Dr. O'Malley's First Book

March 2, 2023
The Poetics of Spiritual Instruction Cover

Dr. Austin O'Malley published his first book, The Poetics of Spiritual Instruction: Farid al-Din ʿAttar and Persian Sufi Didacticism, which seeks to uncover an implicit poetics of didacticism embedded within Sufi homiletic verse. While treating didactic verse more broadly, it focuses on the narrative poetry of ʿAttar (d. c. 1221), whose innovative frame-tale structures allow the poet to reflexively imagine his own poems’ idealized reception. Through a close reading of ʿAttar’s works alongside other religious and literary texts, the monograph argues that didactic speech was approached as a pragmatic utterance that worked on its recipients on a bodily, psychological, and an ontological level, and that readers’ encounters with ʿAttar’s poems functioned as symbolic performances of particular Sufi rituals and social relationships.