The Art of Incredible: Strategies Employed by Early Arab Poets to Surpass the Competitors

Dr. Maxim Yosefi (University of Göttingen)

As follows from the Arabic literary-historical tradition, to astound the audience and surpass the competitors, early Arab poets used to describe each quality in its completeness, and each function fulfilled in the poem got infinitely close to the limit. Poets tried to be most effective in conventional descriptions of ideal beauty, perfect she-camels and absolute hospitality and pugnacity of their tribes. Due to high conventionalisation, they competed not merely in depicting the same standards of the ideal, but in using the same tropes attached to each standard. The art of playing with the listeners’ imagination, necessary to win in such a contest, will be in the centre of discussion.
Zoom lecture / Flyer

Maxim Yosefi is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies 1 of the University of Göttingen, where he is concluding the project on the formation of the Islamic discussion of poets and poetry. He received his PhD in 2016 from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Beer-Sheba). His major fields of interest include classical Arabic poetry, Islamic and pre-Islamic ethics.