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The Barber of DamascusNouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant$
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Dana Sajdi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785327

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785327.001.0001

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Authority and History

Authority and History

The Genealogy of the Eighteenth-Century Levantine Contemporary Chronicle

(p.115) Chapter 4 Authority and History
The Barber of Damascus

Dana Sajdi

Stanford University Press

This chapter explores the literary and historiographical dimensions of the phenomenon of nouveau literacy. It does this by attempting to answer the question “why is it that all the new historians of the eighteenth-century Levant converged on the text of the contemporary chronicle?” The chapter traces the historical development of the genre of the chronicle and, necessarily, of its sister genre, the biographical dictionary, from their earliest roots in the eighth century to their latest reincarnation in the eighteenth century. It demonstrates how in the process of its evolution the chronicle gradually shed some authority-related literary conventions that had historically kept non-scholars at bay. By the eighteenth century, the chronicle had been liberated from the authority of the scholars rendering it easily appropriable by anyone—that is, anyone who could read and write. Chapter Keywords: Biographical dictionary, literary conventions, historiography, contemporary chronicle.

Keywords:   Mikhā’īl Burayk, Ḥaydar Aḥmad Riḍā al-Rukaynī, Ibrāhīm al-Danafī, Muḥamad al-Makkī, Ḥasan Āghā al-`Abd, Ḥasan Ibn al-Ṣiddīq, textual Arabic, “‘cheap’ monumentality”, “in plain Arabic”

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