Die Grenzen des adab: Versuch über eine literaturhistorische Hermeneutik

Stephan, Johannes (2018). Die Grenzen des adab: Versuch über eine literaturhistorische Hermeneutik. In: Zemmin, Florian; Stephan, Johannes; Corrado, Monica (eds.) Islam in der Moderne, Moderne im Islam. Eine Festschrift für Reinhard Schulze zum 65. Geburtstag. Social, economic and political studies of the Middle East and Asia: Vol. 119 (pp. 397-422). Leiden: Brill

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This contribution addresses the question how Arabic literary history can account for texts from the early modern period. The starting point is to appraise the historicity of literature itself, and particularly its modern Arabic equivalent adab. Recent scholarship has underpinned the significance of the concept of adab in the nineteenth century as the new equivalent for literature. If one is to consent to this understanding of adab as a distinctively modern concept, students of the literary history of the seventeenth and eighteenth century will have to tackle a period without literature. One way to overcome this gap is to adopt a teleological approach which tries to trace literature in early modern times as something that was yet to emerge. Another way is suggested by this essay: namely, to take into account the epistemological difference between the modern concept of literature and the premodern textual production. By espousing Reinhard Schulze’s genealogical approach along with Stephen Greenblatt’s historical methodology, the article proposes to use literature as a specific interpretative position, while keeping in mind the historical boundaries of the concept. This will be illustrated firstly, with the formation of adab in one of the first Arabic weeklies, Hadiqat al-Akhbar, and secondly, with the historical place of the Arabian Nights and its connectedness to Arabic textual and narrative culture.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

UniBE Contributor:

Stephan, Johannes


400 Language > 490 Other languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 890 Other literatures




Social, economic and political studies of the Middle East and Asia






Johannes Stephan

Date Deposited:

09 Aug 2018 07:53

Last Modified:

09 Aug 2018 07:53



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