30046 - Arab Literature 1 (2nd cycle)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Ines Peta
  • Credits: 9
  • SSD: L-OR/12
  • Language: Italian
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Italian Culture and Language for Foreigners (cod. 0983)

Learning outcomes

The student possesses in-depth knowledge of the history of modern Arabic literature, with particular attention to the relationship between literary texts and the historical, artistic and linguistic context. He knows and uses the practical methodologies for the analysis and interpretation of the literary text.

Course contents

The course intends to dwell on some fundamental themes of contemporary Arab literary production, such as exile, war, identity and the relationship with the Other (European or "Western"), authoritarianism and the question of minorities, the political instrumentalization of religion, the failure of the so-called "Arab springs," and the dream of an inclusive society. These issues will be analyzed, on the one hand, through the lens of a relatively recent genre, comics, and, on the other, through the production of an extremely significant author of contemporary Morocco, Hassan Aourid (b. 1962).

The course will therefore be divided into two modules:

1) Module on comics, in collaboration with Giulia Aiello (Lingmod doctoral student)

The module aims to provide an overview of how major themes in contemporary Arabic literary production are addressed and represented in the emerging genre of adult comics. Thus, comics and graphic novels from the Arab world, especially related to the post-Revolutions period of 2011 (so-called Arab Springs), will be examined. The case studies on which the course will focus will come from Lebanon in particular, but other contexts such as Egypt, Palestine, and Tunisia will also be considered.

2) Module on Hassan Aourid

The module aims to offer a comprehensive presentation of the figure of Hassan Aourid, a historian, essayist and novelist of Berber origin, in whose production, as well as in whose biography itself, it is possible to identify the difficult but fruitful coexistence of linguistic and cultural diversities of which the Arab world, and Morocco in particular, exemplifies. Born in al-Rashidiyya in 1962, due to his excellent results in school he was chosen to study with the future King Mohammed VI at the Royal College in Rabat. After receiving his doctorate in Political Science from Université Mohammed V (1999), he was appointed official spokesman of the Royal Palace, a position he held until 2005. From 2005 to 2009 he was governor of the Drâa-Tafilalet region, where he is originally from, and from 2009 to 2010 official historiographer of the kingdom. Since 2010 he has left all official positions to devote himself exclusively to writing, research and teaching. During the course excerpts from his novels will be analyzed, in particular:

- Sīrat ḥimār ("Biography of a Donkey"), 2014, later translated into French by the same author as Tourments d'un âne (2018), inspired by Apuleius' Metamorphoses;

- Rabī' Qurṭuba ("The Spring of Cordoba"), 2017;

- Ribāṭ al-Mutanabbī ("The Bond of al-Mutanabbī"), 2019, which made it to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2020 longlist.


1) Module on comics

Primary texts

- Al-Khoury, Omar, Yūtūbyā [Utopia], Beirut, Samandal, 2017 (estratti scelti).

- Kerbaj, Mazen, Risāla ilà al-umm [Letter to the mother]. In Kerbaj, Mazen, Wajaʿ rās comics, malaf bi-l-alwān [Headache comics, color section], 33-55. In Samandal 13, Beirut, Samandal. 35-44, 2012.

- Merhej, Lena, Aʿtaqidu annanā sa-nakūnu hādiʾīna fī-l ḥarb al-muqbila [I think we will be calmer in the next war], https://grandpapier.org/lena-merhej?lang=fr, 2006 (estratti scelti).

- Rima, Barrack, Beyrouth: La trilogie, Marseille, Alifbata, 2017 (estratti scelti).

- Traboulsi, Jana & ʿAbbud, Nawal, An tāʾkhudh albūm al- ʿāʾila (kullmā ghādart al-manzil) [To take the family album (whenever you leave the house)]. In Rima, Barrack (ed.), Généalogie/Sulāla, Beirut, Samandal, 17-36, 2014 (estratti scelti).

Secondary texts:

- Di Ricco, Massimo “Drawing for a New Public: Middle Eastern 9th Art and the Emergence of a Transnational Graphic Movement”, In Binita Mehta & Pia Mukherji (a cura di), Postcolonial Comics: Texts, Events, Identities, Routledge, 2015.

- Ghaibeh, Lina, and Simona Gabrieli (a cura di), Nouvelle Génération: La Bande Dessinée Arabe Aujourd’hui. The New Generation: Arab Comics Today, Marseille, Alifbata, 2017.

- Høigilt, Jacob, “Dialect with an Attitude: Language and Criticism in New Egyptian Print Media”, In Jacob Høigilt & Mejdell Gunvor (a cura di), The Politics of Written Language in the Arab World, 166–189, Leiden, Brill, 2017.

- Høigilt, Jacob, “Egyptian comics and the challenge to patriarchal authoritarianism”, International Journal of Middle East Studies 49(1), 111–131, 2017.

- Høigilt, Jacob, Comics in Contemporary Arab Culture: Politics, Language and Resistance, London/New York, I.B.Tauris, 2019.

- Merhej, Lena Irmgard, “Men with Guns: War Narratives in New Lebanese Comics”, In Binita Mehta & Pia Mukherji (a cura di), Postcolonial Comics: Texts, Events, Identities, Routledge, 2015.

2) Module on Hassan Aourid

Allen, Roger. 1995. The Arabic novel: an Historical and Critical introduction. New York: Syracuse University Press.

Aurīd, Ḥasan. 2014. Sīrat ḥimār, Rabat: Dār al-Amān.

Aourid, Hassan. 2017. Aux origines du marasme arabe. Rabat: El maarif al jadida.

Aourid, Hassan. 2017. Regards sur l’Occident. Casablanca: la Croisée des Chemins.

Aourid, Hassan. 2018. Tourments d’un âne. Casablanca: Imprimerie Najah al-Jadida.

Aurīd, Ḥasan. 2020. al-Siyāsa wa-l-dīn fī ’l-Maġrib. Casablanca: al-Markaz al-ṯaqāfī al-ʿarabī.

Aourid, Hassan. 2021. Pouvoir et religion au Maroc. Casablanca: la Croisée des Chemins.

Camera D’Afflitto, Isabella. 2011 (terza ristampa). Letteratura araba contemporanea. Dalla nahḍah a oggi. Carocci: Roma.

De Poli, Barbara. 2021. Il Marocco, dalle conquiste arabe a Muḥammad VI. Roma: Istituto per l’Oriente Carlo Alfonso Nallino.

Ndiaye, Christiane. 2004. Introduction aux littératures francophones: Afrique · Caraïbe · Maghreb. Montréal: Presses de l'Université de Montréal.

Parrilla, Gonzalo F. 2006. La literatura marroquí contemporánea: la novela y la crítica literaria. Castiglia-La Mancia: Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha.

Teaching methods

1) Frontal lessons

2) Interactive lessons

3) Activities in pairs and / or in groups

Assessment methods

The oral exam aimed at verifying the mastery of the topics covered. In particular we will evaluate the argumentative and expressive ability of the students, the knowledge of the specialized language studied and the ability to analyze the texts examined.

Teaching tools

Audio / video texts, power-points and other materials provided by the teacher.

Office hours

See the website of Ines Peta