Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Avigail Noy

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., Harvard


Arabic literary and linguistic traditions, Islamic intellectual tradition


Avigail Noy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. She specializes in medieval Arabic literary theory and in the Arabic literary and linguistic traditions more broadly. Her research focuses on the historical development of Arabic poetics and rhetoric, the intersection between poetics and hermeneutics, and the theory of metaphorical language. Her publications include a study of ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī’s legacy in the Islamic intellectual tradition (2018) and a study of Sībawayh’s notion of the “absurd” (2012). In her current book project she explores how eloquence (bayān) became a matter of science in Islam. Noy holds a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic studies from Harvard (2016) and an M.A. and B.A. from Tel Aviv University.


ISL 373 • Intro To Arabic Literature

40095 • Fall 2020
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.122
GC (also listed as C L 323, MEL 321, MES 342)

An introduction to Arabic literature from ancient Arabian poetry to modern Palestinian novels. Students will familiarize themselves with the major themes, genres, and writers of literary masterpieces written in Arabic from the 6th century to the late 20th century. Topics include desert poetry, the Qur'an, medieval Muslim court literature, popular literature, Arabic poetics, travel literature, and the emergence of modern Western genres, with a focus on Palestinian literature as a test-case. We will engage first-hand with Imru' al-Qays' Qifa Nabki, al-Jahiz's Books of Misers, Ibn Hazm's theories about love, al-Mutanabbi's famed poetry, Mahmoud Darwish's I Come from There, and Emile Habiby's The Pessoptimist. All readings are in English. No prior knowledge of Islam or Arabic is necessary.

ISL 373 • The Arabian Nights

40098 • Fall 2020
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM RLP 0.122
GC (also listed as MEL 321, MES 342)

The Arabian Nights (Alf Layla wa-Layla) has increasingly become an exemplar of ‘World Literature’ but at its core it remains a product of the Arabic literary tradition. In this course students are introduced to the stories and narrative structure of The 1,001 Nights, their Indian and Iranian influences, the history of the text, its place in the Arabic-Islamic world, and its discovery and elevation in Europe (and the U.S.) as an ‘Oriental’ work of fiction. Students will consider key aspects of the work and the larger issues surrounding its impact, including popular literature, fantasy, Orientalism, gender & sexuality, race, humor, crime, modern Arabic interpretations and more.

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