Alexander Key is the Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His interests range across the intellectual history of the Arabic and Persian-speaking worlds from the seventh century, and Western political thought and philosophy. He is a founding editor of New Middle Eastern Studies, where he has edited articles on femininity in 1920s Lebanon, women Muslim leaders in Central Asia, Iran’s nuclear program, Salafi conceptions of citizenship, and art in the Arab Spring. He is currently editing an eleventh-century Arabic manual of poetics, polishing up a philological study of its author, and preparing to write a monograph on the Arabic philosophy of language.
Professor Key will talk about the theory and practice of literary criticism in the Arabic-speaking world of (and before) the eleventh century, and the importance this theory and history have for the nascent discipline of Comparative Literary Theory (he will be taking part in the “Worlding Literary Theory” seminar at the ACLA in Toronto). The text he will discuss is a recent, and excellent, translation of a section from the most influential monograph on literary theory ever produced in Arabic.
Lucy Alford (Comparative Literature) will be responding.