- Classical Arabic Literature
- Classical Arabic Literary Theory
- Comparative Poetics
Lara Harb’s research focuses on classical Arabic literature and literary theory. Her interests include comparative poetics and different conceptions of the “literary”, the reception of Aristotle’s Poetics in Arabic, and the mutual influence of Arabic and Persian literatures. Her first book, Arabic Poetics: Aesthetic Experience in Classical Arabic Literature (2020), makes the novel argument that wonder became the defining aesthetic experience of poetic language in classical Arabic literary theory. This aesthetic began to manifest itself in post-10th-century works on poetic criticism, the miraculousness of the Quran, and philosophy, representing a major paradigm shift from earlier criticism whose critical framework was based on notions of truthfulness and naturalness. Her current book project, tentatively titled Mimesis in Classical Arabic Literature, for which Harb has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, investigates conceptions of literary representation and its relationship with reality in classical Arabic literature.
Harb has taught undergraduate courses on Marvels and Wonder in Classical Arabic Literature, the Nature of Reality in Medieval Arabic Literature, and The Arabian Nights, as well as graduate courses on Arabic poetry, Arabic literary theory, and the Maqāmāt.
Harb joined the faculty of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton in 2015, prior to which she was an assistant professor at Dartmouth College. She earned a PhD in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University and a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University. Her PhD dissertation won the S. A. Bonebakker Prize for the best PhD thesis in Classical Arabic Literature in 2014.
Listen to an interview with Prof. Harb about her book: Arabic Poetics
Harb, Lara. “Arabic Literary Theory.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Oxford University Press. Article published 7/1/2020.
"Beyond the Known Limits: Ibn Dawūd al-Isfahānī’s Chapter on ‘Intermedial’ Poetry," in Arabic Humanities, Islamic Thought: A Festschrift for Everett K. Rowson, edited by Shawkat Toorawa and Joseph Lowry. Leiden: Brill, 2017.