"Calm Yourself": Inviting Emotion Management in Early and Medieval Sira Open Access

Yep, Stephanie (Summer 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/5999n460h?locale=en


This dissertation enters into a critical discussion among scholars who are preoccupied with the question of how emotional practices, which sustain prevailing ideologies and social norms, are mediated or taught. Early and medieval biographies of Muḥammad (sīra) offer a fruitful lens for approaching this inquiry as scholars of Islam have identified the genre’s uniquely pedagogical style which served to inspire the Muslim community. My dissertation centers on a cross-textual analysis of five Arabic biographies between the 8th and 12th centuries. Drawing upon resources from narrative and rhetorical theory, the history of emotions, and hagiology, I trace biographers’ efforts to articulate an ethics of emotional practice through a number of narrative strategies, namely, first- and second-person voice, narratives about conflict, poetry, and accounts that portray others’ emotional reactions when in Muḥammad’s presence. Broadly speaking, my research enters into a critical conversation among religionists who are interested in how master narratives and social norms are fortified by emotional rhetoric, and I argue for a shift in theoretical focus to the phenomenon of narrative progression and the interpretive role of implied readers. While there is a rich amount of scholarship on the ways in which sacred biographies function as sources of ethical reflection, specialists in this field have been conspicuously absent from conversations among both historians of emotion and narratologists regarding the crucial role of emotion in the formation of the ethical self. 

Table of Contents

Foreword ______________________________________________1-4

Chapter One: “How to Build a Muslim: Ethico-Emotional Comportment in Early and Medieval Biographies of Muḥammad” _________ 5-43

Chapter Two: “Breaking the Fourth Wall” _______44-69

Chapter Three: “Reading Conflict in the Sīra: An Ethic of Man-to Man Relations” _____ 70-117

Chapter Four: “Eliciting Emotions Through Poetic Verse” ________________________118-151

Chapter Five: “‘Feeling Rules’ in the Presence and Remembrance of Muḥammad” ____152-181 

Conclusion _____________________________________________________________182-188 

Bibliography ____________________________________________________________189-199

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