Fictionalizing the past: historical characters in Arabic popular epic : workshop held at the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, 28th-29th of November 2007 : in honor of Remke Kruk

The present collection of articles deals with the relation between the Arabic popular epic and 'official' historiography. The Arabic popular epic can be considered as popular history since it represents a way in which a large, but mainly illiterate audience perceives, conceptualizes and commemorates history. Using methods based in literary criticism, modern research has come up with new and refreshing approaches to study the historicity of the heroic literature. The contributors to this volume are all experts in the field of the Arabic popular epic. They examine which narrative structures popular epics share with historiography and how historical characters and events are fictionalized in order to create the story. Each contribution deals with a different epic, including Sirat 'Antar, Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan, al-Iskandar, al-Amira Dhat al-Himma, al-Zahir Baybars, Bani Hilal, and epics in the Thousand and One Nights. One so far rather unknown epic, the Sirat al-Hakim bi-Amrillah, is discussed here in detail for the first time.