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Profs & Pints DC: Arabic Literature’s Drinking Buddies

January 17, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0

$2 – $12.

Profs and Pints DC presents: “Arabic Literature’s Drinking Buddies,” with Jennifer Tobkin, Teaching Assistant Professor of Arabic at George Washington University.

[Under current District of Columbia regulations attendees will be required to wear a mask except while eating or drinking. The Bier Baron will be requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test from the previous 72 hours for entry. It also will be requiring ticketed event attendees to purchase a minimum of two items, which can be food or beverages, including soft drinks.]

You might not yet know what a nadim is, but by the end of this talk you might end up wishing you had one. Come to this crash course on the nadim by Dr. Jennifer Tobkin, a scholar and teacher of Arabic literature, and you also might find yourself eager to become an avid reader of Arabic stories and poems.

One of many words with slightly different connotations that roughly mean “friend” in the Arabic language, nadim is sometimes translated as “boon companion.” It refers to a person who was paid to accompany a ruler or other wealthy person in recreational activities—especially those involving conversation and wine.

As Professor Tobkin will explain, the nadim—something like a professional friend—had considerable freedom to break the rules of society, but also occupied a fairly precarious position. His relationship to his patron was as much an obstacle to true friendship as a conduit to it. The nadīm’s handbook written by the 10th century Arab court poet Kushājim, offered detailed instructions on how a nadim could fulfill the various duties and navigate table etiquette, hunting, chess, drinking parties, and of course, witty conversation.

We’ll learn the ways of the nadim, and how historical sources tell us of the adventures and talents of some famous men who served in that role to rulers of the Abbasid dynasty, which ruled from Baghdad from the eighth century until the 13th century. Among them, Abū Nuwās, nadim to Caliph al-Amīn, is known for his poetry about wine and about risqué interactions with cupbearers of both sexes. In some poems, he even praised the Devil.

Becoming familiar with the nadim represents a great introduction to Arabic literature, opening up to you an entirely new world of thought and experience. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)


January 17, 2022
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
$2 – $12.
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Profs and Pints
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The Bier Baron Tavern
1523 22nd Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20037 United States
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202 293-1888
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