Comparative balāghah: Arabic and ancient Egyptian literary rhetoric through the lens of post-Eurocentric poetics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There is little interest from the specialists of “Comparative Rhetoric” to study the other’s non-European rhetorical systems by employing their own indigenous literary criticism and concepts, without heavily relying on the automatic application of Eurocentric methodologies. Both the ancient Egyptian and Arabic literary rhetorical systems are suffering from employing Eurocentric theories to analyze different aspects of their literariness. The chapter argues that if comparatists begin their investigation by adopting or even adapting the Greco-Roman concepts and definitions, then we lose a genuine ability to understand the non-European cultures, as they have been situated and embedded by their own intellectual figures. The chapter questions the universality of Eurocentric literary concepts and how such claims are always recycled to prevent the indigenous cultures from speaking of themselves eloquently.

The chapter suggests a new field of research that is termed comparative balāghah, which focuses on comparing the literary devices of two kindred languages. The theory of Arabic balāghah (roughly translated in poetics) focuses on studying the various forms of each literary device and its persuasion function in different textual contexts. The chapter also considers the graphic nature of the core hieroglyphic script, which provided ancient Egyptian writers with visual techniques that have become overlooked because of our modern alphabetical backgrounds.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Comparative World Rhetorics
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in the History, Application, and Teaching of Rhetoric Beyond Traditional Greco-Roman Contexts
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9780367809768
ISBN (Print)9780367409029
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2020


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