January  2005, Vol. 6 No. 3


Articles included:

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Public Policy Institute
Founders Day Keynote Speaker to AUB Students: "You are a bridge to tomorrow."
Afghan Government Officials Visit AUB
FHS Anniversary
AUB: Molder of Leaders
Central Bank Governor Optimistic about Lebanon's Monetary Status
Fall Senate Activities

History's John Meloy Leads CAMES
Faculty Profile: Bio-statistician Mona Kanaan Battles Infectious Diseases
Professor Ziyad Mahfoud Joins Faculty of Health Sciences
Women's League Christmas Event: Feathers and Dancing

AUB Computer Engineering Students Win Award

Amin Rihani: Romantic, Spiritualist, Conformist, or Modernist?
AUBMC Surgeon Lectures on Breast Cancer Awareness


Film Star Angelina Jolie Visits Campus
What the West Stole from the East
Watenpaugh Lectures on Emerging Middle Class in Syria

Education, Positive Attitudes, and Democracy
Lecture on The City of God
The Influence of Medieval Islamic Philosophers on Leo Strauss' Philosophy

Islamic Social Institutions in Three Middle Eastern Countries
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Last Play Reading of the Semester
"Seeing the South" Competition
AUB Students Vote for Opposition
Women Athletes Honored
An Athletics Department in Movement
Faculty Football Team
Keeping Zaki Nassif's Music Alive
The AUB Choir and Choral Society's Holiday Concert


check it out

Left to right: Saad Nikro, Kassim Shaaban, Naji Oueijan, Stephen Sheehi

The Anis K. Makdisi Program in Literature, in cooperation with the English Department of AUB, held a panel discussion, "Amin Rihani: Romantic, Spiritualist, Conformist, or Modernist?" on December 1, 2004. The three speakers featured on the panel presented their views on the life and work of this noted Lebanese-American writer, whose famous Book of Khalid, published in 1911, holds the distinction of being the first novel written in English by an Arab author. A major theme in Rihani's work was the dialogue between East and West, particularly between the people of the Arab world and America.

In the first presentation, entitled "Amin Rihani and the Romantic Spirit of Change," Naji Oueijan of Notre Dame University spoke about the influences in Rihani's work, saying  that "among the isms that influenced Rihani, romanticism is paramount... simply because in his personal life and in his major works, Rihani, unlike the modernists, was a romantic pilgrim seeking liberation and awareness of Self and Other." Referring to Rihani's Book of Khalid, Oueijan pointed out that the hero "meets the romantic demands for a quest seeker, distinctive for his rejection of orthodoxy and of narcissistic desires and purposes, and for his acceptance of and participation with difference, in his search for meaning, certitude, and higher values." As such, "Rihani's Khalid is a model of the romantic hero, and particularly of the Byronic one... who sets out on a quest in pursuit of radical change in himself and the world, wrapped with a desire to break away from traditional systems and to revolt against the orthodoxy of a world of man-made conflict...."

In the second presentation, Saadi Nikro discussed the two senses of potential-disposition and historicity-as related to Rihani's writings. Nikro explained that "the disposition of his work, the developing interface of its reading and writing, lies between two conceptually identifiable, open-ended entities-Occident and Orient, West and East-two geographical and cultural spheres whose differences, for Rihani, always remain curiously undecidable, whose differences lie in the potential." He added that Rihani's work "embodies an experience of traveling across and between those worlds, a reciprocating journey that does not assume either the Orient or the Occident as a privileged lookout or point of departure."

Nikro then considered the contrast with Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations and concluded that for Rihani, "there can be no closure to history or historical understanding, no form of objective analytics that can render history exhaustively meaningful and knowable."

In the third paper, entitled "The Path of Vision and the Anxiety of Arab Vision in the Modern Age," Stephen Sheehi of AUB explained that Rihani, in The Path of Vision, "makes clear that modernity is the champion of enlightenment ideals: intellectual and personal freedom, science, and the death of superstition." Sheehi went on to say that, according to Rihani's views, however, "...the disconnect between reality and experience, between the soul and the mind, is linked to a loss of vision for the West. If the Western mind is superior, he would say, its ability for progress impairs it to see the sublime... and the barbarism of the East that damns it to backwardness also offers the Oriental mind access to the transcendental."

Sheehi said that Rihani was "an undaunting supporter of women's emancipation" and that, in Rihani's opinion, "psychology helps modern man understand his condition, but to understand the most 'inner strata' we must proceed blindly. This critical blindness serves an essential cognitive purpose."


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