to ecocriticism and the socio-spatial practice of walking in contemporary Arabic novels. In plenary sessions, the participants of the summer school discussed various approaches based on selected readings from Michel de Certeau’s “The Practice of Everyday Life” (1980), Elizabeth Grosz’s “Bodies-Cities” (1992), Raymond Williams’s “The Country and the City” (1973), “دراسات في تاريخ المدن العربية الإسلامية” (“Studies on the History of Arabic-Islamic Cities”, 2001) by ʿAbd al-Jabbār Nājī and “مظاهر الشعوبية في الأدب العربي حتى القرن الثالث الهجري” (“Phenomena of Ethnicity in Arabic Literature until the 3rd Century AH”, 1961) by Muḥammad Nabīh Ḥijāb as well as selected Arabic sources.
The program was complemented by a keynote lecture by Prof Khalid Ziyadeh (Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Beirut) on the topic of “المدينة العربية والحداثة” (“The Arab City and Modernity”) and a guest lecture by Prof Simone Sibilio (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) titled “Reverberating Claims of History, Echoes of the Siege, and Meditations on Homesickness: Exploring Three Different Textual Approaches to the City”.
In addition to the organizers of the summer school, four professors acted as mentors to the junior scholars: Shereen Abou El-Naga (Cairo University), Antonella Ghersetti (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice), Boutheina Khaldi (American University of Sharjah) und Adam Talib (Durham University). The summer school’s activities were supported and evaluated by experts in conversation linguistics and didactics of Arabic, Afaf Nash (University of California, Los Angeles) and Alaa Elgibali (Doha Institute for Graduate Studies).
The summer school is part of the research activities of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) and is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.