Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

Document Type



The Maqamat al-Hariri is one of the most notable examples of prose in Arabic literature. Called one of the most eloquent statements of medieval Arabic prose, it also serves as a religious, social, cultural, and political document of the Abbasid Caliphate. As a writer, al-Hariri became a famous figure in Arabic literature after writing his maqamat. This dissertation studies al-Hariri as a poet through his most important prose work, the Maqamat al-Hariri.

Chapter 1 of the dissertation provides an overview of the maqama genre, including its definition, themes, stylistic features, character types, a brief history of maqamat studies, and illustrations of maqamat genre. Furthermore, the review presents a brief biography of al-Hariri and his most famous text, the Maqamat al-Hariri, with a focus on his reasons for writing the work. Finally, the review contains a detailed discussion of the Maqamat al-Hariri, including its format, setting, prefatory material, content, structure, characters, locations, styles, commentaries, illustrations, and legacy.

Chapter 2 examines the themes, language, and structure in al-Hariri’s poetry, including the two types of poetry in the Maqamat al-Hariri. The chapter also looks at the function of poetry in the Maqamat al-Hariri; the use of trickery in al-Hariri’s poetry; the placement of poetry in the Maqamat al-Hariri; al-Hariri’s poetic themes; the poetic exchanges between the protagonist (Abu Zayd al-Saruji) and the narrator (al-Harith ibn Hammam); the poetic language of the Maqamat al-Hariri; and meters and rhymes in the Maqamat al-Hariri.

Chapter 3 considers the community issues in al-Hariri’s poems, focusing on political, social, religious, and psychological aspects.

Chapter 4, which examines al-Hariri’s superiority over all other Arabic poets, is divided into three sections: al-Hariri’s superiority over other classical Arab poets; al-Hariri’s superiority over al-Hamadhani; and al-Hariri’s superiority over the poets of his own era. The chapter compares poetry in eight maqamat written by al-Hamadhani and al-Hariri.

The Conclusion, discusses the significance of the Maqamat al-Hariri in medieval and modern Arabic literature, and argues that more studies on maqama poetry will help to advance this important academic topic.



Committee Chair

Stone, Gregory