Arab Studies Institute
Washington DC - Beirut
May 28, 2014
The name Al-Diwan was chosen because of its flexible meaning, which is left open for interpretation. In both Persian and Arabic, diwan may represent a collection of poetry or prose. Egyptian poet Ibrahim al-Mazini once defined the meaning of diwan as a collection of poetry in which people “write down what wells up in their minds in their happiest hours—and what makes man hover over life, forcing him to feel what he has seen, to see what he has felt, to imagine what he has known, and to know what he has imagined.”
Yet, the meaning of diwan does not limit itself to poetry or letters alone. In another interpretation of the Arabic word, it may also represent a chamber or a council. In this regard, the blog represents a chamber of discussions, analyses, and interpretations of the debates in academia, publishing, and knowledge production, which Al-Diwan wishes to unearth and shed light on. By bringing these topics to the center of the chamber, topics and arguments that may often be sidelined or not fully developed, Al-Diwan creates an open space for discussion.
By combining these two meanings of a chamber and collection of thought, Al-Diwan seeks to put the interrogation of intellect into words and present them to an audience so that they may be provoked and developed. Al-Diwan will act as a forum in which topics focusing on academia, publishing, literature, translation between cultures and knowledge production are interrogated and brought to light. The blog’s focus is intentionally ambiguous so that topics on the peripheral of the above mentioned genres may be included.
The content of Al-Diwan, written in both English and Arabic, will be driven by weekly roundups of news and analyses in publishing and academia and discussions on current events in these fields.