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Al-Mutanabbi, Arabic literature, and World Literature

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Organizer: Omar Khalifah

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Despite the increasing interest in, and studies about, the location of Arabic literature within world literature, pre-modern Arab poets and prose writers haven’t been adequately represented in world literature anthologies, textbooks, and syllabi. Of these Arab men of letters, legendary poet Abu Al-Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi has hardly made it into the list of familiar figures of world literature. This is more puzzling if we take into consideration Al-Mutanabbi’s unmatched stature in Arabic literature and the mostly unanimous adulation his poetry has received among Arabs throughout the centuries. This seminar invites papers that address the presence of Al-Mutanabbi in world literature. What is the trajectory of this presence? What does this presence tell us about the politics of translation, circulation, and distribution? How do we account for the seemingly unappealing character of Al-Mutanabbi’s poetry once transferred to the realm of world literature? And what does that contribute to debates about untranslatability and localness of a certain literary tradition or figure? How do compare Al-Mutanabbi to other pre-modern poets, Arabs or non-Arabs, whose poetry has been more globalized and universalized?

Papers are welcome to tackle these and other related issues in the relationship between Al-Mutanabbi, Arabic literature, and world literature in general. Please submit your proposal to the ACLA website by September 23. For any inquiries, contact Omar Khalifah at

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