In popular accounts as well as UN Development reports, the Arab world appears uniquely resistant to modern ways of being and styles of thought. Yet debates about modernity have long been at the center of intellectual life in the region, and the most sophisticated versions of these debates happen in poetry. The cultural heritage that seems most threatened by modernity is precisely the one poets have traditionally served to protect. Robyn Creswell’s lecture asks how modern Arab poets have reconciled the demands of innovation and cultural preservation—the demand to make it new with the demand to make it authentic — and reflect on the way debates about culture and modernity have been reflected in the recent uprisings.
17 Mar 16