International Summer School, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

The summer school project “Arabische Philologien im Blickwechsel / ”نحو دراسات عربية برؤى متعددة has a twofold agenda: to facilitate the systematic exchange of perspectives and experiences between scholars based in the West and in the Arab world, and to foster the use of Arabic as an academic language. Addressing young scholars (Phd students, postdocs) in the field of Arabic literary and cultural studies based in Germany and other European countries and the Arab world, it provides them the opportunity to present their own research in an international academic context, to discuss current, innovative approaches to Arabic philology, literature and culture, and to practice the respective foreign language (English or Arabic). 

This year’s summer school seeks to bring together junior and senior scholars from universities in Germany, Europe, and the Arab world working in the field of Arabic literary and cultural studies, both classic and modern, in a wide sense (including arts, history, philosophy etc.) in order to discuss topics, methodologies, and theories related to cities in Arabic Literature, Culture, and Society. Literary engagements with cities are contemporaneous with the emergence of urban culture as such. In the cultural history of urban life, cities have been perceived, reflected on, and interpreted in endless ways. The Arabic Islamic tradition shows an explicit concern with the space of the city throughout its premodern and modern history. In Arabic sources perceptions of cities changed with the changing topography of organized social and political life. Thereby, the rich Arabic material on cities does not only express the creative force and incredible variety of urban imagination, but also unveils significant material and non-material transformations of cities. 

In the framework of the ‘spatial turn’, literary and cultural studies discuss the mapping of space, i.e. the perception, conceptualization, and (re-)presentation of space in literature, arts and culture. In this regard, approaches to the urban space in Arabic studies become an interdisciplinary lens to understand social interaction, cultural practices and material culture in a wider sense (e.g., Samira Aghacy: Writing Beirut, 2015; Nizar Hermes/Gretchen Head (eds.): The City in Arabic Literature, 2018; Khālid Ziyāda: al-Madīna al-ʿarabiyya wa-l-ḥadātha, 2018). The summer school uses interdisciplinary approaches to discuss cities in pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Arabic literature, arts and culture. It engages literary, artistic, intellectual, sociocultural, and political interactions and discusses personal and professional, private and public space related to the city in the Arabic Islamic World. By ‘mapping the urban’ in texts, it focuses on urban space going beyond the physical structure including mythological, symbolic, utopic and dystopic cities. 

The summer school welcomes research projects on urban space in Arabic literature, culture and society, including different textual practices and genres like religious texts, chronicles, travelogues, literary anthologies, biographical dictionaries, novels, poems, maqamas, but also comics, blogs and political and philosophical texts. 

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • the study of textual genres and aesthetic devices related to cities;
  • the urban imaginary of a particular city or part of a city;
  • legendary and utopian cities, their description and function;
  • textual practices of urban societies, communities, networks and actors;
  • urban transformations and their cultural, societal and political relevance as discussed in texts;
  • concepts of cities and urban life in philosophy, theology, literature and arts.

In the framework of the summer school, each young scholar will have the opportunity to present and discuss intensively his/her project in small working groups. In addition, all participants will discuss in plenary sessions theoretical approaches based on selected Arabic and English texts that will be provided by the organizers beforehand. Participants will be requested to give a short presentation of (parts of) their current research project (20 min.) in English or Arabic; they are highly encouraged to choose the language they are less familiar with. In addition, they are supposed to prepare the English and Arabic texts distributed beforehand (ca. 60 pages in total) and participate actively in plenary discussions. Good knowledge of Arabic and English is required. Travel and accommodation expenses of invited participants will be fully covered by AGYA. Funding is still subject to approval.
Please submit, in English or Arabic, an abstract of your research project (3-5 pages, including a passage related to the summer school’s thematic focus, i.e. cities or urban space), a short letter of motivation, a short CV, and the names of two academic references (one single pdf file) to [email protected] by 15 June 2019. Do not hesitate to contact us for general inquiries.