Tahera Qutbuddin

Tahera Qutbuddin
Professor of Arabic Literature
Pick Hall 212
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1999
Teaching at UChicago since 2002

Academic Bio

My scholarship focuses on intersections of the literary, the religious, and the political in classical Arabic poetry and prose. Using this interdisciplinary approach, I conduct research in the areas of classical Arabic oratory and Islamic preaching (khutba); the Quran, the Hadith traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, and the sermons and sayings of Ali ibn Abi Talib; Fatimid poetry, Tayyibi (and Da’udi Bohra) history and literature, and Arabic in India.

In addition to journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries on these subjects, I have published the following books: My first monograph was Al-Muʾayyad al-Shirazi and Fatimid Daʿwa Poetry: A Case of Commitment in Classical Arabic Literature (Brill, 2005). I then edited and translated A Treasury of Virtues: Sayings, Sermons, and Teachings of Ali compiled by al-Qadi al-Quda’i, with the One Hundred Proverbs attributed to al-Jahiz (Library of Arabic Literature, NYU Press, 2013). My latest volume is titled Light in the Heavens: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, a critical edition and translation of al-Quda’i’s Kitab al-Shihab (Library of Arabic Literature, NYU Press, 2016). My currently ongoing monograph project is titled Classical Arabic Oratory: Religion, Politics and Orality-Based Aesthetics of Public Address in the Early Islamic World, for which I was awarded fellowships by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the American Council of Learned Societies. I am also working on an edition and translation of al-Radi’s compilation of Ali’s sermons titled Path of Eloquence (Nahj al-balaghah).

I teach graduate seminars and undergraduate courses in classical Arabic poetry and prose, and over the past several years my literature courses have included pre-Islamic poetry; Abbasid poetry; the poetry of Mutanabbi; Shia poetry; Abbasid prose: Ibn al-Muqaffa', Jahiz, Tawhidi;Badiʿ al-Zaman al-Hamadhani’sMaqamat; Classical Arabic OrationNahj al-balaghah; Quran, Hadith and Khutba; Survey of Classical Arabic Literature; Arabic Wisdom Literature; and Women in Classical Arabic Literature. I also teach annually the first quarter of the College Core sequence Islamic Thought and Literature, and every other year a two-quarter sequence on Advanced Arabic Syntax. The dissertations I supervise in classical Arabic literature range widely, and include areas in which I myself write, as well as areas in which I don’t. I also serve as dissertation committee member for NELC students working on Islamic history, Islamic Thought, and Persian Literature, for students in the department of Comparative Literature, and for students in the Divinity School, of which I am an associate faculty member.


Selected Publications


Recent & Regularly Taught Courses

  • ARAB 40101-40102 Advanced Arabic Syntax I-II
  • ARAB 40383 Seminar: Poetry (Al-Mutanabbi)
Affiliated Departments and Centers: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Divinity School
Subject Area: Arabic Language and Literature, Islamic History and Civilization, Islamic Thought