Select Academic Year:     2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020 2020/2021 2021/2022
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)


This course aims at providing those who wish to enrol on it, with a general view of the Arabic literary production from its early pre-islamic beginnings throughout the colonial and post-colonial period, with a focus on the genres of classical Arabic prose and poetry. By the end of the module students will be familiar with the historical panorama of the Islamic classical age, its religious scientific and philosophical debates. Particular attention will be given to those authors who have marked the apogee of a specific genre/style and to the most representative works for each period/area.


A minimal acquaintance with the general framework of Arab geography is recommended.


• The pre-Islamic framework of the Arabian peninsula; the tribal system and its oral tradition. The poetry of Ǧāhiliyya: the qaṣīda.
• Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Quran; the rise of Arabic writing narration and recording.
• The “Well-Guided Caliphs” and the Umayyads; love poetry (ġazal), encomiastic poetry and the naqā’id.
• The rise and growth of adab collections.
• The first Abbasid period and the development of Quranic sciences.
• Sufism and mystic poetry.
• The second Abbasid period, the neo-classical Arabic poetry; the genre of aḫbār and the prodromes of crime novel; the language and style of the maqāma.
• The fall of the Abbasids; the development road trip literature and tales of wonder.
• The conquest of Sicily and its Arabic literary production.
• The history of al-Andalus and Morocco; the development of strophic forms: muwaššaḥa and zaǧal. The debate between philosophers and ‘ulamā’
• The Inḥiṭāṭ (Decadence). Popular siyar; Ibn Danyāl (Ḫayāl al-ẓill); Ibn Ḫaldūn’s Muqaddima.
• The Nahḍa (Renaissance) between Iqtibās (adaptation) and Iḥyā’ (revivification). The birth of Arab journalism and theatre; new genres: short tale and novel.

Teaching Methods

This is a yearly module which will be taught over the first semester (october-december), with 4 hours seminars per week, and over the second semester (march-may), with a 2 hours seminar per week, accounting for a total of 60 hours lessons.

Students will be introduced to the rich literary heritage of the Arabic language, starting from the golden odes of Pre-Islamic Arabia, ending with the novels and plays of modern and contemporary ages. A historical framework will be first presented together with the literature produced along that same period. Then, chosen poetry and prose texts will be analysed, with a particular focus on their connections to the social and historical environment in which they were created.

Students will also be asked to make an in depth research on a given topic they shall chose from within the module scope, and orally relate the information gathered.

Verification of learning

Final assessment is based upon the following elements: students attendance and their overall performance during classes accounts for 40% of the final grade. The oral exposition of the chosen topic accounts for 20% of the final grade.
During the oral exam, a 20 minute presentation (25%) and a 500 words textual analysis (15%) will provide tools for a final evaluation.


Amaldi Daniela "Storia della letteratura araba classica", Zanichelli, Bologna, 2004
Zakaria Katia and Toelle Heidi, À la découvèrte de la Littérature arabe, Flammarion, Paris, 2003

Also recommended:
HOURANI Albert, A history of the Arab peoples, Warner Books Edition, 1991
HALM Heinz, The Arabs: a short history, Markus Wiener Publishers Princeton, 2012

Lectures and handouts are part of the syllabus.

More Information

Students unable to attend classes are invited to consult the professor either by email or by meeting them, for defining the programme.

Questionnaire and social

Share on: