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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Formal structure in the lyric poetry of `Abd Allāh Ibn al-Mu`tazz
by Cohen, Elisabeth Helen, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2012, 376; 3545698
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation studies the lyric poetry of ‘Abd Allah Ibn al-Mu‘tazz, the ‘Abbasid poet, literary critic, and caliph of one day, with the aim of contributing to scholarly understanding of Ibn al-Mu‘tazz’s poetic practice in particular and lyric poetry in general. In surveying the lyric corpus, we identify some structural trends that broadly apply to short poems. First, certain formal features (such as direct address) tend to gravitate towards the beginnings of such poems, while others (such as similes) tend to gravitate towards the ends. Second, formal features are found to occur in a mostly complementary distribution between a class of genres dubbed “argumentative” and a class dubbed “descriptive”. Combining statistical techniques with traditional close-reading, we demonstrate these trends and consider their implications within the corpus and beyond it. The introductory chapter introduces and situates both Ibn al-Mu‘tazz and the major themes of the thesis. The first chapter identifies and closely examines the aforementioned structural trends as they occur in lyric couplets. The second chapter expands these findings to poems of all lengths, observing a distinction between short poems (where these trends are evident) and long poems (where they are not). The third chapter applies the same findings to anthology corpora, providing evidence that some of the structural trends found in short poems of the lyric corpus are also found in the short lyric selections that were transmitted in classical anthologies; it also examines qasīdas by Ibn al-Mu‘tazz and finds some limited applicability of the trends beyond the lyric genres. The fourth chapter returns to a close-reading of lyric poems by Ibn al-Mu‘tazz, demonstrating how the baseline expectations supplied by a statistical corpus study can be used to analyze an individual poem as literature.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hamori, Andras P.
Commitee: Creswell, Robyn, Haykel, Bernard
School: Princeton University
Department: Near Eastern Studies
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern literature, Near Eastern Studies
Keywords: Arabic poetry, Digital humanities, Formal poetry, Ibn al-Mu`tazz, `Abd Allah, Lyric poetry, Poetic structure, Similes
Publication Number: 3545698
ISBN: 978-1-267-78369-1
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