Classical Arabic Literature
2013 – present: Assistant Professor – Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto
2013 – present: Associate Member – The Centre for Comparative Literature and the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto
I am currently working on a book manuscript examining al-Jahiz’s ninth-century Book of Animals. The book deals with al-Jahiz’s language theory, particular his semantics, in relation to the example of animal categories and al-Jahiz’s critique of Aristotelian classification and definition. As part of my investigation of al-Jahiz’s thinking about how words mean, the book addresses comparisons between humans and animals, and the theological, logical, and literary ramifications of making such comparisons.
At the same time, I am working on an article on the shifting afterlife of al-Jahiz’s language theory in later Islamicate thinking. And I am compiling sources for a second project on Arabic disputational rhetoric in the ninth century and before, as presented in narratives of fictional and historical disputes, as well as in discussions of the art of rhetorical disputation.
NMC 255: Arabic Literature in Translation
NMC 256: 1001 Nights Around the World
NML 412/NMC 2130: Survey of Classical Arabic Literature
Jeannie Miller, book review of: Hans Belting, Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arabic Science in Arab Studies Journal Vol. 20 No. 1 Spring, 2012, pp. 209-213.
Papers Presented at Meetings and Symposia:
“Adaptations in the Format of the Trial in Versions of the Sindibad Cycle,” The Seven Viziers and the Seven Sages: Toward a comparative textual history, 6-8 November, 2014, University of Geneva. (paper accepted)
“Al-Jahiz’s Semantics: In What Sense is Man Not the Only Speaking Animal?” School of Abbasid Studies Conference, August 13-16, 2014, Istanbul, Turkey. (paper accepted)
“Trials and Translations: Ambiguity and Forensic Additions to Kalila wa-Dimna and the Seven Viziers Cycle,” special conference honoring the 60th anniversary of McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies, Montreal, May 16-18. (paper accepted)
“Al-Jahiz’s Modes of Signification Between Majaz and the Literal,” American Comparative Literature Association Conference, NYC, March 20-23, 2014.
“Al-Jahiz on Tashbīh and Other Ways to Designate,” American Oriental Society, Phoenix, AZ, March 14-17, 2014.
“Categorizing Beings, Between Theology and Literature: Al-Jahiz on Predators and Animal Speech,” Oriental Club of Toronto, October 1, 2013.
“Dogs, Devils, and the Rhetoric of Total Audibility,” International Conference on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 10-13, 2012, MEARCSTAPA panel on monsters.
“Rhetoric and Methods of Classification in al-Jahiz’s Kitab al-Hayawan,” the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society, Boston, March 16–19, 2012.
“Grossing Out the Patron: Performative Argument in the Debate between Dog and Cock in al-Jahiz’s Book of Animals,” Courts and Performance in the Premodern Middle East (600-1600 CE), NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, February 25-27, 2012.
“Mice, Eels, and Spotted Dogs: Metamorphosis and Other Challenges to Animals Categories in the Dog-Cockerel Debate in al-Jahiz’s Book of Animals,” public job talk, University of Toronto, January 26, 2012.
“Al-Jahiz’s Dog-Cock Debate: Disgust between Poetry and Law,” Comparative Approaches to Cultural and Literary Studies student colloquium, NYU, April 21, 2011.
“An Investigation of the Disgusting: Al-Jahiz’s Dog-Cock Debate and Fiqh,” the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society, Chicago, March 11–14, 2011.
“Surprise and Play in Al-Jahiz’s Sequences,” Jil Jadid Graduate Student Conference in Arabic Literature and Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin, February 18–19, 2011.
“Animal Language, Birdsong, and the Human Microcosm in al-Jahiz’s Book of Animals,” Animals and Humans in the Culture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance at Barnard College, December 4, 2010.
“The relationship between Kalila wa-Dimna and Meshal ha-Kadmoni,” the 2009–2010 Shalom Spiegel Seminar at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
“Generational Struggle or the Wiles of Women? The Book of Sindibad, Boccacio, and the Dolopathos,” Alf layla wa-layla: Tales of 1001 Nights – Encounters and Translations in Literature and the Arts, NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, December 15–17, 2009.
“Character Discontinuity and the Underground in al-Hamadhānī’s maqāmāt” presented at the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society, March 14-17, 2008.