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A Corpus, Not a Canon

The Library of Arabic Literature is a remarkable undertaking. It is publishing, in Arabic and English dual-language volumes, key works of classical and pre-modern Arabic literature from the pre-Islamic era to the cusp of the modern period. Several of these works have not been translated before, while others have not received such careful editing and translation until now, when the editors and translators are consulting original manuscripts. The series launched its first title in December 2012 and, by January 2015, will have published fifteen books. The literature already encompasses a fascinating range of genres, and several other texts are currently being translated or in production—the corpus includes works of mysticism, poetry, wonder tales, long fiction, theology, philosophy, law, science, and history. Supported by a grant from the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute and established in partnership with NYU Press, the series aims to introduce the Arabic literary heritage to specialists and the general public alike, bringing hitherto under-read Arabic literature to English as well as Arabic readers.
The workshop at All Souls will be the first opportunity in the UK to discuss this ambitious and important enterprise. It will bring together scholars, translators, and editors of the Library, and invite respondents to discuss the questions that the endeavour raises. Canon formation, comparative criteria of appreciation, and approaches to translation will be explored, among others. The workshop will also address the conjunction of politics and culture in the contemporary Middle East and the issues of cultural diplomacy.

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Remembering the Corpus Overview of the project, difficulties, ideals, scope, historical context. Speakers: Philip Kennedy leads discussion with Geert Jan van Gelder, Ferial Ghazoul, and Joseph Lowry. Philip Kennedy, Geert Jan van Gelder, Ferial Ghazoul, Joseph Lowry 29 May 2015
2 Remembering the Corpus [Part 2] Different genres embraced by LAL and modes of writing. Julia Bray and James Montgomery lead discussion with Beatrice Gruendler and Shawkat Toorawa. Julia Bray, James Montgomery, Beatrice Gruendier, Shawkat Toorawa 29 May 2015
3 Remembering the Corpus [Part 3] LAL’s importance to comparative literature and ways of reading. Marina Warner leads discussion with Dominique Jullien, Ros Ballaster, Wen-chin Ouyang and Matthew Reynolds. Marina Warner, Dominique Jullien, Ros Ballaster, Wen-Chin Ouyang 29 May 2015
4 Editing the Corpus Methods and approaches to establishing the texts, linguistic difficulty, history of transmission, literary character, audience. Michael Cooperson leads discussion with Julia Bray, Joseph Lowry, and Devin Stewart. Michael Cooperson, Julia Bray, Joseph Lowry, Devin Stewart 29 May 2015
5 Translating the Corpus LAL’s remit, ambition and complexity. Philip Kennedy and Richard Sieburth lead discussion with Roger Allen, Humphrey Davies, Marilyn Booth and Robyn Creswell. Roger Allen, Humphrey Davies, Marilyn Booth, Robyn Creswell 29 May 2015
6 Reading the Corpus LAL’s contribution to cultural diplomacy, diffusion, literary exchanges, and education. Wen-chin Ouyang and Chip Rossetti lead discussion with Philip Kennedy, Sean Anthony, Julia Bray, Robert Irwin and Mohamed-Salah Omri. Wen-Chin Ouyang, Chip Rossetti, Philip Kennedy, Julia Bray 29 May 2015