Dr. Zeina G. Halabi (OIB research affiliate)
Tuesday, 21. October 2014, 14:30-16:30
In the wake of the civil war, novelists conceived of the literary text as a means to salvage Lebanese collective memory from the systematic process of erasure that the postwar state began practicing. Writers who voiced their anxieties about the interrupted work of national mourning celebrated the role of the intellectual as a guardian of their collective memory and attributed to the written word the power of rescuing the wounded national community from the perils of oblivion. How was the intellectual’s tragic death commemorated and portrayed in the postwar cultural scene and what were the limits of this elegiac discourse?
Dr. Halabi examines Rabih Jaber’s Ralph Rizkallah fi al-Mirʾat (1997; Ralph Rizkallah through the Looking Glass) in which Jaber fictionalizes the suicide of the scholar Ralph Rizkallah. She shows how in his novel, Jaber challenges the objectification of the intellectual as the guardian of his nation’s collective memory and presents an alternative understanding of the postwar intellectual.
Dr. Zeina G. Halabi is an Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently affiliated with the Orient- Institut Beirut and the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut. Halabi is completing her book, Writing Melancholy: The Death of the Intellectual in Modern Arabic Literature, in which she engages the elegiac writings of modern and contemporary Arab novelists and poets and explores the ways in which Arab writers who identify with different literary and historical generations have mourned and commemorated the death of their peers.
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