Khamriyya as a World Poetic Genre: Comparative Perspectives on Wine Poetry in Near and Middle Eastern Literatures

Collaborative Research Initiative

Department of Arabic and Persian, University of St Andrews

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge

Main Objectives 

The project is a collaborative initiative of the School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. It aims at exploring the history of wine poetry in various Near and Middle Eastern literatures from its origins in the 6th century up until the early modern period.

Khamriyya represents along with ghazal a major form of poetic expression in various literary traditions including Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac, Ethiopian, Armenian, Georgian and Ottoman Turkish. Historical diversity and aesthetic versatility of khamriyya defined its development over many centuries in different cultural, religious and social contexts. In order to reveal the richness and importance of khamriyya as a world poetic genre, the initiative applies a comparative approach, which will help understand the transformations of the genre throughout different periods of literary history and across diverse cultural and linguistic milieus.

The initiative welcomes contributions exploring various aspects of wine poetry in comparative perspective of Near and Middle Eastern literatures with the focus on the following topics:

1.   Recusancy and transgression: wine poetry challenging cultural, social and religious norms of the society.

2.   Imagery and stylistics: aesthetic transformations in the history of wine poetry.

3.   Adoption and transmission: wine poetry crossing linguistic and cultural borders.


The initiative will be conducted in 2014 – 2017 in form of lecture series, research workshops in St Andrews and Cambridge, and a conference in Beirut.

The initiative is supported by the Honeyman Foundation (St Andrews) and various research funding at FAMES (Cambridge). The results of this collaborative research will be published in a dedicated volume or special issue of a journal.