October 22 Event: Lecture on the Qur’an by Professor Devin Stewart

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Time: 4-6 pm
Place: 4 Bancroft Avenue, Room 200B

Title: “Anomalous Rhymes and What They Tell Us: Rhyme, Rhythm, and Form as Criteria for Verse Divisions in the Qur’an”

Abstract: Professor Stewart is working on a book on Rhyme and Rhythm in the Qur’an in which he attempts to explain the relationship of poetic structures to meaning and the implications of poetic analysis for understanding the composition of the Qur’an. This lecture discusses anomalous rhymes in the Qur’anic text: why are they there, and how do we explain them?  If rhyming was a standard compositional device, why would there be divergence, especially given the evidence that rhyme and rhythm were used widely in Islamic scholarship to determine the verse divisions of the Qur’an? The book and the chapters are the first systematic attempt to offer a detailed analysis of the compositional techniques in the Qur’an.

Bio: Devin J. Stewart received a B.A. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 1984 and earned a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. He has been teaching in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, Emory University since 1990.  His research has focused on the Qur’an, Shiite Islam, Islamic legal institutions, and other topics in Arabic and Islamic studies.  He is the author of Islamic Legal Orthodoxy: Twelver Shiite Responses to the Sunni Legal System (Salt Lake City:  Utah University Press, 1998) and co-author of Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition, ed. Dwight F. Reynolds (University of California Press, 2001). His studies on the Qur’an, which have treated questions of rhyme and rhythm, textual criticism, form criticism, and prophetic typology, include: “Saj` in the Qur’an: Prosody and Structure.”  Journal of Arabic Literature 21 (1990): 101-39; “Poetic License in the Qur’an: Ibn al-Sa’igh al-Ḥanafi’s Ihkam al-Ray fi Ahkam al-Ay.” Journal of Qur’anic Studies 11.1 (2009): 1-54; “Divine Epithets and the Dibacchius: Clausulae and Qur’anic Rhythm.” Journal of Qur’anic Studies 15.2 (2013): 22-64.