Courses

ARAB 101(F)Elementary Arabic

This is the first course in the year-long Beginning Arabic sequence. It will help you establish a foundation of communicative competence and understanding of the Arabic language and culture. The course adopts an integrated-skills approach with a focus on "formal Arabic" (or so-called Modern Standard Arabic), the language of formal writing and speech in Arab countries, while simultaneously familiarizing you with one variety of spoken Arabic. The course focuses on day-to-day situations and familiar topics. [ more ]

ARAB 102(S)Elementary Arabic

This is the second semester of the Beginning Arabic sequence. It builds on the foundation of Arabic competence that you established in Arabic 101, and will continue to develop your competence in Modern Standard Arabic and one variety of spoken Arabic. The course will continue to focus on day-to-day situations and familiar topics from the immediate environment while expanding the range of topics, tenses, pronouns, and materials that students will learn and deploy in their daily engagement with the course content. The second term will broaden the scope of linguistic and cultural tasks students are expected to perform. [ more ]

ARAB 111Movers and Shakers in the Middle East

Last offered Fall 2017

This course examines the careers, ideas, and impact of leading politicians, religious leaders, intellectuals, and artists in the Middle East in the twentieth century. Utilizing biographical studies and the general literature on the political and cultural history of the period, this course will analyze how these individuals achieved prominence in Middle Eastern society and how they addressed the pertinent problems of their day, such as war and peace, relations with Western powers, the role of religion in society, and the status of women. A range of significant individuals will be studied, including Gamal Abd al-Nasser, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Ayatollah Khomeini, Muhammad Mussadiq, Umm Khulthum, Sayyid Qutb, Anwar Sadat, Naghuib Mahfouz, and Huda Shaarawi. [ more ]

ARAB 201(F)Intermediate Arabic I

This course will build on the students' acquisitions in Arabic 102 to consolidate their learning of the Modern Standard Arabic and one variety of spoken Arabic. In addition to expanding students' vocabulary and enhancing their communication skills, the course will deepen their knowledge and use of grammar in both speaking and writing. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to hold conversations in Arabic with some fluency on a variety of topics while developing cultural appreciation of Arabic-speaking countries. [ more ]

ARAB 202(S)Intermediate Arabic II

As a continuation of ARAB 201, this course will expose students to Modern Standard Arabic and one variety of spoken Arabic while increasing their cultural literacy in Arab civilization. Our main textbook will be Al-Kitaab fii Ta'allum al-'Arabiyya Part II but outside materials from diverse media such as television and newspapers will also be included. Class will be conducted in Arabic. [ more ]

ARAB 207The Modern Middle East

Last offered Fall 2019

This survey course addresses the main economic, religious, political and cultural trends in the modern Middle East. Topics to be covered include the cultural diversity of the Middle East, relations with Great Powers, the impact of imperialism, the challenge of modernity, the creation of nation states and nationalist ideologies, the discovery of oil, radical religious groups, and war and peace. Throughout the course these significant changes will be evaluated in light of their impact on the lives of a variety of individuals in the region and especially how they have grappled differently with increasing Western political and economic domination. [ more ]

ARAB 209(S)Saharan Imaginations

Literary representations of the Sahara challenge facile assumptions about this undertheorized place. Approached mainly through the prism of adventure and exploitation, the desert is portrayed as a dead space. However, literature and film furnish a unique opportunity to engage critically with the ways Maghrebi and Middle Eastern culture production represents deserts and raises issues of fundamental importance to these societies. This course offers students the opportunity to engage in close readings of novels and film through the theme of the Sahara and Saharan space. Reading through the politics of human mobility and life in the desert will help students to understand how myth, memory, history, coloniality/postcoloniality, and a strong sense of ethics are deeply intertwined in the Saharan sub-genre of African and Middle Eastern literatures. Whether grappling with transcontinental issues of climate change, cannibalization of biodiversity or overexploitation of natural resources, the Saharan novel invites us to think critically about the politics of space and place as well as mobility and spatial control as they relate to this supposedly dead nature. Deconstructing reductive Saharanism, students will see the desert for what it is, rather than what it is portrayed to be or stand for. [ more ]

ARAB 210The Challenge of ISIS

Last offered Spring 2017

What is ISIS and what does it want? Using historical and anthropological sources and perspectives, the course considers the origins, ideology and organization of the Islamic State. Beginning with an examination of early radical movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Afghan mujahidin and Taliban, and al-Qaeda, the course will go on to investigate how ISIS derives important aspects of its ideology and organization from these earlier movements and how it deviates from them. We will look at unique aspects of the movement, such as its use of social media, its extensive destruction of ancient historical sites, its staging of spectacles of violence, and its recruitment of Muslims from Europe and North America. We will also examine the ideological constitution of the movement, including its attitude toward and treatment of non-Muslims, its conceptualization of itself as a modern incarnation of the original Islamic caliphate, the ways in which it justifies its use of violence, and its apocalyptic vision of the present-day as End Time. Finally, we will evaluate current responses to ISIS, in the West and among Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, in terms of their effectiveness and strategic coherence. [ more ]

ARAB 211Understanding 9/11 and the War in Iraq

Last offered Spring 2020

What were some of the causes of 9/11/2001 and what were some of the consequences? Why and how did the United States invade Iraq in 2003 and what impact did the subsequent occupation of that country have on the rest of the Middle East? In this course on recent political and cultural international history, that will also consider this history in film and popular culture, the monumental ramifications of the "War on Terror" will be considered and how this framework has shaped the 21st century. In the first part of the course, US-Middle Eastern relations will be explored and the eventual emergence of al-Qaeda in the late 1990s. Then the terrorist attacks on American soil on 9/11 will be studied and the ensuing wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Particular attention will be on the prelude to the Iraq War, especially how that war was justified and rationalized, and the eventual occupation of Iraq. The myriad Iraqi responses will be studied along with American military experience. Finally, the course will evaluate the significance of the first decade of the 21st century and how these events continue to reverberate today. [ more ]

ARAB 212 TDistant Encounters: East Meets West in the Art of the European Middle Ages

Last offered Spring 2020

In this tutorial, students will investigate the rich artistic consequences -- in architecture, manuscript illumination, mosaic, sculpture, panel painting, fresco, metalwork, and other minor arts -- of European contact with the Eastern Mediterranean between approximately 300 and 1450 CE. From the beginnings of Christianity, pilgrims from Europe made the long journey to sacred sites in the Holy Land (extending across parts of present-day Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Turkey). When these sites became less accessible with the spread of Islam in the seventh century, Europeans sought to recreate the sites at home. Later, from 1095 onward, Christian Europeans attempted to reclaim and hold the Holy Land from non-Christians by force, through an ill-fated series of five major and several lesser "crusades." Over the centuries, before, during, and after the Crusades, exposure to the peoples, ideas, and cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean also came through trade and through the travel and settlement of non-Europeans in Europe itself, particularly in Spain, Sicily, and Venice. Together, through open discussion, we will explore artistic production within each of these different cross-cultural contexts of East-West encounter. In the process, we will reflect on how art could function as a conduit for the exchange of ideas in the Middle Ages, and how it could be used both to negotiate and to intensify cultural difference. [ more ]

ARAB 215 TThe Veil: History and Interpretations

Last offered Spring 2020

This tutorial will consider the history and the changing meanings of the veil (hijab) and its many manifestations (e.g. burqa, chador, niqab), starting with the earliest religious traditions and the status of women in Islamic law. We will then proceed to examine imperialist and orientalist representations of gender in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic feminism and finally consider the emergence and return of the veil in recent years in the Middle East, North America, Asia and Europe. [ more ]

ARAB 222Photography in/of the Middle East

Last offered Spring 2020

Photography has been globally disseminated and locally inflected since its invention. In the Middle East, the powers and pleasures of the medium have been valued by colonial forces, indigenous populations, photojournalists and artists; the resulting images merit aesthetic and art historical appreciation even as they grant visual access to the social and political dynamics operative in diverse cultural contexts. We will explore photographic practices in various zones of the Middle East--e.g., the Holy Land, Turkey, Egypt and the Persian sphere--by attending to individual photographers and case studies. This tightly focused approach will support, in turn, a consideration of the agency and power of images more generally--what work do photographs do? Who resists and who benefits? The goal will be to appreciate diverse styles and perspectives that underlie renderings of the Middle East. [ more ]

ARAB 224Second Language Learning: The Learner, the Classroom, and the Social World

Last offered Spring 2017

Learning a second language is one of the most exhilarating, rewarding, and eye-opening experiences of a life-time. Millions of people around the globe embark on a journey of exploration of target languages and cultures while reflecting on the self and home culture(s) in the process. This course introduces you to core issues related to the learning of a second language. What are the processes involved in learning a second language? What does it mean to know another language? Is second language learning similar to first language learning? Why are some language learners more successful than others? What individual variables do learners bring to the learning process? How can classrooms facilitate second language learning? How do learners perceive teachers' feedback? How does the specific socio-cultural context impact language learning? How does learning about the target culture feed into language learning? How does the learner's identity evolve in the process of second language learning? These are some key second language learning questions that we will examine in this class. Readings are drawn from studies on the learning of different languages. [ more ]

ARAB 227Language and Society: What Does Your Speech Say About You?

Last offered Fall 2017

Sociolinguistics is the study of how aspects of society influence the way language is used by the society members. In this course, we will examine the inter-relationships between the way language is used in various social contexts affecting that usage. How and why do languages change? How does language reflect a person's identity? How does language intersect with power relations among individuals within a society? Does language vary according to gender? How are language varieties formed, and what determines their status within speech communities? How and why do speakers code-switch among different varieties? These are some key questions that we will examine in this class, drawing on readings that focus on different languages. [ more ]

ARAB 230Who was Muhammad?

Last offered Fall 2016

Considered the Messenger of God, Muhammad is a central character of the Islamic tradition and has been the object of love and devotion for centuries. Recent outbursts sparked by controversial cartoons depicting Muhammad have made clear that he remains a revered and controversial figure even today. This course takes a critical historical perspective to the biographies of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Rather than focus on the "facts" of his life, we will think about the ways in which historical context, political interests, and shifting conceptions of religion have influenced the way in which Muhammad has been imagined and remembered. We will also consider the ways in which Muslim and non-Muslims biographies of Muhammad are intertwined and interdependent, often developing in tandem with one another. By exploring Muslim and non-Muslim, pre-modern and modern accounts of Muhammad's life, we will think about the many ways in which Muhammad's life has been told and re-told over the centuries. In this course we will consider some of the following depictions of Muhammad: Muhammad as the object of ritual devotion; Muhammad as statesman and military leader; Muhammad's polygynous marriages and his young wife, Aisha; Muhammad as social reformer and revolutionary. Course readings will include pre-modern biographies (in translation) as well as contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim biographies. [ more ]

ARAB 234What is Islam?

Last offered Fall 2018

This course introduces students to Islam as a varied and contested historical tradition. The course will trace the historical development of Islam, focusing on religious and intellectual thought, political developments, and the practices and lived lives of Muslims. We will begin with situating the rise of Islam within the context of late antiquity, followed by an examination of the life of Muhammad, and the rise of Muslim empires. These developments will form the framework through which we investigate the theological, philosophical, legal, mystical, and literary writings of Muslims from the classical to the early modern periods of Islamic history. The main aim of the course is to develop a framework for understanding the historical developments through which Muslims have constructed ideas about normativity, authority, and orthodoxy in debates around Islam. Sources will include pre-modern historical and religious texts (in translation). [ more ]

ARAB 236(S)Reading the Qur'an

In the nearly 1500 years of Islamic history, the Qur'an has been a central source of spiritual insight, ethical and legal guidance, sacred stories, and theological principles. Considered the divine word of God, the Qur'an is central to devotional life. This course will explore the Qur'an as a text that is always in a state of production. We will focus significantly on close readings of the text of the Qur'an, in addition to pre-modern and modern Qur'anic exegesis. The course will begin with a historical account of the revelation and collection of the Qur'an, placing the form and content of the text in the context of 7th century Arab society and the life of the Prophet. We will then study Qur'anic commentaries to discuss how Muslims have drawn theological, legal, philosophical, and mystical meaning from the Qur'an. We will pose some of the following questions: What do the different exegetical methods tell us about the intertextual nature of the Qur'an? How have these shifting notions affected the meaning made from Qur'anic verses and passages? What role do interpretive communities play in determining what the Qur'an says? Lastly, through an exploration of the art of Qur'an recitation, calligraphy, and Qur'an manuscripts, we will explore the ways in which the Qur'an is also an object of devotion in Muslim life. [ more ]

ARAB 242(S)Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Islam

The figure of the Muslim woman is an object of intense scrutiny in Western society. Claims that Muslim women are oppressed and the incompatibility of Islam and feminism abound. This course will consider women and gender roles in the Islamic tradition and how Muslim women have interpreted and negotiated these discourses. We will explore questions of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality across various historical periods as well as through contemporary Muslim feminist scholarship and literature (including film and novels). We will begin with insights into the politics of representing Muslim women, exploring how Muslim women are depicted in popular culture and media and ask the crucial question: do Muslim women need saving? We will then explore: how Muslim women have claimed religious authority through scriptural interpretation; how they have negotiated their position in Islamic law both historically and in contemporary Muslim societies; and the lives of pious women in Sufism--the mystical tradition of Islam. We will conclude with Muslim feminist scholarship and recent works on Islamic masculinities. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on the diversity of interpretations in Islam around women, gender, and sexuality and on Muslim women's own articulations about their religious identity and experiences. Some of the topics covered in this course include: marriage and divorce, slavery, modesty and veiling, and homosexuality. [ more ]

ARAB 243Islamic Law: Past and Present

Last offered Fall 2018

From fear of the Shari'a to its implementation in so called "Islamic countries," Islamic law is perhaps best associated with draconian punishments and the oppression of women. Islamic law is ever present in our public discourse today and yet little is known about it. This course is designed to give students a foundation in the substantive teachings of Islamic law. Islamic law stretches back over 1400 years and is grounded in the Quran, the life example of the Prophet Muhammad, and juridical discourse. Teetering between legal and ethical discourse, the Shari'a moves between what we normally consider law as well as ethics and etiquette. The course will explore four key aspects of the law: its historical development, its ethical and legal content, the law in practice, and the transformation of Islamic law through colonialism and into the contemporary. Specific areas we will cover include: ritual piety, family and personal status law, criminal law, and dietary rules. [ more ]

ARAB 249Trauma and Memory in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern Literatures

Last offered Fall 2019

Arabic literature produced in the Maghreb and the Middle East has always engaged with the socio-political concerns of different Arab societies. Whether caused by the colonial state(s) or by post-independence leadership, trauma has been a central theme in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern literature for a long time. Using a combination of memoirs, films, and fictional works, this course aims to raise students' critical awareness and aesthetic appreciation of literary representations of the multiple traumas inflicted on people and societies in the Maghreb and the Middle East. The different novels and films assigned in this course will be read against seminal literature on memory and trauma studies to answer the following questions: how does Arabic literature remember? In what ways does Arabic literature engage with the past sequelae of colonialism, dictatorship, war, and displacement? How do Arabic novelists and memoirists dialogue with memory and trauma theory even though Arabic scholarship has given short shrift to trauma and memory ethics and aesthetics? What events or experiences are pivotal to collective and individual traumas represented in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern literature(s)? [ more ]

ARAB 256Arab and Anglophone: Narratives Beyond Nation and Diaspora

Last offered Spring 2015

This course takes a close look at contemporary Anglophone Arab writings. The objective is to familiarize students with major Arab writers, and/or writers of Arab descent who live in the Anglo-Saxon diaspora, especially the UK, North America and Australia. We will investigate the work of these writers with special attention to the history of Arab migration to these geographies, and the emergence of hyphenated Arab identities and literatures. At the heart of this course is a desire to not only shed light on what it means to be an Arab or an immigrant producing English literature, but also to understand the multiple ways in which we conceptualize and seek to define what transnational literature means. Texts for this course may include novels by the following writers: Rabih Alameddine (Lebanon/USA), Mohja Kahf (Syria/USA), Leila Aboulela (Sudan/UK), Hisham Matar (Libya/UK), and Randa Abdel-Fattah (Palestine-Egypt/Australia). There will also be a course reader that includes critical essays, poems, as well as a number of films and selections of music that shed light on the different articulations of being Arab and Anglophone. [ more ]

ARAB 257Iran, Islam, and the Last Great Revolution

Last offered Fall 2018

The title and inspiration for this course comes from Robin Wright's book The Last Great Revolution. Wright argues that the 1979 Revolution in Iran completes the promise of the Modern Era, "launched in the West" but "adopted by or adapted to all other parts of the world." The overthrow of 2500 years of monarchy "paved the way for using Islam to push for empowerment." It is this empowerment, of nations and of ordinary individuals, that stands as the signal quality of modernity. The notion that post revolutionary Iran offers an alternative path to modernity is hardly conventional wisdom in the United States or Europe, where images of men draped in religious passion and women in forbidding black chadors are as common as the belief that the 1979 Revolution set Iran spinning back thirteen centuries in time. If westerners do not view Iran as entirely anti-modern, then at best they see it as a country filled with "paradoxes" and "puzzles," one in which indie rock bands play underground, figuratively and literally beneath the feet of retrograde religious fanatics, or unveiled women attend all-night parties only to slip back into proper hejab the next morning. The class will ask you to consider why these assumptions exist, whether they are the symptoms of a western civilization "clashing" with the east, and if they are exclusive to the United States or Europe. Does there also exist an "orientalism in reverse," a negative gaze of Iranians towards the west and towards their fellow, "backwards" citizens? [ more ]

Taught by: Shervin Malekzadeh

Catalog details

ARAB 259Bilad al-Sudan and Beyond: Arts of the Afro-Islamic World

Last offered Spring 2020

From the Swahili stone houses of East Africa to the massive earth and timber mosques of the Sahel, the story of Islam in Africa is one of cultural and spiritual hybridity expressed through material form. In this course, students will explore how artistic forms and traditions in Africa have functioned as vehicles of access and integration for Islam, enabling it to assimilate itself with numerous African contexts towards becoming the dominant religious force on the continent. In addition, students will investigate how the forms, functions, and meanings of Afro-Islamic objects across the continent reflect not just one African Islam, but many different iterations, each shaped by the specific frameworks of its cultural context. The contemporary component of the course will examine how modernity in the form of globalization, technology, and Westernization has affected Afro-Islamic artistic traditions, and how these shifts reflect larger evolutions within understandings of Islam in Africa in the contemporary period. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 261Comparative Postcolonial Narratives: Novels from the Arab World, Latin-America and the Caribbean

Last offered Spring 2016

In this introductory course to the global postcolonial novel, we will examine novels in translation from the Arab world, Latin America and the Caribbean that are in conversation with each other. Through textual and formal analysis of selected novels in translation, we will ask questions concerning the legacy of the different forms of European colonialism in these distinct geographies. This course has two goals: First, to familiarize students with classical, canonical and popular Arabic, Latin American and Caribbean novels that deal with the history of European colonialism and/or its aftermath. Second, to introduce student to some of the critical trends and theoretical debates concerning the potential and limits of reading these novels as resistance and/or postcolonial literature. In addition to selected critical essays, the readings for this course may include novels by the following writers: Assia Djebar (Algeria), Gamal al-Ghitani (Egypt), Sahar Khalifah (Palestine), Tayyib Saleh (Sudan), Alejo Carpentier (Cuba), Rosario Castellanos (Mexico), Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua), and Gabriel García Marquez (Colombia). [ more ]

ARAB 267International Relations of the Middle East

Last offered NA

This course provides an overview of the international relations of the Middle East, with a special focus on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present. Students will learn about the region's geopolitical significance from both an historical and political science perspective. The first part of the course focuses primarily on the Middle East's impact on the international system throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, while the second part of the course examines contemporary issues. In substantive terms, the class covers the rise of the Zionist movement; the effects of the First World War on the Middle East; the international politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict; the geopolitics of the area's energy resources; the Cold War in the Middle East; the causes and consequences of the Iranian Revolution; the rise of Islamist movements; the Arab Spring; terrorism; the specter of nuclear proliferation in the area; the Syrian conflict; and the role of the United States in the Middle East. By the end of the term, students should have an enhanced understanding of the major dilemmas related to the region's place in the international system. [ more ]

ARAB 278The Golden Road to Samarqand

Last offered Fall 2016

The region stretching from present day Iran to India figures prominently in contemporary global culture but it also has a rich and complex history--an amalgamation of Persian, Turkish and Islamic influences. Home to Genghis Khan and Timur (Tamerlane), Akbar the Great and Shah Jahan, it has generated some of the most renowned monuments (e.g. the Taj Mahal and the blue tiled mosques of Isfahan) and refined manuscript painting ever known. We will cover a broad swath of time--from the 10th to the 20th century--concentrating on important centers of artistic production such as Timurid Central Asia and Mughal India. Students will have the opportunity to study original works of art in the college museum collections. [ more ]

ARAB 280Islam and Anthropology

Last offered Spring 2016

If anthropology has helped to define Islam in global thought, Islam has returned the favor, holding a critical mirror to the anthropological endeavor perhaps more than any other traditional "object" of study. This course examines anthropological studies of Islamic societies for what they teach us both about Islam and about anthropology. We begin with foundational social theorists whose studies of religious phenomena helped give rise to the field of anthropology of religion. We then survey influential efforts to construct "ideal-type" models of Muslim society based on anthropological and historical knowledge, alongside efforts to critique, historicize, and redirect the model-building project (notably by Talal Asad and Edward Said). The second half of the course is devoted to ethnographies that explore, from a variety of perspectives and in several regions (Morocco, India, Egypt, Syria), questions of human agency, hierarchy and resistance, and Islam as discursive resource, ethical project, and embodied community. [ more ]

ARAB 301(F)Advanced Arabic 1

A continuation of Intermediate Arabic, ARAB 301 aims to expand students' listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills in Arabic. The course will also stimulate students' intellectual curiosity about the Arabic-speaking regions and enhance their intercultural competence. Using Al-Kitaab as well as a variety of authentic written and audiovisual materials, the course will advance their proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic and one variety of Colloquial Arabic. The course will also encourage students to engage critically with a wide variety of topics in Arabic language as they enrich their knowledge of the different aspects of Arabic language and culture. Students at this stage will also be assisted to generate more complex written and oral assignments. [ more ]

ARAB 302(S)Advanced Arabic 2

A continuation of Advanced Arabic 1, ARAB 302 aims to reinforce students' listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills in Arabic through a deeper engagement with authentic materials in Modern Standard Arabic. Built around a plethora of texts and audiovisual materials, the course seeks to assist students to develop their language and critical thinking skills in Arabic. Situated at the intersection of language learning and content teaching, this course will prepare students for more scholarly engagement with and in MSA in the fourth year. Like ARAB 301, the course will be conducted entirely in Arabic. [ more ]

ARAB 307(F)To Die For? Nationalism in the Middle East

In 1932, or twelve years into his rule and twelve years after the establishment of Iraq, King Faysal I lamented that there were "no Iraqi people but only unimaginable masses of human beings, devoid of any patriotic idea, imbued with religious traditions and absurdities, connected by no common tie." This course will consider how true the King's statement still holds by evaluating the various attempts at state and nation building in the modern Middle East. Some of the more prominent questions that this course will examine include: What is a nation? What are essential characteristics of a nation? Who are a people? Why are people ready to die for the nation? And who is included and excluded in the nationalist narrative? After assessing some of the more influential theories of nationalism, we will explore the historical experience of nationalism and national identity in Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. What has been at the basis of nationhood? How did European concepts of nation translate into the Middle Eastern context? What was the role of religion in these modern societies? How did traditional notions of gender effect concepts of citizenship? We will also explore some of the unresolved issues facing the various nations of the Middle East, such as unfulfilled nationalist aspirations, disputes over land and borders, and challenges to sovereignty. [ more ]

ARAB 308The Nile

Last offered Spring 2019

For millennia, the Nile River has sustained civilizations in eastern and northern Africa. It is the only reason that Egyptians have been able to live in the Sahara Desert. It was at the banks of this river that some of the most significant human structures were built and some of the most beautiful artworks conceived. The Nile provided the silt and hence the alluvial soils on which all the great Egyptian empires were founded. Yet now in the 21st century, the Nile River is at a historical turning point. The water level and quality is dwindling while at the same time the number of people who rely on the river is ever increasing. This course will consider the history of the Nile and the peoples and cultures it has sustained. After a brief overview of the role of the river in ancient Egypt, we will explore the modern political and cultural history of the Nile. Who lives along this river and what kind of cultures have developed in the Nile valley? We will evaluate the numerous attempts to manage and control the Nile and the continuous efforts to utilize the river for human development such as agriculture and the tourism industry. At the end of the semester we will consider the relationship of the mega city Cairo with the Nile and whether the tensions among Nile riparian states will lead to "water wars" in East Africa and the Middle East. [ more ]

ARAB 310Iraq and Iran in the Twentieth Century

Last offered Spring 2017

Despite being neighbors, the historical experience of Iran and Iraq has been drastically different. In this course we will begin by exploring the creation of Iraq in 1921 and the Pahlavi government in Iran. We will evaluate the revolutions of 1958 and 1978-9 and compare the lives and careers of Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini. The tragic Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 will also be discussed. Finally, the political future of these countries will be assessed. [ more ]

ARAB 322Islam in Spain

Last offered Spring 2017

The presence of Islam--in all its diverse manifestations--is not new to Europe, least of all to Spain. In this course we will focus for the most part on the medieval and early modern periods, and study several works--primarily of literature, though we will supplement with other texts--in which Muslims and Islam have been portrayed in the Iberian Peninsula. We will cover a wide range of perspectives that include Christian and Muslim writers as well as converts on both sides. While the bulk of the course is focused on the period prior to 1700 CE, we will devote the final few weeks of class to the study of Islam in contemporary Spain using fiction, legal debates, and issues related to immigration. Conducted in Spanish [ more ]

ARAB 323(F)Born to be Wild: Rethinking Animals in Pre-modern and Modern Texts

In the past few months, images of dolphins appearing in the Venetian canals, and wild animals roaming eerie looking post-apocalyptic deserted streets have gone viral. The majority of these images have proven to be fake, however their popularity was witness to people's hope that we can "reset" the environment and a yearning to reframe animals' positionality vis-à-vis their habitats and humans. Using critical lenses from ecocriticism and animal studies, we will be exploring texts from non-Western traditions in which animals figure strongly from pre-modern times to the age of the Anthropocene. The focus will be on Arabic, Persian and Turkish texts all in translation. The course will be traversing several genres and texts from Pre-Islamic poetry, the Quran, the 10th century Ikhwan as-Safa's epistle The Case of Animals versus Man Before the King of the Jinn, the fables of Kalila and Dimna, Farid ed-Din 'Attar's Conference of Birds, travelogues, paintings, contemporary film till we reach recent fiction with cyborgs and drones. Throughout the course, we will be examining themes such as diverse conceptualizations of what it means to be an "animal", what constitutes' animal agency and animal subjectivity irrespective of humans and their often utilitarian lens. We will do this by investigating how animals through these texts have been represented, imagined and reconfigured whether allegorically or otherwise as communities and in relation to humans and the environment and the implications of that. Finally, we will explore what a poetics of animal studies in these cultural and literary traditions could look like. The course will consist of multiple forms of evaluation like participation, Glow posts, essays, experiential reflections and creative tasks. [ more ]

ARAB 329Against the Grain: The Counternarratives of Historical Fiction in the Arab World

Last offered Spring 2020

In 2011, a few months after the large scale protests in Egypt that led to Mubarak's forced abdication of power, a story circulated in social media that was then picked up by traditional media about the fabrication of a key image that goes back to the 1973 war. Every October on the annual anniversary of the war, pictures reappeared in the media, commemorating the event. A widespread one was one of Mubarak, then a major general in the army and commander of the air force, standing right next to al-Sadat looking lost in thought, while everyone else is focused on al-Sadat as he explains routes and war plans on the maps in front of them. The image had been photoshopped. Sa'd al-Shathl' who was chief of staff during the 1973 war was "airbrushed out of history" to be replaced by Mubarak in the photo, allowing for an altered historical narrative about each man's respective role and importance. Because of such incidents, the difficulty or impossibility of accessing "official" archives and the control of historical narratives by the state, historical fiction as a genre is of added significance in the Arab world. In this course, we will be examining eight works of Arabic historical fiction in translation, transregionally from the late nineteenth century to the present, with a focus more on the last few decades. Historical fiction will be examined both as epistêmê and as technê to explore its associated aesthetics and incorporation of different archives, documents and forms. We will be exploring the possibility of considering historical fiction as an alternative archive that opens up new definitions and forms of experiences, community and subjectivity instead of the traditional narrative of the nation-state. Alongside the novels that will vary from a whodunnit in contemporary Lebanon (The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber) to a work that is about the fall of Granada in 15th century Spain (Granada by Radwa Ashour),we will be reading theoretical texts alongside the novels. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 331Popular Culture in the Arab World: Youth, Populism, and Politics

Last offered Fall 2018

Since the uprisings in the Arab world in 2011 and the counter-revolutions that followed, much attention has been paid to the significant role of the "popular" in creating social and political transformations. The voice of the youth and "the street," in particular, emerged as massive sources and sites for political mobilization. But, are these categories identical? Does youth culture equal popular culture? This survey course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the different layers that constitute popular culture in the Arab world since the decolonization of Arab states in the 1950s. Questions that we will ask include: What constitutes "popular culture" in the Arab world? How is it different than folk culture, mass culture, or "high" culture? Who are the key players in the creation and dissemination of "popular" culture? Besides globalization, for example, what other social, political and economic dynamics engulf the definition of the "popular"? What are modes of self-fashioning and representation of Arab identity that characterize this culture? To answer these questions we will examine original sources (with English translation) that include a graphic novel, political cartoon and graffiti, documentaries, TV shows, soap operas, video clips, music, comedy, blogs, news and social media. A selection of essays from anthropology, Arab culture studies, political science, journalism, and online videos will be used to provide historical and critical context for the material discussed in class. [ more ]

ARAB 332Islam and Feminism

Last offered Fall 2017

This course examines the relationship between feminism and Islam, focusing particularly on Islamic feminist scholarship. We will take a genealogical approach to our study of Islamic feminism tracing the different discourses that have informed and shaped the field. The first part of the course will begin with a critical examination of orientalist and colonial representations of Muslim women as oppressed and in need of liberation. We will then explore Muslim responses so such critiques that were entwined with nationalist and independence movements. This historical backdrop is critical to understanding why the question of women and their rights and roles become crucial to Muslim self-understanding and Islamic reform. The second part of the course will focus on major intellectuals and thinkers who have influenced Islamic feminism. Finally, the last part of our course will explore the breadth of Islamic feminist literature, covering the following themes: 1) feminist readings of scripture; 2) feminist critiques of Islamic law; and 3) feminist theology. [ more ]

ARAB 346Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions: Narratives from the Arab World, Latin America and the Caribbean

Last offered Spring 2019

This course offers a South-South comparative reading of revolutions and counter-revolutions in the second half of the 20th century in the Arab World, Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout we will read novels and watch films that focus on histories of social movements, post-independence revolutions, indigenous autonomies, dictatorship, and counter-revolutions with the aim to investigate narratives of people power vs. absolute power, insurgency vs. neocolonialism, utopias and dystopias. A comparative and critical reading of these texts will introduce you to the complex histories of national liberation, state terrorism and democratic imagination in two geographies in the Global South that share similar struggles against Euro-American imperialism. These texts will also familiarize you with an alternative, yet foundational, canon of Arabic, Latin American and Caribbean literatures and cinema, particularly from the post-Sixties generation in the Arab world and the post-Boom Latin American generation. Although this course is conceptualized as a South-South comparative reading of revolution and counter-revolution, it does not adhere to strict geographical parallels between the Arab World, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is mapped, however, according to major critical questions and thematic tropes that inform this topic. For example, how do contemporary Iraqi and Chilean writers and filmmakers write an aesthetic of evil in narratives that investigate the legacy of prolonged dictatorship? How do national novels in Mexico and Palestine depict parallel movements of indigenous resistance and anti-capitalist struggles? What motifs of dystopia are illustrated in narratives about post-revolution civil wars in Argentina and Syria? What histories of popular nationalism and socialism are revealed in feminist memoirs from Egypt and Cuba from the 1960s and 1970s? [ more ]

ARAB 363(F)Where are all the Jews?

Until four decades ago, many Maghrebi and Middle Eastern cities and villages teemed with Jewish populations. However, the creation of the Alliance Israelite Universelle's schools (1830s), the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the decolonization process in the Maghreb and the Middle East, and the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War accelerated the departure of Arab and Berber Jews from their homelands to other destinations, including France, Israel, Canada, the United States, and different Latin American countries. Arab and Berber Jews' departure from their ancestral lands left a socioeconomic and cultural void that Maghrebi and Middle Eastern cultural production has finally started to address, albeit shyly. The course will help students understand the depth of Jewish life in the Maghreb and the Middle East, and interrogate the local and global factors that led to their disappearance from both social and cultural memories for a long time. Reading fiction, autobiographies, ethnographies, historiographical works, and anthropological texts alongside documentaries films, the students will understand how literature and film have become a locus in which amnesia about Arab/Berber Jews is actively contested by recreating a bygone world. Resisting both conflict and nostalgia as the primary determinants of Jewish-Muslim relations, the course will help students think about multiple ways in which Jews and Muslims formed communities of citizens despite their differences and disagreements. [ more ]

ARAB 368Arab Women Writers: Remapping Urban Narratives

Last offered Fall 2017

In "The Lover of Blue Writing above the Sea," (1995) a poem written to console a lover after the death of his beloved, Syrian poet, Ghada al-Samman, pens: "If you are sad and burn the edge of my book/I shall come to you/like the genie in my grandmother's Damascene stories..." As these lines imply, the fantastic grandmother's Damascene stories have the power to equally amend broken hearts and restore memories of loss. In this course, we will adopt "the grandmother's Damascene stories" as a conceptual metaphor that guides our line inquiry into the intersection of Arab women's narrative and the city. We will read novels and short stories by Arab women writers about cities and capitals in the Arab world and the diaspora. The goal of this course is not only to familiarize students with prominent Arab women novelists, such as Hoda Barakat, Radwa Ashur, Liana Badr, Raja'a Alem, Alia Mamdouh, and Ahlam Mosteghanemi, among others, but also to introduce them to the literary and visual cartography of Beirut, Granada (via Cairo), Ramallah, Mecca, Baghdad, and Constantine, respectively. We will also read short stories about other cities in the world, such as New York, Paris, London, Buenos Aires and Tokyo among other world metropolis. Questions we will address include: How does the city appear as a protagonist? How do Arab women novelists represent nationhood, modernity, memory, love, war, sexuality and religion, among other themes, in their construction of urban narratives? How do these narratives map an Arab feminist metropolis? How do Arab women writers represent cities beyond the Arab world? To answer these questions, we will also look at Arab women's blogs and watch films that focus on the city as a site for spatial articulation of national histories, popular revolutions, and feminist public spheres. [ more ]

ARAB 369(S)Indigenous Narratives: From the Fourth World to the Global South

In the late 20th century, world literature has witnessed a "boom" in indigenous literature. Many critics and historians describe this global re-emergence of the subaltern and the indigenous in terms of literary justice fostered by post-colonial studies and the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1992. In this course, we will investigate this "indigenous boom" by reading novels and short stories from the Americas, the Middle East and North Africa from the 1970s to the present. Through these trans-regional and trans-historical peregrinations, our principal goal will be to examine and compare narratives about conquest, settler colonialism, colonial nationalism, indigeneity, sovereignty, indigenous epistemology and philosophy. At the same time, we will consider the following questions: How did pioneering indigenous women writers, such as the Laguna Pueblo Leslie Marmon Silko in the US and the Mayan playwrights of La Fomma in Chiapas, Mexico lead the feminist front of the indigenous literary renaissance? How did Palestinian folktales, Tashelhiyt Berber tales in Morocco, and Mayan dream narratives in Mexico and Guatemala produce narratives of decolonial history? What does the aesthetics of magical realism in Arabic, Quechua and Spanish, respectively, as evident in the works of the Kurdish writer Salim Barakat (Syria) and the mestizo writer José María Arguedas (Peru) tell us about the intersection of race, ethnicity, and indigenous epistemology? Ultimately, our goal is to trace how these texts contributed to global indigenous literature and the trans-historical and trans-geographical connections between them. [ more ]

ARAB 397Independent Study: Arabic

Last offered Spring 2020

Arabic Studies independent study. [ more ]

ARAB 401(F)Arabic Travel Literature and Film

Arabic travel literature is a very rich genre that spans different periods and geographies. From al-mu'allaqt al-sab'a (the seven odes) to The Arabian Nights, and from Ibn Battuta to Muhammad Bahi, travel is pivotal to Arab people's understanding of themselves and the world around them. Even today, one hears phrases, such as "emigrate in order to become healthier," which point to the fact that travel had been and remains a defining element of Arab-Islamic culture. This course will draw on poems, dictionary entries, short stories, novels, films, and memoirs to expose students to the ways Arab travelers--ancient and contemporary--understood the world through their experience-based or fictionalized travel accounts. Reading travel writings about West Asia, Turkey, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, students will have a complicated understanding not only of the Arabic-speaking world, but also of the forces that shaped travelers' representations of other people and their cultures. The course will build students' linguistic autonomy and provide them with the skills they need to work independently and critically on the assigned content. [ more ]

ARAB 408 T(F)Appropriating History. Who Owns the Past?

Who owns the past? How have modern states appropriated history? The political use of history is a critical ingredient in any nationalist discourse. In such narratives, the selective utilization of archaeology and ancient history often serves important functions in articulating a conscious and deliberate national history. Thus, in nationalist renderings, archaeological sites and artifacts are not merely relics of the past; they can also be potent and conspicuous symbols of national identity for the modern nation-state. In the Middle East, with its rich archaeological heritage, the relationship among politics, nationalism, and archeology has been particularly strong and interesting. This tutorial addresses the powerful nexus between history and nationalism with a special emphasis on the Middle East. It will explore the battle over who controls history and the "stuff" of history such as antiquities, land, heritage sites, and museum exhibitions and how that control has expressed itself in several Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran. Furthermore, it will discuss how archaeology entered the political discourse, the ethics of repatriation and appropriation, and archaeology's role in contested terrains and political disputes. [ more ]

ARAB 409Crescent, Cross, and Star. Religion and Politics in the Middle East

Last offered Fall 2019

Is religion the most powerful force in the Middle East? Is religion becoming more prominent in the political sphere and what impact will that have on religious minorities and the status of women in the Middle East? Using a case study and historical approach, this course will consider the development of religiously inspired political ideologies in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century. We will explore the experience of Iran, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan and evaluate role of religious actors, institutions, and ideologies in constructing national identities, policymaking, state-building, regime change, conflict, and war. [ more ]

ARAB 411Happy Holidays! A Comparative History of Commemorations and Festivals

Last offered Fall 2017

What do our holidays tell us about ourselves and our societies? This seminar in religious, political and cultural history is in two parts. In the first half, we will explore the major holidays and festivals that emerged in the Middle East among the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). It will examine how certain events became ritualized and then spread to different parts of the globe and were adapted to specific cultural situations. We will consider the role of myth and commemoration and how various religious holidays are celebrated in different ways around the world. The second part of the seminar focuses on secular holidays with particular attention to the Modern Middle East. Which events are commemorated and how and what are the political implications of these celebrations? [ more ]

ARAB 412Advanced Readings in Contemporary Arabic Literature

Last offered NA

This course, taught in Arabic, aims at providing students with a deeper understanding of contemporary Arab literature. By navigating different literary moments, foci and genres, the course will offer a panoramic view of the contemporary literary map of the region. While the course will focus on some mainstream writers such as the Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz and the Sudanese Tayyib Salih, it will also feature stateless and non-canonical writers such as Alaa Al-Sarky and young poets using 'amiyya' or colloquial Arabic as their main tool of expression. We will read short stories, excerpts from novels, literary critiques, interviews with authors, examples of classical and lyrical poetry, as well as watch a number of movies based on literary adaptations. Through examining representative literary texts from various parts of the Arab region, students will not only broaden their awareness of the socio-political and cultural dynamics emanating from these works, but will also improve their linguistic and stylistic knowledge of Arabic at more sophisticated levels. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 415(S)Examining the Arab Cultural Landscape: What does Arabic Media Actually Say

How does Arabic media represent the Arab landscape? This course will examine Arabic media as a window to the understanding of modern Arab though and culture. It will discuss how issues of political, historical, social, and economic significance in the Arab world are discussed, debated, and analyzed. Some issues include political and social freedoms, inter-Arab relations, national identity, recent revolts, gender identities, the Arabic language in a changing world, and technology in the age of globalization. The course will explore these issues as represented in the language of print, internet, television, movies, and social media, and we will employ linguistic and paralinguistic analysis of these resources. [ more ]

ARAB 416Arabic Short Stories: Societies, Cultural narratives & Literary aesthetics

Last offered Spring 2020

In this course we will explore the literary languages of Arabic and as well as various political and socio-economic issues via a selection of short stories that hail from geographically diverse authors. Being attentive to detailed readings of the text, their context, and the environment within which the author composed the text in question, we will weave our way through these short stories, developing the four language skills in addition to cultural competency. Although the course will avoid the monolithic approach of reading these stories as a social document that is a reflection or mirror of their societies, and will be equally concerned with the aesthetics of the Arabic literary narratives, the socio-economic and political issues discussed in the stories will be of relevance to the broader realms of Middle Eastern studies writ large. Tradition vs. modernity, the individual in opposition to the state, and gender issues are just some of the themes that will be discussed. In addition to the short stories provided, the class will engage in complimentary activities and material, like links to open source online videos and articles to expand on our knowledge of specific Arabic cultural and sociological phenomena. In addition to the short stories, there will be a short list of novels from which each member in the class will choose according to their interests. Reading the novel will be a term long project and will entail one-on-one meetings every two weeks with the instructor and will be tailored according to individual needs. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 420Current Events from the Maghreb and the Middle East

Last offered Fall 2018

Students in this course will engage with authentic materials from Arabic media, covering the Maghreb and the Middle East. Using original content from newspapers, magazines, websites, TV channels, podcasts, and specialized news outlets, the course will take students from intermediate high to advanced high level. Through their active engagement with the course materials, students will acquire a very diverse vocabulary, strengthen their mastery of Arabic grammar, and perform advanced linguistic skills in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Moreover, students in this course will be able to produce substantial narratives about complicated and abstract topics, argue for or against an idea, and discuss a variety of topics in MSA. In addition to enhancing students' listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, close, critical attention will be paid to deepening students' cultural competence. Students are expected to give three presentations through the course of the semester, write weekly response papers in Arabic, participate in a collective project, and produce a final paper about a topic of their choosing in consultation with the instructor. [ more ]

ARAB 427Revolutions & Revolutionaries in the Arab World's Modern History

Last offered NA

What is the difference between a [Thawrah] (revolution), an ['Inqil'b Sha'ab'] (popular led-coup) and an ['Intif''ah] (uprising)? Was the 2011 "Arab Spring" the first time that people in the Arab world had revolted against their governments? Were the 1977 bread "riots" in Egypt an ['Intif''ah] or revolution that was quelled promptly ? How does the 1958 coup in Iraq compare to the coup there five years later in 1963 or other coups across the Arab world? What were the role of the Amazigh in North Africa in rebelling against colonialism? In this course, we will be looking transnationally at the different revolutions, uprisings and coups that have taken place in the Arab world in its modern history. Through a variety of medium, the course will explore the socio-political and economic factors that resulted in these instances in history and the effects thereof. We will also be looking at the cultural production that flourished after revolutions, coups and uprisings from the blatantly propagandist to the nuanced and subversive! The course will be entirely in Arabic and aims to take participants from intermediate high to the advanced-mid/high level according to ACTFL standards. The course will be engaging with and developing, on a weekly basis all five language skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking and cultural proficiency and will focus on the language functions that are required at this level. This writing intensive course will consist of multiple forms of evaluation such as participation, debates, presentations, a mid-term video project and an end of year writing project. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 480 TInterpretations of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Last offered Fall 2018

This tutorial addresses the powerful, competing, and bitterly contested historical narratives that underpin the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both Israelis and Palestinians appeal to history to legitimize their territorial claims and to justify contemporary action. Special attention will be paid to the interpretations of key historical moments, especially the 1948 and 1967 wars, and on the contrasting views of some of the core issues of the conflict (Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, terrorism). [ more ]

ARAB 493(F)Senior Thesis: Arabic Studies

Arabic Studies senior thesis; this is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). [ more ]

ARAB 494(S)Senior Thesis: Arabic Studies

Arabic Studies senior thesis; this is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). [ more ]

ARAB 498(F, S)Independent Study: Arabic

Arabic Independent Study. Topic and methodology will be determined by instructor and student. [ more ]