New directions in kharja studies : gender, sexuality and religion
Fees, Joseph Charles
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The focus of kharja criticism on origins and influences has prevented scholarship of this literature from exploring different approaches for understanding this poetry. This dissertation takes a new and needed direction by examining the themes of gender, sexuality and religion in the muwashshahs with Romance kharjas. The first chapter presents a meta-critical analysis of kharja scholarship and notes how these studies have been focused on philological issues. The second chapter looks at the role gender plays in this corpus of poetry. It analyses the relationship of the voices of the kharjas and muwashshahs, compares descriptions of males and females, discusses gender conventions in Arabic poetry and determines the gender of the referent for each poem. The third chapter places the muwashshahs in the context of Andalusian sexuality and society. It notes the importance of their courtly creation and examines the themes of violence, sexuality and pleasure. The fourth and final chapter examines the convergence of religious and sexual language in the muwashshahs. It summarizes this tradition beginning with Plato's "Symposium" followed by descriptions of paradise in the Koran and Ibn Hazm's "The Dove's Ring Neck". The conclusion compares the muwashshahs to the "cantigas d'amigo", the troubadour lyric and the "Divine Comedy" with respect to the themes of gender, sexuality and religion. This analysis demonstrates the cultural and societal influences on these literatures.