Languages of Unsaying: Islam, Secularism, and American Poetry

Spring
Spring 2019
Olympia
Olympia
Daytime
Day
Junior-Senior
Junior–Senior
Class Size: 50
16
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Sarah Eltantawi square
comparative religion

The term "unsaying" refers to the mystery of needing a name to refer to a transcendent that defies all representation, including that of names. In response to this need Sufi poets, in both Arabic and other languages, have created one of the richest of mystical poetries in world culture, often in a dialectic with concepts of Law. Contemporary Arab poets have also asserted a humanistic and secular worldview in response to these traditions. These poets have in turn inspired a rich translation tradition in American culture, and an answering music in American poetry. The program seeks to uncover the cross-cultural currents running between Islam and the episteme of the American poem.

Through the poetics of the "every day", these poets often conversely ask larger questions of "civilization" and what it means or does not mean. Readings for this program include Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Atar, and Hafez (Persian), Ibn Hallaj, and contemporary Arab poets such as Adonis, Naomi Shiban Nye, Mahmoud Darwish, and Etal Adnan. American poets and writers to be considered include Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as contemporary poets such as Nathaniel Mackey, Joseph Donahue, and Fanny Howe. We will also consider the poetry and writing of the Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, himself an influence on many American poets, including Jack Spicer. Students pursuing the studies of literature, religion, cultural studies, and philosophy will find this program of interest; there will as well be opportunities to pursue creative writing projects from prompts that draw from the material. Learning objectives include the deepening of cross-cultural understanding, the sharpening of one's reading and writing skills, and the development of one's eye and ear for nuance and mystery.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

religious studies and writing.

16

Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.
Junior-Senior
Class Standing: Junior–Senior
Class Size: 50
Daytime

Scheduled for: Day

First meeting:

Monday, April 1, 2019 - 10:00 am
SEM 2 C2107 - Seminar

Located in: Olympia