Join afikra as they interview assistant professor of Arabic language and literature and author of “Memory in Ruins: The Poetics of Atlal in Lebanese Wartime and Postwar Production” Yasmine Khayyat on the afikra Outline series.
This dissertation examines the convergence of ruins and memory. It is an inquiry into the role ruins play in indexing, impeding and enabling memories of war through literary and non-literary media. At the heart of this study is an attempt to explore the multivalent nature of war memories in Lebanon–their inscription, mediation, and transformation–through the framework of ruins. Drawing on the classical Arabic literary tradition of contemplating ruins allows me to analyze the way ruins are interpreted and represented in contemporary Lebanese vernacular, literary, museological and poetic matrixes of memory. Through their evocation of the past via its ruin-traces, the modern works under examination effectively transform the poetics of nostalgia to new affective and alternative imaginary spaces. It is precisely in the creative tension between the traditional and the modern, the real and the imagined ruins, where a contemporary poetics of memory lies.