Michael Sells Honored With Prestigious Academic Fellowship
Originally composed by Bedouin and handed down orally for centuries before being recorded in the first four centuries after Islam, Sells said the poems are still at the heart of Arabic literary sensibility and have played a central role in the development of Islamic literature beyond the Arabic world. With support from the fellowship, Sells will be writing on the various moods and modes of the poems: lyrical, elegiac, heroic, tragic and ironic.
"Themes from the Qasida are not only part of an ancient heritage, but are found in the most intimate and profound human moments," Sells wrote in his fellowship proposal. "When these elements are lost in the translation of culture, our understanding of the Islamic world in general, and the Arabic and Islamic world in particular, is reduced and flattened - at a time when we are in particular need of deeper understanding."
Sells, The Emily Judson Baugh and John Marshall Gest Professor of Comparative Religions, was one of only 164 scholars, artists and scientists nationwide to receive the 1997 fellowships which are awarded annually to applicants of unusually distinguished achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.