This course examines the relationship between political critique and the textual production of possible worlds, taking the Arabic literary canon as its example. Among the key concepts analyzed will be history, time, language, and selfhood. Students will experiment with appropriately using concepts from modern critical theory in the analysis of premodern and modern Arabic literary texts. Readings include Qur’anic apocalyptic suras, the philosophical novel Hayy ibn Yaqzan, Sindbad the Sailor and other travel narratives, al-Maʿarri’s satirical narrative of a visit to the afterlife, trickster tales of the maqama genre. We then turn to the merging of novelistic forms, selfhoods, and conceptions of political organization with those of the maqama in early novels by al-Muwaylihi and al-Shidyaq, ending with contemporary conceptual art and a dystopic novel.