Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Written Arts; Historical Studies; Middle Eastern Studies
Project Advisor 1
Project Advisor 2
History and its sources allows us to create heroes and villains, to understand successes and failures, to make sense of events that “happen” to us. The Second Crusade in its own right was the first Muslim victory against a foreign invader after a very serious loss of land to colonial states, and sparked a contemporary formation of the now well-known term, “jihad.” During this period we see a surge in historical sources in the form of chronicles that were actively attempting to record an absolute history of Islamic victory in the face of invasion. However these chronicle-histories can also be seen as a way to understand and re-shape contemporary events as they happened in real time. This project’s purpose is similar to the project of these twelfth century Syrian chroniclers.
My aim is to critically analyze how and why source material used the specific frameworks and biases they chose to in a historical context, as well as to actively deconstruct my family’s as well as my own personal memories and biases through the process of reimagining them in the creation of my own chronicle. Both the chronicles that I choose to study as well as my own are endeavors into understanding the complications of one’s Middle Eastern (and Islamic) history as well as the possible comforts of reforming real people into a certain narrative framework. Historically this study will look specifically at the chronicles of Al-Qalanisi, Ibn al-Athir, and Usama Ibn Munqidh in an attempt to better understand their imaginings of the Atabeg Imad al-Din Zengi, his son Nur al-Din, and both “Orientalized Franks” as well as the New Franks moving in to the area, and the ways in which their portrayals are stylized and constructed to fit into much larger themes of pride in Islam and jihad. Creatively this study will be a recreation of the stories and memories I have from my childhood into a larger piece that is both an attempt to deconstruct the way my extended Syrian family has been described to me, and a new construction of my own experience of them. In this way I will be conducting the much larger study of the writing of personal and narrative histories around Middle Eastern identity, and the complicated practice of trying to construct pride or lack thereof through such an endeavor.
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Kayas, Leya Mary, "Books of Contemplation: Identity through the Chronicle Form" (2015). Senior Projects Spring 2015. 258.