The Muwashshah, Zajal, and Kharja: What came before and what became of them
Sage, Geoffrey Brandon
Date: 27 April 2017
University of Exeter
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies
There have historically been numerous connections between the way that medieval Iberian Muslims conceptualized love, lust, and desire and the ways in which Western Europeans have expressed those same concepts, especially as potentially derived from the literary genre of the muwashshah, a particular form of (primarily) medieval ...
There have historically been numerous connections between the way that medieval Iberian Muslims conceptualized love, lust, and desire and the ways in which Western Europeans have expressed those same concepts, especially as potentially derived from the literary genre of the muwashshah, a particular form of (primarily) medieval Hispano-Arabic poetry. Specifically, the muwashshah and its particular expression(s) of romantic love have helped in causing a series of paradigm shifts (with a definition borrowed from Kuhn to apply to the humanities) within Western ideology. This thesis focuses on the transformative effect of such Hispano-Arabic poetry within Western culture, as well as its connections with the following: Greco-Roman concepts of poetics, earlier Arabic poetry, and post-Hispano-Arabic Arabic poetry. It explores the concept of intersectionality within Hispano-Arabic culture, demonstrating how Hispano-Arabic sources may have influenced European interpretations of romantic relationships as well as how the muwashshah survived within an Arabic context. While mostly existing as a substratum within European culture, the muwashshah has had lasting influence upon European culture. The domains of love and desire provide a particularly apt example, as they involve not simply technology (civilian or military) but demonstrate the origin of a distinct change in the expression of emotion within European culture. At a fundamental level, Western Europe has adopted some of these Hispano-Arabic (as derived from a Muslim viewpoint) values. Regardless of further conflict between Europeans and Muslim cultures, they share parts of a common heritage, expressed differently, but with partial derivations, large or small, from a single source. Such exploration demonstrates the deep interconnectedness of what has heretofore been considered a separated, solely Western (Christian) European culture and that of the Islamic world, derived from one of the original points of intersection between Muslim culture and Western Christian culture, as well as how Arabic culture addressed its outliers.
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