Huda Fakhreddine

Umm Kulthum and the Arabic Qasidah: Selection, Curation, and Performance
Mar 28, 2023 at - | Penn Music Building - Lerner 101, 201 S. 34th Street Philadelphia, PA 19104

Huda Fakhreddine

Umm Kulthum and the Arabic Qasidah: Selection, Curation, and Performance

March 28, 2023 (Tuesday) — 5:15 pm to 7:00 pm

Lerner Center
Penn Music Building
201 S. 34th Street, Room 101



The celebrated Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum is one of the most successful re-animators of the Arabic qas̩īda in the twentieth century. Her work reveals a profound understanding of the movement of the qas̩īda from the personal to the public, from reflection to engagement, and from self to other/others. Her selection of poems, her editing of them, and her final performances all attest to her ability to “translate” and “rewrite” the archetypal form for her times, revealing in it a call for outward engagement (social, political, historical) that can only arise from a most personal and inward of postures. Not only evoking the tradition but also striking significant contemporary chords, these poems-turned-songs show how Umm Kulthum rewrote the Arabic qasida and forged powerful statements with deep and lasting reverberations. By studying her selections from pre-modern poetry as well as from the poetry of her contemporaries, my project showcases Umm Kulthum’s understanding the Arabic qas̩īda’s structure and ethos and her ability to activate this archetypal structure on a popular level through selection, abridgment, framing, and performance.



Huda Fakhreddine is associate professor of Arabic literature in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is the author of Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition (Brill, 2015) and The Arabic Prose Poem: Poetic Theory and Practice (Edinburgh University Press, 2021). She is the co-translator of Lighthouse for the Drowning (BOA editions, 2017), The Sky That Denied Me (University of Texas Press, 2020), and Come Take a Gentle Stab: Selections from Salim Barakat (Seagull Books, 2021). Her translations of modern Arabic poems have appeared in Banipal, World Literature Today, Nimrod, ArabLit Quarterly, the Michigan Quarterly Review and others. She is co-editor of Middle Eastern Literatures and an editor of the Library of Arabic Literature.



This event is free and open to the public. If you attend in person, there is no need to register. We ask that you join us in person if at all possible, but for those of you who are unable to physically attend we encourage you to participate via Zoom. Registration link to attend virtually is below:


NOTE: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.



This lecture is part of the 2022-23 Penn Music Colloquium Series. The Department of Music's main Colloquium Series showcases new research by leading scholars in music and sound studies and composers both in the United States and internationally.  All Music Colloquia will take place in Room 101 of the Lerner Center on Tuesdays at 5:15 PM.