Courses

ARAB 101(F) SEM 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(F, S) LEC Elementary Arabic

This is the second semester of the Beginning Arabic sequence. This course will continue building the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills students acquired in Arabic 101. Arabic 102 will also develop your competence in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) primarily. The students will be equipped with the vocabulary, reading facility, grammatical skills as well as the cultural competence they need to navigate familiar topics and simple communication situation in MSA. Students will expand the range of topics, grammar, tenses, and pronouns they use to express themselves both orally and in writing in MSA. This second semester will allow students to listen (to), speak, read, and write about a variety of topics that are geared toward consolidating and enriching their prior acquisitions in Arabic. [ more ]

ARAB 109 TUT The Iranian Revolution

Last offered Spring 2023

The Iranian Revolution was a major turning point in world history that resulted in the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This tutorial will evaluate the causes and impact of the revolution and how this seminal event continues to have widespread repercussions around the globe. The first weeks will explore the history of pre-revolutionary Iran with special attention to religious and intellectual trends such as the ideas of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Jalal al-e Ahmad, and Ali Shariati. We will then evaluate the revolution itself including the US hostage crisis, the downfall of the Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi Shah, and how Khomeini´s vision of society became paramount. Finally, we will explore the aftermath of the revolution including Iran´s geopolitics, the nature of the theocratic system in Iran as well as how the revolution impacted every day lives of Iranians in Iran and abroad particularly how they reflect on the revolution in memoirs, films, and literature. [ more ]

ARAB 111 SEM Movers 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 14 Empowered Embodiment: An Introduction to Movement Improvisation

Last offered NA

This guided improvisation class incorporates diverse movement modalities that bring awareness to our sensations, emotions, and thoughts, and aims to build new patterns in service of better relationships with our bodies as sites of learning, liberation and power. Appropriate for movers of all levels, this studio-based course encourages physical exploration to develop and deepen an embodied practice for participants that supports creativity and mindfulness, while enhancing compassion, mental health and emotional well being. Drawing on techniques including authentic movement, visualization, meditation, performance studies, music and play, as well as diverse movement traditions, participants will spend time moving, observing and reflecting in each 3 hr session (2 x week). Students will be encouraged to keep a daily journal and respond to prompts and readings, and develop a short daily movement practice both as a creative outlet and means of reducing stress and anxiety. Conversations and readings will interrogate the role of cultural and gender-based expectations on our physical patterns and well being. Movement prompts will provide new tools for critical thinking and creative problem solving by getting participants out of their "heads" and grounded in the liberatory and exploratory space of the body. Evaluation will be based on in-studio participation, reflective writings, and the creation of a personalized embodied practice program including an original movement score. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 15 Kafka Goes to Palestine

Last offered NA

For more than a century, Franz Kafka has posed a challenge to interpretation. Philosophers have debated his work while theologians have probed its mystical elements. More recently, the legal battle over his physical papers took place in an Israeli court, confounding the Zionist identity of religion and nationalism. At the heart of this history are two questions which remain with us today: what can literature do? and for whom does it belong? We will begin the seminar by reading Kafka. Guided by a selection of parables and short stories, we will immerse ourselves in the intricacy of interpretation. How do we understand Kafka's world: of objects part-alive and bureaucratic mazes; of catastrophic events and narrative nonchalance? Along with Kafka, we will read his European commentators - Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Hannah Arendt - dwelling on their notions of beauty, failure, and hope. In the second half of the seminar, we will follow Kafka to Palestine, gauging his ambivalence not only about religion and nationalism but also about literature itself. Considering Kafka's request to have his remaining papers burned, we will trace their fate as the literary property of a Jewish state. In doing so, we will ask how a piece of writing can make claims about justice, including its own right not to be owned. We will consider, in this regard, Kafka's reception in Palestine and the broader Arab world. Throughout the seminar, we will reflect on Kafka in the present. How do we express communal heritage - whether linguistic, religious, or cultural - when it is claimed by a state? And if writing can be free of politics, can it also be free of another manipulation, that of the market? Members of the seminar will be invited to submit a creative project, in a medium of their choice, which responds to a personal experience elicited by Kafka and his destinations. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 201(F) SEM 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) SEM Intermediate Arabic II

As a continuation of ARAB 201, this course will expose students to Modern Standard Arabic while increasing their communicative and intercultural competencies, and their knowledge of Arab cultures. 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 206 LEC History of Islam and the Middle East since 1453

Last offered Fall 2021

This course offers an introduction to the major political and societal institutions that evolved under the aegis of what we might call "Islamic civilization" since the Ottoman conquest of Byzantine Constantinople in 1453. The principal geographic areas covered are the Middle East, North Africa, and to some extent the Balkans. Major topics include the rise of the Ottoman sultanate and their consolidation of rule, the Persian Safavid Empire, the rise of Western intervention and colonialism, nationalism, and state formation, and the challenges of and responses to modernization. [ more ]

ARAB 207 LEC The Modern Middle East

Last offered Fall 2023

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) SEM Saharan Imaginations

Deconstructing reductive Saharanism, which the course conceptualizes as a universalizing discourse about deserts, this course seeks to critically examine the myriad assumptions that are projected upon deserts across times and cultures. In addition to their depiction as dead and empty, deserts have become a canvas for the demonstration of religiosity, resilience, heroism and athleticism. Cultural production, particularly literature and film, do, however, furnish a critical space in which important questions can be raised about deserts' fundamental importance to different cultures and societies. Drawing on novels, films, and secondary scholarship, the course will help students understand how myth, memory, history, coloniality/postcoloniality, and a strong sense of ethics are deeply intertwined in the desert sub-genre of African, Euro-American, and Middle Eastern literatures. Whether grappling with transcontinental issues of climate change, cannibalization of biodiversity or overexploitation of natural resources, desert-focused cultural production invites us to interrogate the politics of space and place as well as mobility and spatial control as they relate to this supposedly dead nature. [ more ]

ARAB 210 LEC The 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 211 LEC Understanding 9/11 and the War in Iraq

Last offered Spring 2024

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 and the world in general? 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. In this segment, students will engage with oral histories and memoirs related to the fateful events of that day. In the following module the political and cultural responses will be considered. Particular attention will be on the prelude to the Iraq War, especially how that war was justified and rationalized. Here students will analyze political rhetoric, public discourse, and activism through a range of sources including in the media, the academy, and in popular culture. Then the attention will be turned to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, 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, and the memory of this decade, continue to reverberate today. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2023

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 what they called the Holy Land (extending across parts of present-day Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Turkey), the place of Christ's life, death, and believed resurrection. Large numbers of pilgrims even made the long journey to the Holy Land, and especially to Jerusalem, to visit a range of sacred sites related to Christ and his saints. When these sites became less accessible with the spread of Islam in the seventh century -- and even before this time -- Europeans sought to recreate many of them 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. Through all of these centuries, moreover, the Christian, Greek-speaking empire of Byzantium, focused on its great capital of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), interacted in myriad ways, both friendly and hostile, with the Latin-speaking polities of Western Europe, focused at least symbolically on their ancient capital of Rome. Together, by way of 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 214 SEM Divas and Dervishes: Introduction to Modern Arab Music and Performance

Last offered Spring 2024

From Sufi rituals to revolutionary uprisings, music has long played a central role in the social, political, and religious life of the Arab world. This is especially audible in the modern era, when new technologies and institutions began to record, amplify, and broadcast the region's sounds, preserving centuries-old traditions while also producing new forms of popular music. This course introduces students to Arab musical genres and practices as they developed from the late nineteenth century. We will cover a broad geographical range, exploring the classical Andalusian repertoires of Algeria, ecstatic dervish chants in Egypt, patriotic pop tunes from Lebanon, and other topics. To highlight connections between musical traditions as well as their unique local features, we will ask questions such as: What can music tell us about interactions between sacred and secular life? How is music used to define social groups and negotiate identity, gender, and class? Which musical characteristics are associated with Arab "heritage" and "modernity," and how are these performed? In what ways does music shape everyday life in the Arab world? Class sessions and discussion will be based on academic readings and at-home listening assignments. No previous knowledge of Arabic or Arab music are required. [ more ]

ARAB 215 TUT The 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 222(F) SEM Photography in/of the Middle East

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

Last offered Spring 2023

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 227 LEC Language 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 230 SEM Who 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 232 SEM Islam in Africa

Last offered Spring 2023

Islam in Africa is often relegated to the peripheries in the study of Islam, a religion most associated with Arabs and the Middle East. On the flip side, Islam is also portrayed as foreign to African belief systems and institutions. The relationship between Islam and Africa, however, begins with the very advent of Islam when early Arab Muslim communities took refuge in the Abyssinian empire in East Africa. This course explores the history of Islam and Muslim societies on the African continent by focusing on the localized practices of Islam while also connecting it to Islam as a global phenomenon. The course will begin with a historical focus on the spread of Islam in Africa from East Africa and North Africa in the seventh century all the way to the spread of Islam through Sufi brotherhoods in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The course will also take an anthropological approach, exploring the diverse practices of Islam in African Muslim communities and the social and cultural impact of Islam on African societies. Among the topics the course will cover include African Muslim intellectual traditions, local healing practices, religious festivals, early modern African Muslim abolitionist movements, and the historical interactions between African and Asian Muslim communities in the Indian ocean world. [ more ]

ARAB 234 SEM What 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 SEM Reading the Qur'an

Last offered Spring 2022

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 SEM Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Islam

Last offered Spring 2023

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 243(F) SEM Islamic Law: Past and Present

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 249 SEM Trauma 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 252 SEM Arab Women Memoirs: Writing Feminist History

Last offered Fall 2021

This course reviews selected autobiographical writings by Arab women writers from the wave of independence in the 20th century to the contemporary Arab uprisings, passing through all the transformations that globalization and the technosphere have instigated. We will examine the role that first-voice narrative plays in shaping literature, history and thought, while providing a space to reclaim cultural, social and political agency. Focusing on the different articulations of self-representation, our discussion will address how these women reflect on the shifting discourses of identities, gender, nationalism, religion, feminism, sexuality, politics, borders and their histories. Questions we will address include: How did these memoirs contribute to the development of Arab feminist consciousness? In addition to the memoirs, we will look at women's blogs and watch films that focus on first-person narrative to discuss related topics, such as, visual testimonies, virtual political participation and feminist resistance in the technosphere. Required texts may include: Fadwa Tuqan (A Mountainous Journey: An Autobiography), Fatima Mernissi (Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood), Radwa Ashour (The Journey), Fadia Faqir and Shirley Eber (In the House of Silence: Autobiographical Essays by Arab Women Writers), and Assia Djebar (Fantasia), as well as critical essays and selections from autobiographical writings that reflect the diversity of Arab women in the Middle East and the diaspora. [ more ]

ARAB 256 SEM Arab 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 259 LEC Bilad 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 ]

ARAB 261 SEM Comparative 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 267 International 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 278 LEC The 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 279 SEM Islam on the Indian Ocean

Last offered Spring 2024

While colonial and Eurocentric geographies speak in terms of continental separation, historically the continents of Africa and Asia have been connected to one another through a dual link: Islam and the Indian Ocean. Indian Ocean trade and travel have historically connected East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, and South East Asia, shaping the lives of people and communities who lived not only along the coasts but also inland. This course focuses on these transregional connections, looking at the Indian ocean as a connective space that binds people and regions together rather than separating them. The course will also examine the role of Islam as a religious, economic, social and political force that brought together Muslim communities throughout the regions along the Indian ocean. In exploring these connections, the course will cover a broad historical period, from the 7th century with the rise of Islam to European colonialism and the emergence of a global economy in the nineteenth century. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 280 SEM Islam 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) SEM 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. The course will also encourage enrolled 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) SEM 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. 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 Arabic in the fourth year. Like ARAB 301, the course will be conducted entirely in Arabic. [ more ]

ARAB 303 SEM Food in the Middle East: A History

Last offered Spring 2022

In this course we examine the rich culinary history of the Middle East first among the three major religions in the region (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), then during the time of major Islamic Empires such as the Abbasids and Ottomans, and finally in the modern period. Using an array of primary and secondary sources, we explore the social, religious, literary, and economic place of food. We will study the consumption of an attitudes toward specific foodstuffs, gauging the medicinal and culinary value of spices, the historical taboos against drinking coffee and alcohol, and the dispute over various dishes within modern nationalist constructions. We will also investigate how Middle Eastern peoples from different ethnic, geographic, and religious backgrounds have historically used food to express their distinct cultural, national, and gendered identities. [ more ]

ARAB 307(S) SEM 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 the 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, Palestine, 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 do 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 308 SEM The Nile

Last offered Fall 2023

For millennia, the Nile River has sustained civilizations in eastern and northern Africa. It was on the banks of this river that the great Egyptian empires were founded that led to the building of some of humanity's most astounding structures and artworks. While the Nile seems eternal and almost beyond time and place, 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 alarming nexus of demography, climate change, and economic development has led to increasingly urgent questions of the Nile´s future. Is the Nile dying? How has the river, and people´s relationship with it, changed over the last century? This course will consider the history of the Nile and and its built and natural environment. 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. By following an imaginary droplet flowing from tributaries until it makes its way into the Mediterranean Sea, we will learn about the diverse peoples and cultures along the way. We will evaluate the numerous attempts to manage and control the Nile, including the building of big dams, and the continuous efforts to utilize the river for economic development such as agriculture and the tourism industry. At the end of the semester we will consider the relationship of the major urban centers 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 310 LEC Iraq 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 320(F) SEM Poetry of Indignation: Poetics and Transnational Liberation

Poetry is usually associated with beautiful, metered, and charged language. However, beyond its poeticity, poetry has also functioned as a tool of liberation and transnational construction of identities and solidarities. States have national poets, and, in many countries, national anthems were written by famous poets. From Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi and Claude McKay to Pablo Neruda, poetry has acted as a space for life, rebellion, resistance, revolution, and the defense of a common humanity that transcends the barriers of language and national aesthetics. This course draws on a variety of materials from the Caribbean to Africa and from the Middle East to India to conceptualize a "poetics of indignation" against slavery, social injustice, colonization, authoritarianism, capitalism, and globalization. The students in this course will read poets, such as Okot p'Bitek, Derek Walcott, Tsitsi Jaji, Mahmoud Darwish, and Pablo Neruda, among many other poets, to examine how poetics changed and shifted across times and geographic boundaries while retaining a commitment to indignation, rebellion, and anger at almost the same recurring oppressive forces. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2022

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 332(F) SEM Islam and Feminism

This course examines the relationship between feminism and Islam, exploring Islamic feminism, decolonial feminism, and the critiques of imperialist feminism, homonationalism, and femonationalism. 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 to 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 explore the breadth of Islamic feminist literature, covering: 1) feminist readings of scripture; 2) feminist critiques of Islamic law; and 3) feminist theology. The final part of the course will focus on Muslim feminist and decolonial feminist critiques of feminism and its link to imperialism and the weaponization of gender and sexuality in global discourse. [ more ]

ARAB 335(F) SEM Rhymes, Romance, and Revolution: Arabic Poetry in Translation

Since pre-Islamic times, poetry has been "the record of Arab history," as an old adage holds. From ancient tribal odes and medieval mystical verse to modern love lyrics, Arabic poetry speaks to how people of the region have lived and interacted. Yet, beyond just recording, poetry has also played a central role in shaping society, culture, and politics in the Arab world. This course introduces students to the poetic tradition(s) of the region, traversing a broad chronology (early Islamic, medieval, modern) to explore such questions as: what are the themes and structures of Arabic poetry? Which elements have changed or persisted over time? And how is it that even classical Arabic poems continue to resonate with younger generations today? We will consider such questions as we read Arabic poems in translation, analyzing how these texts were composed, recited, set to music, and, sometimes, censored or banned by authorities. Students will become familiar with Arabic poetic genres--Classical, Sufi/religious, Diaspora, Free Verse--as well as major poets in the literary tradition. Readings and discussion will be in English. No knowledge of Arabic or poetry required. [ more ]

ARAB 337 SEM Soundscapes of Arabic Literature: Listening to Text and Society

Last offered Spring 2022

In recent years, scholars of the Arab world have paid increasing attention to the ways in which sound and sonic sources can add new depth to our understanding of the region. While much research has drawn on audio recordings, this course explores sounds, songs, noises, and silence through literature to develop a multi-sensory examination of the modern Arab world. We will listen to sounds of the past and present through novels, short stories, poems, and other texts (in translation), discussing how a consideration of the aural environment can shift the way we read both literature and history. Interdisciplinary in scope, this course introduces students to scholarly approaches in literary studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology, and the emerging field of sound studies. Units in this course are organized thematically rather than by country. We begin with an introduction to sound studies, then move on to reading literary texts from the Arab world and secondary scholarly studies to consider topics ranging from the sounds of quotidian street life to those of conflict in war. Students will learn to use the soundscape as a methodological tool through classroom discussions and weekly reading and writing assignments. Knowledge of the Arabic language is not required. [ more ]

ARAB 340(S) SEM Arab Women Memoirs: Writing Feminist History

In this seminar we review selected autobiographical writings by Arab women writers from the wave of independence in the 20th century to the contemporary Arab uprisings, passing through all the transformations that globalization and the technosphere have instigated. We will examine the role that first-voice narrative plays in shaping literature, history and thought, while providing a space to reclaim cultural, social and political agency. Focusing on the different articulations of self-representation, our discussion will address how these women reflect on the shifting discourses of identities, gender, nationalism, religion, feminism, sexuality, politics, borders and their histories. Questions we will address include: How did these memoirs contribute to the development of Arab feminist consciousness? How did these women writers carve a literary space for feminist memory in modern Arabic literature? In addition to the memoirs, we will look at women's blogs and watch films that focus on first-person narrative to discuss related topics, such as, visual testimonies, virtual political participation and feminist resistance in the technosphere. [ more ]

ARAB 346 SEM Revolutions 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 360(F) SEM Repairing a Broken World: Intro to North African Contemporary Art

How do artists respond to a world in crisis? How does visual art engage violent histories, injured bodies, social injustice and ecological disaster? In this course we will explore the political and ethical concept of repair as it emerges in the work of contemporary North African visual artists. Repair is both a material and symbolic transformational practice of putting together something that is torn or broken. It is never complete, nor does it redeem a history of harm or violence. Rather repair is an invitation: a bringing of people, histories, objects, buildings, feelings and geographies into relation with one another in order to link worlds that have been splintered and separated. It is also a call to imagine other futures. North African contemporary artists have deeply engaged in this type of repair work, attending to colonial history, economies of extraction and environmental damage, race and slavery, housing inequity, gender identity and broken transmission of memory. We will dive into the work of individual artists as well as collectives while reading theoretical texts about broken-world thinking, reparative epistemology, alternative archives, and material reparations. [ more ]

ARAB 363 SEM Where are all the Jews?

Last offered Spring 2024

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 368 SEM Arab 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(F) SEM 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, Amazigh poetics in the Maghreb, 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? What is the connection between the recent "boom" of English translations of Indigenous texts and neoliberalism, multiculturalism and neo-colonialism? 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 370 TUT Archives of Global Solidarity: Records of Collective Memory of Emancipation

Last offered Spring 2022

Departing from the Arabic notions of takaful and taddamun as interlinked expressions of social and political solidarity, this course seeks to investigate the textual and visual cultural production of solidarity in the Arabic-speaking world. While both terms have informed the shaping of modern Arab politics in the mid 20th century--from the birth of the socialist state to the rise of pan-Arabism--their instrumentalization as key principles of internationalism, Third Worldism, trans-nationalism, and global camaraderie since the 1990s is parallel to the emergence of social movements and popular resistance across the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. What is the meaning of solidarity and how it mobilized collective emancipation is the guiding question of this course. To interrogate this question we will read novels, poems, memoirs, labor unions and feminist manifestos, and essays that feature multidirectional solidarity and alliance building across borders of East-East and South-South. We will also examine visual and digital archives that documents particular historical moments that marked a turning point of global solidarity, such as the Spanish Civil War, the Cuban Revolution, the Algerian War, the Prague Spring, the Palestinian Intifada, the Zapatista Uprising, and most recently, the Arab Uprisings. As we approach these historical moments through a variety of texts and genres, we will identify encounters between activists and writers who established cross-regional movements and the cultural exchange between artistic collaborations. [ more ]

ARAB 401 SEM Topics in Advanced Arabic: Contemporary Arab Cinema

Last offered Fall 2021

The Arab world is a fascinating region with rich traditions and vibrant societies. Through an exploration of contemporary Arab cinema, this course will introduce you to issues in modern Arab societies that represent the diversity of the region as well as the shared concerns and challenges. We will analyze select movies and texts, exploring how Arab filmmakers represent social, political, and economic change and realities in their societies. Some topics include nationalism and national identity, gender identities, civil wars, religion, social justice, and the recent revolts. The course will be conducted in Arabic, and we will employ linguistic and paralinguistic analyses of the movies as a means to explore modern Arab thought and cultures. [ more ]

ARAB 402 SEM Travel Literature in Arabic: The World through Arab/Amazigh Eyes

Last offered Spring 2023

Arabic travel literature is a very rich genre that spans different periods and geographies, reflecting Arab/Amazigh writers' understanding of themselves and the world around them. From India to Russia to Cuba and Namibia, Arabs/Amazighs have traveled the world and inscribed their observations about different people and cultures in a significant literary output. This course draws on poems, dictionary entries, short stories, novels, films, and memoirs to initiate students to the various ways Arab/Amazigh travelers--ancient and contemporary--made sense of other cultures 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 analytical skills they need to examine copious literary texts independently. Students enrolled in this course are required to use the language resources available on campus to improve their language skills in order to benefit maximally from the literary and intellectual opportunities offered in the texts under study. [ more ]

ARAB 403(S) SEM Beyond the Letter: Visual Culture in the Arabic-Speaking World

Whereas poetry has been historically celebrated as the defining form of an "authentic" Arab culture from the pre-Islamic world to the present, visual culture, such as paintings, sculptures, installations, videoart, and photography, among others, has been relegated to the contemporary, the modern, the Westernized, and thereof, a representation of a less "authentic" Arab culture. In this course, we will challenge this false dichotomy by examining a variety visual culture artifacts from the Arabic-speaking world. Although the scope of our discussion will be limited to works from the 19th century to the present, our questions will investigate the deep roots of visual art in the Arabic-speaking world. We will also examine the work of poets-painters, such as Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and Etel Adnan that expanded from Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq to the United States, the manifestos of the Arab Surrealist Movement in Cairo in the 1930s, the Baghdad Modern Art Group in the 1950s and more recent works by individual artists navigating post-modern aesthetics, and dystopian futures, including Radia Bent Lhoucine, Amina Zoubair, Sophia Al-Maria and Juamana Manna, among others. In discussing these works, we will reflect on political and social events that shaped the production of visual culture in the Arabic-speaking world from the Gulf to the Maghreb. In addition to reading artists statements, exhibition reviews, art magazines and museum brochures that speak to the alphabet of visual culture, we will listen to interviews and watch short clips. In the process, we will active advanced grammar and vocabulary skills and employ paralinguistic analysis. The course is taught in Arabic. [ more ]

ARAB 404 SEM Topics in Contemporary Arab Cultures

Last offered Spring 2024

What issues do contemporary Arab societies and cultures face? Through an exploration of various current issues, this course will introduce you to questions that engage Arab thought in modern times. What issues are central to women and young people today? How do the Arabic language and Arab identity intersect within increasingly multilingual and multicultural communities? What issues do minority communities in Arab countries face? How does globalization impact Arab societies? How do literature and art continue to reflect aspirations, challenges, and defiance? The course will explore these and other 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. Taught in Arabic. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 405 SEM From Page to Stage: Singers and Songwriters of Modern Arab Music

Last offered Fall 2022

Since its earliest history, Arab music has accorded special status to the singing of poetry. Over the last century, many of the most popular songs across the Arab world were the result of poets, composers, and singers collaborating to turn written words into performable masterpieces. In this course, we will explore a variety of famous Arabic songs, examining how they were written, edited, performed, and, sometimes, censored and banned. Questions that we will ask in this course include: What is the process through which Arabic songs are made? Who is the "author" of the final song? How are song texts transformed when prepared for concert stages and recording studios? And what, in this process, shapes the success and popularity of a song? We will read song lyrics (poems) as literary texts to consider their language and poetic characteristics while also analyzing how songs can be used as a lens to think about politics, identity, religion, class, gender and broader topics related to modern Arab society. Students will become familiar with the lives and works of major singers, such as Umm Kulthum, Fairuz, and Marcel Khalife, and poets, such as Ahmad Shawqi, Nizar Qabbani, and Mahmoud Darwish. Readings and discussion will be in Arabic. [ more ]

ARAB 407(F) SEM Arabic Poetry: A Musical Introduction

For over a thousand years, poetry has served as a wellspring for Arabic song lyrics, creating an intimate bond between word and melody. Some of the most renowned Arab poets are those whose words were set to music, to be chanted by master singers and ordinary people alike. In this course, we explore Arabic poetry through the lens of song. Journeying between ancient verse and contemporary compositions, we will consider such questions as: What are the themes, structures, and linguistic features of Arabic poetry? How has it changed over time? And why is it that even classical Arabic poems can become modern pop hits circulating everywhere from Marrakesh to Muscat? We will consider such questions as we read and listen to Arabic poems, analyzing themes related to politics, identity, religion, and gender in Arab society. Students will become familiar with Arabic poetic genres--Classical, Andalusian, Mahjar, Free Verse--as well as major singers since the twentieth century. Readings and discussion will be in Arabic. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

ARAB 408 TUT Appropriating History. Who Owns the Past?

Last offered Fall 2020

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 409 SEM Crescent, 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 411 SEM Happy 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 413 SEM The Big Ideas: Intended and Unintended Consequence of Human Ambition

Last offered Fall 2022

What have been the most consequential ideas of the last 100 years? This course will explore some of the more audacious and ambitious plans to alter natural and urban environments in the late 19th century to the early part of the 21st, specifically those that sought to improve the human condition through science, engineering, and technology. By building big bold things, politicians around the globe sought to bring prosperity to their nation and embark on a path of modernity and independence. Through an intellectual, political and environmental history of major construction projects such as the building of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam, extensive river valley developments in Iran, Turkey and Iraq, and utopian and futuristic city planning in western Asia, students will consider how, with the benefit of hindsight, to best evaluate the feasibility of such bold schemes. Who has benefitted and who has not, what have been some of the unanticipated consequences, what was sacrificed or neglected, and what do these projects tell us about the larger processes of global capitalism, decolonization, and climate change? [ more ]

ARAB 414(F) SEM Displacement: Global Histories of Refugees and Forced Migration

The Middle Eastern refugee has become a central figure in debates on migration, asylum, and the right to belong in Europe, Asia, and North America. Often stereotyped as threatening, alien, and rootless, these migrants are generally depicted as lacking histories and by extension not worthy of consideration or empathy. This course invites students to understand some of the most tragic humanitarian crises of our time and the massive involuntary displacements provoked by war, violence, and/or climate change. Taking a global perspective, this seminar examines the history of displacement, refugees, migration, diaspora in a focusing on the nineteenth century through the present. With special attention to the historical experience of various peoples of the Middle East, the course will start with theoretical approaches to the study of migration and then delve into case studies, A range of different moments of displacement will be analyzed such as the experiences of Armenians, Jews, Palestinians, Syrian, Iraqis, and Kurds. By examining the human geography and politics of forced displacement and migration, this course will address a number of important academic and political questions: what makes a history written by, about, and for displaced people powerful? How can writing from the perspectives of refugees challenge core debates about identity, the nation and borders? How does the focus on displacement help in understanding the nature of war and conflict? [ more ]

ARAB 415 LEC Examining the Arab Cultural Landscape: What does Arabic Media Actually Say

Last offered Spring 2018

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 420 SEM Current 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 427 Revolutions & 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 493(F) HON Senior Thesis: Arabic Studies

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

ARAB 494(S) HON Senior Thesis: Arabic Studies

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

ARAB 497(F) IND Independent Study: Arabic

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

ARAB 498(S) IND Independent Study: Arabic

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