Friday, February 9, 2018

Word, World and Lexicon:
The Case of the Arabic Names of the Lion
Friday, February 23
7:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center
Room 4406
The project of lexicography is to catalogue the semantic resources of language. In so doing, it serves a collateral function of classifying the contents of the world—especially where thematic organization (and not alphabetic order) is its structuring principle, as is the case with much of Arabic lexicography in its seminal Early Abbasid period (9th-10th centuries CE). The severally-repeated feat of cataloguing all the Arabic epithets and names for lion is the occasion for my talk about applications of pre-modern lexicography in cultural studies, with special focus on the disciplinary margins where natural history and language science overlap, and the semiotics of the lion in patterns of interspecies interaction.

David Larsen is a scholar and translator of Classical Arabic texts. Last year, his translation of the Names of the Lion by Ibn Khālawayh (d. 980 CE) was released in a new edition by Wave Books. His Ph.D. in Comparative Literature is from U.C. Berkeley, and he is currently a Clinical Professor of Liberal Studies at NYU. His translation blog may be consulted at