How Adab Became Literary
This chapter examines how discussions of world literature relate to the field of Arabic literature by tracing how the Arabic term adab became literary. It considers how definitions of the literary turn on assertions of how to read, respond, and relate to texts by analyzing literary history, on the one hand, as it intersects with literary theory, on the other, to focus on finite moments in the work of Jurji Zaydan, H. A. R. Gibb, and Edward Said. The chapter shows that this convergence of literature and adab ultimately enables an alternate genealogy of world literature—one based less on the accumulation of texts than on an emergent global discipline. It argues that asking about how adab becomes literary is intertwined with the question of what literature is and with the overlapping of philology and pedagogy it implies.
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