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Wolfhart Heinrichs

Wolfhart P. Heinrichs (3 October 1941 – 23 January 2014) was a German-born scholar of Arabic. He was James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic at Harvard University, and a co-editor of the second edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam. He taught Classical Arabic language and literature, particularly Arabic literary theory and criticism.[1]


Wolfhart Heinrichs was born in Cologne into an academic family: his father, H. Matthias Heinrichs, was professor of ancient Germanic studies at the University of Giessen and the Free University of Berlin; his mother, Anne Heinrichs, a lecturer on Old Norse, was made a professor at the Free University at the age of 80.[2]

He was educated at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium in Cologne before studying Islamic studies at the University of Cologne. After a year at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, he continued studying at the Universities of Frankfurt and Giessen. He gained his PhD in 1967 for a thesis on Hazim al-Qartajanni's reception of Aristotelian poetics, and spent a year at the Orient-Institut Beirut.[2]

Heinrichs taught at Giessen from 1968 to 1977, when he went to Harvard University as a visiting lecturer, and in 1978 took up a permanent position there.[1] In 1980 he married Alma Giese, an independent scholar and translator from Arabic. In 1989 he became a co-editor of the new edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, for which he also wrote fifty articles himself.[2] In 1996 he succeeded Muhsin Mahdi as the James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic at Harvard.[1] A Festschrift was published in 2008.[2]


  • Arabische Dichtung und griechische Poetik. Hāzim al-Qartāğannīs Grundlegung d. Poetik mit Hilfe aristotel. Begriffe., Wiesbaden, F. Steiner in Komm., 1969.
  • The hand of the northwind : opinions on metaphor and the early meaning of istiʼāra in Arabic poetics, Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1977.
  • (ed.) Studies in Neo-Aramaic, Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1989.
  • (ed. with J. Christoph Bürgel) Orientalisches Mittelalter, Wiesbaden: AULA-Verlag, 1990.
  • 'Prosimetrical Genres in Classical Arabic Literature', in J. Harris and K. Reichl, eds., Prosimetrum, Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Narrative in Prose and Poetry, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1997, pp. 249–275
  • 'Der Teil und das Ganze: Die Auto-Anthologie Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Ḥillīs', Asiatische Studien 59:3 (2005), pp. 675–696
  • (ed. with Peri Bearman and Bernard G. Weiss) The law applied : contextualizing the Islamic Shari'a: a volume in honor of Frank E. Vogel, London ; New York : I.B. Tauris, 2008.
  • 'Early Ornate Prose and the Rhetorization of Poetry in Arabic Literature', in Frédérique Woerther, ed., Literary and Philosophical Rhetoric in the Greek, Roman, Syriac and Arabic Worlds, Hildesheim etc.: Olms, 2009, 215–234.
  • Heinrichs, W. P.; Allen, R.M.A. (2012). "Arabic poetics". In Greene, Roland; et al. (eds.). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (4th rev. ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 62–65. ISBN 978-0-691-15491-6.


  1. ^ a b c Noy, Avigail. "Wolfhart P. Heinrichs, 1941 - 2014" (PDF). Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Beatrice Gruendler; Michael Cooperson (2008). "Preface". In Beatrice Gruendler and Michael Cooperson (ed.). Classical Arabic Humanities in Their Own Terms: Festschrift for Wolfhart Heinrichs on His 65th Birthday. BRILL. pp. xiii–xix. ISBN 978-90-04-16573-1. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
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Wolfhart Heinrichs
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