Al-Ghazāl’s Journey to the (Is)Lands of the Vikings and its Afterlife
Nizar F. Hermes talks on ""The (Hi)Story of al-Ghazāl’s Journey to the (Is)Lands of the Vikings and tts Afterlife in a Contemporary Arabic Poem"
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I my talk, I will revisit Andalusian Ibn Diḥya’s (d. 1235) account of his predecessor Yaḥyā al-Ghazāl’s (d. 866) alleged ninth-century embassy to a Viking court. Amidst this, I will re-late some of my most interesting experiences teaching this fascinating (hi)story in North America to ethnically and culturally diverse students especially in comparison to the tenth century Risālah of Ibn Faḍlān (d.960) and a vernacular Algerian malḥūn (folk song/poem) on the 1770 Danish-Norwegian siege and bombardment of Algiers at the height of the Danish-Algerian wars (1769-1772). Last but not least, I will explore the upsurge of widely romanticized and romanticizing literary and artistic interest in premodern Muslim-Viking encounters in the Middle East and North Africa namely as discursively articulated in con-temporary Arabic poetry, documentaries, and TV series.
Nizar F. Hermes is Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia.