Middle Eastern Studies Courses

An Introduction to Modern Arab Society – ARBC 100
This course surveys the main issues of debate in modern Arab society: social, intellectual and political. Focusing on key turning points in the 20th century, this course examines changes in definitions of identity, modernist thought, nationalism, and views of the West in the Arab world. Students will analyze representative samples of these trends, including social and literary debates, novels, memoirs, poetry, the media, films, and popular music. These texts depict Arab society in a state of transition and change.

The course will include key forms of modern Arabic literary genres (i.e. poetry, novels, theatre, short stories), providing a glimpse at Arab society and culture. Readings include literary works written by prominent authors, dealing with dominant cultural topics such as nationalism, religion, gender and women issues, the role of the family and kinship, and social concepts and taboos. Selected texts help delineate the cultural uniqueness of the Arab world, and will include certain major works by authors such as prominent cultural critic and poet Adonis, and leading intellectuals George Tarabishi and Mohammed Abed Al Jabari. Representative samples of poetry and short stories will be covered from throughout the contemporary Arab world.

Advanced Arabic: Modern Arabic Poetry in Translation – ARBC 110
The course “Modern Arabic Poetry in Translation” offers a window into the richness and sophistication of modern Arabic poetry. It focuses on major themes in Arabic poetry, and will cover the most important poetic texts and works written by the leading Arab poets in contemporary times. It begins with providing a necessary overview of classical Arabic poetic traditions, including pre-Islamic poetry. The course also offers insights into critical aspects of modern Arab culture. It examines the influence of Western literature on modern Arabic poetry and discusses the significant role of modern Arab poets within Arab society. Modern Arabic Poetry in Translation will be taught in English.

The Arabic Novel in Translation – ARBC 115
This course will focus on a close reading in translation of a number of important twentieth-century Arabic novels. These texts have been chosen both for their exceptional literary merit and for the fact that their themes and forms reflect the distinctive features of Arab modernity. The seminar’s guiding principle is that literature includes politics, history, and culture, and not vice versa.

These novels portray the region’s perennial problems of political tyranny, military defeat and exile, patriarchy, and the complex relationship with the West. Because Arab modernity was both accelerated in relation to its Western counterparts and profoundly influenced by the West’s wars and technology, the Arabic novel offers new insights into the manner in which the novel is related to Western narrative and literary theory.

Readings in Modern Arabic Poetry – ARBC 120
The course will provide students with a broad theoretical background and representation of the diversity and richness of modern Arabic poetry. This course will explore and analyze the poetic scene of the Arab world by reading the poetry of leading Arab poets in the Arabic language. The selected poems will focus on major themes in contemporary Arab life. The course will discuss the trends and movements of modern Arabic poetry and talk about the artistic, political and cultural dimensions as reflected in the writings of the best Arab poets.

This course will not only be taught in Arabic, but all discussions and presentations will be conducted in Arabic, as well as all written work. After reading and understanding the poems, their vocabulary, idioms, and expressions, we will discuss their artistic and ideological semantics. By the end of the semester, students will be able to place major Arab poets into the correct theoretical and historical context and their place and role in the modern poetic movement.

Prerequisite: Readings in Modern Arabic Poetry 120 will be taught in Arabic and is open to all students who have successfully completed Arabic 44 or equivalent.

Readings in Modern Arabic Prose - ARBC 130
This course explores Arabic prose, and how it depicts the relationship between the East and the West, and creates and fosters debate on the relationship. The Arabic novel explores issues of modernist, postmodern, and postcolonial themes. This is of literary and intellectual value to the student who will examine the Arabic novel and other forms of Arabic prose and find a rich field for comparative analyses with Western and other non-Western literature.

Prerequisite: Readings in Modern Arabic Prose, ARBC 130, will be taught in Arabic and is open to all students who have successfully completed Arabic 44 or equivalent.

Advanced Arabic: Readings in Modern Arab Culture and Thought - ARBC 166
This is an advanced course which will be taught in Arabic, and all discussions and presentations will be conducted in Arabic, as well as all written work. The course will be organized in a seminar format, and will include readings in Arabic of some of the most important and influential Arab writers and intellectuals in the last hundred years. The selected works are a reflection of major trends and movements in Arab culture and thought, and will include excerpts from amongst the texts below. The reading list will change over time to keep current.

Trends and Movements in the Modern Middle East – ARBT 190
The Senior Seminar in Middle East Studies will serve as the capstone for the Middle East Studies major at CMC. All majors are required to take the semester-long seminar in their senior year. The course will provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of the most prominent trends and movements in the social, political, religious, and cultural arenas of the Middle East. The course is intended to provide the opportunity to focus more intensely on several major themes including: 1) the emergence of the Modern Middle East, 2) intellectual currents of the last century, and 3) Islamic political movements. The seminar will have a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on concepts from political science, history, language, and literature.