Geert Jan van Gelder


Research Fellow; Professor Emeritus, Arabic

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute / St John's College


Research Interests:

My research moves over a wide range of topics within Classical Arabic literature, especially belles-lettres. They include the Arabic tradition of literary criticism, poetics, rhetoric, and stylistics; the history of poetry and poetic genres; and the study of specific themes in poetry and literary prose. I tend to have a preference for less-studied, even "marginal" genres and themes.

Current Projects:

  • Poetry in historiography
  • Sound and sense in classical Arabic poetry

Courses Taught:

  • Classical Arabic poetry
  • Classical Arabic prose

Recent Publications:

  • "The Nodding Noddles, or Jolting the Yokels: A composition for marginal voices by al-Shirbini (fl. 1687)", in Robin Ostle (ed.), Marginal Voices in Literature and Society, Aix-en-Provence, 2000 [2001], pp. 49-67
  • "The Apposite Request: A small chapter in Persian and Arabic rhetoric", Edebiyat N.S. 12:1 (2001) 1-13
  • "Mirror for Princes or Vizor for Viziers: The twelfth-century Arabic popular encyclopedia Mufid al-`ulum and its relationship with the anonymous Persian Bahr al-fawa'id", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 64:3 (2001) 313-338
  • "Mudrik al-Shaybani's poem on a Christian boy: bad taste or harmless wit?", in Gert Borg and Ed the Moor (eds), Representations of the Divine in Arabic Poetry, Amsterdam-Atlanta, 2001, pp. 49-70
  • "Poetry for Easy Listening: insijam and related concepts in Ibn Hijja's Khizanat al-adab", Mamluk Studies Review, 7 (2003) 31-48
  • "A conversation on contemporary politics in the twelfth century: 'al-Maqama al-Baghdadiyya' by al-Wahrani (d. 575/1179)", in Chase F. Robinson (ed.), Texts, Documents and Artefacts: Islamic Studies in Honour of D.S. Richards, Leiden, 2003, pp. 103-119
  • "Beautifying the Ugly and Uglifying the Beautiful: The Paradox in Classical Arabic Literature", Journal of Semitic Studies, 48:2 (2003) 321-351.
  • "To eat or not to Eat Elephant: A Travelling Story in Arabic and Persian Literature", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 66:3 (2003) 419-430.
  • "The Classical Arabic Canon of Polite (and Impolite) Literature", in Gillis J. Dorleijn and Herman L. J. Vanstiphout (eds), Cultural Repertoires: Structure, Function and Dynamics, Leuven: Peeters, 2003, pp45-57.
  • "Forbidden Firebrands: Frivolous iqtibas (Quotation from the Qur'an)", Quaderni di Studi Arabi, 20-21 (2002-2003) 3-16.
  • Slave-Girl Lost and Regained: Transformations of a Story", in Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, 18:2 (2004) 201-217.
  • "Poetry in Historiography: Some Observations", in Miklós Maróth (ed.), Problems in Arabic Literature, Piliscsaba, 2004, pp1-13.
  • "Poetry and the Arabian Nights", in Ulrich Marzolph and Richard van Leeuwen, The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2004, pp13-17.
  • "Muhammed b. Sayf al-Din, Ibn Aydamir", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, vol. xiii (Supplement, 2004), p.635.
  • "Muhdathun", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, vol. xiii (Supplement, 2004), pp 637-640.
  • "Nazm. 1. In metrical speech", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, vol. xiii (Supplement, 2004), p.668.
  • "Incest and Inbreeding in Islam", in Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. xiii fasc. 1 (2004), pp4-6.
  • "Incidental Arabic Poetry", in Emilie Savage-Smith, A Descriptive Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts at St John's College, Oxford, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005, pp129-146.
  • Close Relationships: Incest and Inbreeding in Classical Arabic Literature, London: I.B. Tauris, 2005. x, 278pp.
  • "Bashshar b. Burd", in Shawkat M. Toorawa & Michael Cooperson (eds), Arabic Literary Culture, 500-925, Detroit etc., 2005 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol.311), pp91-97.
  • "Dhu al-Rummah (Abu al-Harith Ghaylan ibn 'Uqbah)", in Shawkat M. Toorawa & Michael Cooperson (eds), Arabic Literary Culture, 500-925, Detroit etc., 2005 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 311), pp108-113.
  • Wen-chin Ouyang & Geert Jan van Gelder (eds.), New Perspectives on Arabian Nights: Ideological Variation and Narrative Horizons, London & New York: Routledge, 2005. xv, 143 pp.
  • “Edible Fathers and Mothers: Arabic kunyas used for Food”, in Manuela Marín & Cristina de la Puente, El banquete de las palabras: La alimentación de los textos árabes, Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2005 (Estudios árabes e islámicos, Monografías, 10), pp. 105-120.
  • “Mawalī and Arabic Poetry: Some Observations”, in Monique Bernards & John Nawas (eds), Patronate and Patronage in Early and Classical Islam, Leiden: Brill, 2005 (Islamic History and Civilization: Studies and Texts, 61), pp. 349-369.
  • “Ibn Ḥ ijjah al- Ḥ amawī”, The Chicago On-Line Encyclopedia of Mamluk Studies (3750 words)
  • “An Experiment with Beeston, Labīd and Baššar: On Translating Classical Arabic Verse”, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 36 (2006) 7-15 (Papers from the thirty-ninth meeting of the Seminar for Arabian Studies held in London, 21-23 July 2005).
  • “The Anatomy of Anonymity: The poet Anon. and his reception in Classical Arabic literature”, in Angelika Neuwirth and Andreas Christian Islebe (eds.), Reflections on Reflections: Near Eastern writers reading literature; dedicated to Renate Jacobi, Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2006 (Literaturen im Kkontext, vol. 23), pp. 17-34.
  • (in press) Takhyīl: The Imaginary in Classical Arabic Poetics. Volume 1: Texts, selected, translated and annotated by Geert Jan van Gelder and Marlé Hammond; Volume 2: Studies, edited by Geert Jan van Gelder and Marlé Hammond. Oxford: Oxbow (E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust).
  • (in press) “Buffoons High and Low, or Marginal People at the Centre” [to appear in proceedings of workshop of ESF programme “Individual and Society”, Florence, 1997]
  • (in press) “Disguises in the Maqāmāt of Ibn Nāqiyā (410-485/1020-1092)” [to appear in proceedings of workshop of ESF conference Istanbul, July 1998]
  • (in press) “Brevity and Short Stories in Classical Arabic Literature”, in a volume on Classical Arabic Narrative, ed. by Salma K. Jayyusi .
  • (in press) “Poetic License”, entry in Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics.
  • (in press) “The Antithesis of Urjūza and Badīiyyā: Two Forms of Arabic Versified Stylistics”, in M.A. Harder, A.A. MacDonald and G.J. Reinink, eds., Calliope’s Classroom: Studies in Didactic Poetry from Antiquity to the Renaissance, Leuven: Peeters.
  • (in press) “al- ‘Abbāsī”, “al-Abīwardī”, “Abū Riyāsh”, “Abū Sa‘d al-Makhzūmī”, “’Alī b. Khalaf”, “Ancients and Moderns”, “Apology”, “al-Arrajānī”, for The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Third Edition.
  • (in press) “Kitāb al-Bursān: al-Jahiz on Right- and Lefthandedness”, for the proceedings of the Beirut conference on al-Jahiz, January, 2005.
  • (in press) “Rāgeb Esfahani”, for Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  • (in press) “Al-Ya‘qūbī’s List of Poets”, for a volume with studies on al-Ya‘qūbī, ed. by Matthew Gordon.
  • (in press) “Precious Stones, Precious Words: Al-Suyûtî’s al-Maqâma al-yâqûtiyya, Translated and Annotated”, Arnoud Vrolijk & Jan P. Hogendijk (eds), O ye Gentlemen: Arabic studies on Science and Literary Culture, in Honour of Remke Kruk. Leiden: Brill, 2007, pp. 313-332.
  • (in press) “‘A Good Cause’: Fantastic Etiolog (husn'al't'ta‘līl) in Arabic Poetics”, to be included in Takhyil: The Imaginary in Classical Arabic Poetics (see above).
  • (in press) “The lamp and its Mirror Image: H āzim al-Qartājannī’s Poetry in the Light of his Path of the Eloquent and Lamp of the Lettered”, to be included in Takhyīl: The Imaginary in Classical Arabic Poetics (see above).
  • (in press) “Shihāb al-Dīn al-Khafājī”, for DLB volume on Arabic Literary Culture, 900-1700, ed. by Devin Stewart and Joseph Lowry.
  • (in press) “Amphigory and Other Nonsense in Classical Arabic Literature”, for volume (Lost in Translation) on humour and satire in Arabic, Persian and Turkish literature ed. by Louise Marlow.
  • (in press) “Wine and Women" Two lyrical Poems by āzim al-Qartājannī (d. 684/1285)”, for a Festschrift, ed. by Beatrice Gruendler and Michael Cooperson.
  • (in press) “Literary Criticism as Literature”, for volume The Evolution of Artistic Classical Arabic Prose” ed. by Vahid Behmardi and Lale Behzadi.

Full Publications

Photograph of Geert Jan Van Gelder
List of site pages