This course offers a general mosaic survey of patterns of culture and forms of cultural expression in the Arab world, with selections variably foregrounding the historical, linguistic, literary, social, religious, culinary, musical, and artistic aspects of these patterns, drawn from points along the spectrum from the earliest periods of pre-Islamic Arabia to the Arab Spring of 2011 and beyond to the present, with an emphasis on the modern/contemporary period. From traditional poetry, the call to prayer and Qur’an recitation, The Thousand and One Nights, family and gender patterns, to Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum, Arab cuisine, Moroccan and Palestinian hip-hop artists, the role of al-Jazeera and Ramadan prime-time satellite television series in creating new forms of transnational “Arabism,” arts of the recent Arab revolutions, we will examine which features are culturally shared and bind together inhabitants of the Arab world, as well as the many which are distinctive to a very specific time, location, gender, and set of circumstances. Our exploration of cultural patterns and forms of expression will show them to be multi-layered and evolving over time, rather than fixed or essentialized.
Grades are based on active engagement with course materials (lecture, readings, films) as reflected in informed participation in discussion section, periodic iclicker responses in lecture, two short exams, and graded written production in the form of a combination of short papers and forum posts. Considerable emphasis is placed on honing skills of written expression.
Open to all with interest in the topic, including those with no previous background, as well as those who have some background and/or are concentrators in AAPTIS or other related areas seeking to broaden and deepen their knowledge of the subject.
Lecture sessions twice a week, exploring course material through lecture as well as film, and sections twice a week devoted to active discussion and exchange about content covered in lectures, assigned readings and viewings of films or clips both in and out of class.