MIDEAST 295 - First Year Seminar in Middle East Studies
Section: 002 Connecting Life Stories, Connecting Lives: The Middle East and Beyond
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Middle East Studies (MIDEAST)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In this first-year seminar we both study and engage in the shared human practice of examining and making sense of one’s life and expressing and communicating life stories, in a wide range of mediums and genres. We will investigate a selection of Middle Eastern life narratives, ranging from more traditional life story genres like written memoir and autobiography, to live story-telling and spoken word pieces, to those in more visual mediums such as documentary and experimental film, graphic life narratives and comics, photographic representations and multi-media installations, vocal musical genres including Middle Eastern rap/hip-hop, as well as movement and dance (including works by and/or about Raja Shehadeh, Diana Abu Jaber, Assia Djebar, Sayyed Kashua, Ari Folman, Leila Abdul Razzaq, Sama al-Shaibi, DAM/Tamer Nafer, Shadia Mansour, Larissa Sansour, and others).

Alongside reading/viewing/hearing/experiencing the Middle East life stories, and analyzing them, students will also be engaging in creating short life-story pieces of their own, also in multiple mediums (they will select from written, spoken, musical, artistic, photographic, filmic mediums), based on their exploration of shared threads and connections between the Middle Eastern life narratives, and their own. E.g., after reading and discussing cookbook-memoir excerpts by Diana Abu Jaber that are triggered and structured by food-memory, students will produce a creative piece in a medium of their choosing in which a life story of theirs is elicited by a food memory. We will engage in a similar two-pronged process around life stories which foreground other experiences (individual or collective trauma, displacement/exile, experiences of belonging/un-belonging, etc.) or sensory triggers (sound/music, smell, taste, touch, etc.).

We will also devote some time in class to cultivating mindful self-awareness of different ways we sense and register our human experience, how we respond to it, as an experiential and intrinsic part of the process of more deeply engaging with and understanding the communicated life experiences and narratives of others, and in coming to articulate and creatively express our own experience.

This course is aimed at being a learning experience for ‘the whole person,’ including but not limited to engaging academically and analytically with a range of Middle Eastern sources, while also engaging both experientially and creatively, in connecting these works with our own lived experience.

Course Requirements:

Course requirements will include active participation and discussion in class, regular substantial discussion posts on assigned materials, and short creative pieces roughly every 2 weeks of the semester.

Intended Audience:

First-year students interested in learning about the Middle East through the life stories and narratives of its people, students interested in engaging in creative writing and other forms of creative expression, and students open to engaging in learning analytically, introspectively, creatively and experientially.

Class Format:

Two 90-minute meetings weekly

MIDEAST 295 - First Year Seminar in Middle East Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
6Enrollment Management
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Assigned readings will consist of the books listed below that you need to order at the beginning of the semester, and the rest of the assigned readings will be available through links on our class Canvas Site.
ISBN: 9781400077762
Language of Baklava : a memoir, Author: Abu-Jaber, Diana., Publisher: Anchor Books 2006
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9781586422134
Strangers in the house : coming of age in occupied Palestine, Author: Shehadeh, Raja, 1951-, Publisher: Penguin Books 2003
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9781473638112
The Arab of the future : a graphic memoir : a childhood in the Middle East (1978-1984), Author: Sattouf, Riad,
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9781495627064
The hookah girl and other true stories, Author: Dabaie, Marguerite,
Other Textbook Editions OK.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for MIDEAST 295 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
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