Rania al-Ardawe has recently passed her PhD viva with minor corrections. Rania’s thesis is entitled ‘The Poetic Image of Water in Jāhilī and Andalusian Poetry; A Phenomenological Comparative Study’. Her abstract is below. Many congratulations to Rania!
The subject of the poetic image in Classical Arabic poetry is considered to be one of the most controversial topics in contemporary literary criticism. A great deal of attention has been directed towards this subject in literary and critical studies through the application of different approaches. Such images require knowledge of the nature of classical poetry and the nature of the Classical Arabic language. It also requires knowing the imaginative and rhetorical potentiality of the poetic image as well as its role in conveying human culture and consciousness. An understanding of Western and critical approaches and the possibility of applying them in the study of poetic images in Classical Arabic poetry is also essential.
This thesis studies and analyses the poetic image of water between the Jāhilī and Andalusian eras through the application of Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenological approach. Through this analysis, the study aims to achieve the following points: (1) examining the nature of the poetic image in the Arabic and Western critical studies; (2) understanding the phenomenological approach generally, and that of Gaston Bachelard in particular, and how to apply it in the analysis of the poetic image of the imagination of the four primitive elements in European literature, especially the poetic image of water; (3) applying Bachelard’s approach to the poetic image of water in Jāhilī and Andalusian poetry as a model; (4) concluding with an analysis that measures Arab poets’ awareness of the universe in the two focal eras and the impact of religion, culture and the environment on that; and (5) comparing the ancient Arab imagination regarding water to Western perceptions undr the shadow of Bachelard’s ideas in his analysis of the poetic image of water.
To achieve these aims, this study provides an analysis of some examples from Jāhilī and Andalusian poetry according to the divisions of Bachelard’s phenomenological approach to the image of water in poetry. A qualitative comparative approach is used in the analysis.
The results show that 25% of poetic images of water in the Jāhilī and Andalusian eras were archetypal; 62.5% of these were cultural and changeable images arising from religion, culture and geographic environment. Moreover, 12.5% were primitive images and were displaced from the Arabian imagination for the same reasons. The study also emphasises that there is a remarkable similarity and agreement in many of the images between the Arab human imagination of water specifically and the European imagination, which Bachelard offered in his analysis. This proves the hypothesis of the study that there is a connection in human consciousness across civilizations, regardless of the impact of religion, culture and geographic environment.