4:00pm - 6:00pm
The Alpern Room (Library North 2200)
Arab Zombie Arts Samuel England (Associate Professor of Arabic and African Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison) Monday, October 28, 4 pm Sponsored by MENA and CNES Light refreshments will be served Arab Zombie Arts Arabic drama and narrative literature fixate on the undead. In honor of Halloween, I provide an introduction to these works from the 19th to 20th century. I argue that modern authors need the distant past, to reassure their audiences that the present moment is not spiraling out of control. Arab independence movements claimed to look forward historically, beyond the constraints of old caliphates, Ottomanism, and European colonialism. But the arts of that period assumed a retrospective position far more than our formal studies acknowledge. The centerpiece of my talk is the intelligent-but-lost zombie character, anticipated in classical works like al-Ma’arri’s Epistle of Forgiveness and brought to the very edge of anxious modernity by al-Muwaylihi in A Period of Time. Why should we listen to resurrected corpses? Why have they returned to the world of the living, and how is it that they became so opinionated while in the grave?