Session Title

Neighboring Languages and Cross-Cultural Exchange: Persian/Arabic, French/English

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Suzanne Conklin Akbari

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Presider Name

Suzanne Conklin Akbari

Paper Title 1

Theater of Letters

Presenter 1 Name

Karla Mallette

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Paper Title 2

Arabic in English and French

Presenter 2 Name

Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of California-Berkeley

Paper Title 3

Middle English/Arabic

Presenter 3 Name

Shazia Jagot

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Syddansk Univ.

Start Date

14-5-2017 10:30 AM

Session Location

Schneider 1350

Description

The last few decades have witnessed serious engagement with the role of non-European languages -- especially Arabic -- in medieval western literature. This shift was precipitated by Maria Rosa Menocal’s groundbreaking study The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History, and has been nurtured by more recent work by scholars such as Karla Mallette, Sahar Amer, Ryan Szpiech, among others. In spite of these developments, theories of cross-cultural exchange have predominantly focused on the relationship between Arabic and Mediterranean languages, especially Iberian and Italian vernaculars. When we discuss the influence of Arabic on English and French language and culture, we still tend to understand the latter as target languages, where scientific or medical knowledge is transmitted from Arabic, through some mediating Mediterranean vernacular, to a Northern European environment.

This analytical framework leaves little room for a more robust narrative of the cultural and literary development of English and French, and in particular an understanding of how neighboring languages - French and English, on the one hand, Arabic and Persian, on the other - inform one another. Moreover, Persian, though both a linguistic and cultural partner to Arabic, is still little discussed and largely absent from the map of Mediterranean cross-cultural exchange. The result of neglecting the northern European vernaculars and Persian is that we continue to have an incomplete narrative of the “East-West” relationship.

Language never travels divorced from its cultural contexts and history, regardless of how technical the transmitted content is. The influence of Persian on Arabic, and vice versa, and the transmission of Arabic knowledge into English and French by way of Latin suggests the presence of a wide range of channels for influence and exchange. This session seeks to investigate the relationship between these languages and the rich literary cultures they participated in and helped to create and shape. It seeks to understand the role of medieval English and French in a more encompassing and globally oriented conversation.

Suzanne C. Akbari

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May 14th, 10:30 AM

Neighboring Languages and Cross-Cultural Exchange: Persian/Arabic, French/English

Schneider 1350

The last few decades have witnessed serious engagement with the role of non-European languages -- especially Arabic -- in medieval western literature. This shift was precipitated by Maria Rosa Menocal’s groundbreaking study The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History, and has been nurtured by more recent work by scholars such as Karla Mallette, Sahar Amer, Ryan Szpiech, among others. In spite of these developments, theories of cross-cultural exchange have predominantly focused on the relationship between Arabic and Mediterranean languages, especially Iberian and Italian vernaculars. When we discuss the influence of Arabic on English and French language and culture, we still tend to understand the latter as target languages, where scientific or medical knowledge is transmitted from Arabic, through some mediating Mediterranean vernacular, to a Northern European environment.

This analytical framework leaves little room for a more robust narrative of the cultural and literary development of English and French, and in particular an understanding of how neighboring languages - French and English, on the one hand, Arabic and Persian, on the other - inform one another. Moreover, Persian, though both a linguistic and cultural partner to Arabic, is still little discussed and largely absent from the map of Mediterranean cross-cultural exchange. The result of neglecting the northern European vernaculars and Persian is that we continue to have an incomplete narrative of the “East-West” relationship.

Language never travels divorced from its cultural contexts and history, regardless of how technical the transmitted content is. The influence of Persian on Arabic, and vice versa, and the transmission of Arabic knowledge into English and French by way of Latin suggests the presence of a wide range of channels for influence and exchange. This session seeks to investigate the relationship between these languages and the rich literary cultures they participated in and helped to create and shape. It seeks to understand the role of medieval English and French in a more encompassing and globally oriented conversation.

Suzanne C. Akbari