passionate poetry

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					                         Poetry of Passionate Devotion:
                     Conventions of Love and the Urdu Ghazal

Instructor: Mehr Farooqi,, (phone) 924-4643,
(office) B14 Cabell Hall; TR:2-3.30

Course Description
        The love-lyric (ghazal) has been central to Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish and Urdu
traditions. It has also had a strong influence on European conceptions of love and love-lyric.
The classical ghazal’s main theme is unrequited love and the ghazal poet deals with matters
relating to love in the widest possible context. The object of desire may be human (male or
female), divine, abstract or ambiguous; its defining trait is its inaccessibility.
        In this course we will read selections from some of the best classical Urdu and
Persian lyric poetry. We will learn about the conventions of love in Urdu literary culture and
the poetics of the ghazal in general. We will explore the different possibilities of
interpretation: how the line between sacred and profane love (ishq) is often blurred, the
relationship of poetry to mystical inspiration and so on. One of the central themes of
exploration will be the concept of originality and what it means in the ghazal tradition. A sub-
theme will be the space of translation in a poetics where ‘rewriting’ and ‘originality’ elude the
nets of precise definition.

Poems will be read in modern English translations. No pre requisites

Requirements and Expectations
         Course work will include writing interpretive analyses of selected poems, 1-2 pages
(an exercise in exploring the range of possible meanings contained in the verses of a selected
ghazal); an oral presentation; and a final paper, 8-10 pages, on a topic of the student’s choice,
to be worked out in consultation with the instructor. The highlight of the class will be a
mushairah (performance) in which students will present their own ghazals.

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