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Iqra’*: The Qura’nic Intertext in Comparative Literature: Palimpsest and Affect

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Organizer: M.A.R. Habib

Co-Organizer: Magda Hasabelnaby

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Reading literature, we often come across references to sacred texts, either featured as epigraphs or meshed into texts in subtler ways. Palimpsestic intertextuality suggests that texts contain traces and layers of previous texts, which can be detected through allusions and echoes. Texts are composed of multiple textual layers that influence and inform one another. Sacred texts often (dis)appear as palimpsests in literature: Poets and writers often used scenes from the Old Testament as the subject of their poems or stories; the language of a literary text may echo a passage from the Bible, and an author may incorporate a theme from a scriptural book or story in their work. This seminar invites participants to read comparative literature in search of the Qura’nic intertext in literary works from different literary traditions across the world. Whether the texts explored are medieval or contemporary, Arabic or English, African or Chinese, we are looking for contributions in English which investigate the influence, representation, and intertextual references to the Qur’an in literary works across time, space, languages, and cultures. Papers can also investigate the emotional and bodily experiences that writers and/or readers encounter when engaging simultaneously with the sacred and the literary.  The seminar aims to foster cross-cultural and interdisciplinary discussion, and enhance our understanding of both the Qur’an and the diverse literary traditions that make use of it.
*Iqra’ is an Arabic imperative verb which means “read” or “recite.” Muslims believe that, Iqra’ was the first command revealed to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) inviting him to connect with God through reciting the divine messages.
We invite paper submissions that address (but are not limited to) the following topics:

Adaptation and appropriation of the Qur’anic text: The Qur’anic allusions and their reinterpretations in literary works across different languages, genres, and time periods.
The Qur’an and Symbolism: The use of Qur’anic verses as symbolic devices in poetry, novels, plays, or other literary forms.
Cultural and Contextual Perspectives: The cultural, social, and historical contexts influencing the incorporation of Qur’anic allusions in literature.
Translation of the Qur’an: The challenges and compensation strategies adopted by writers who embed Qur’anic verses in their works.
Affect and the Qur’anic Intertext: The experiences that readers encounter when they engage with the Qur’an in a literary text. The ways in which the Qur’an in literature evokes and elicits various emotions, sensations, and visceral responses in readers.
Islamophobia and the Qur’anic Intertext: How the use of Qur’anic allusions is meant to promote, mitigate, or dispel Islamophobia.

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