African 445: Readings in Advanced Arabic Texts

Samuel England

3 credits

Course Description

This course bridges our advanced (3rd-year) language work in Arabic with the creative traditions of writing, filmmaking, and performance. It provides an introduction to Arabic literature, film, and drama as Arabs approach them—i.e., as arts that spur us to reflect, not just texts through which to learn language skills. Together, we come to understand the short story tradition, the novel, music, films, and television. We also fine-tune our Arabic skills through advanced composition, oral presentation, and in-class exchange of ideas at a high level.

Our theme this semester is “Self and Memory in Arabic Literature.” We’ll consider what moves Arabic authors to write, and how their writing becomes part of our public sphere in a variety of forms—books, articles, films, video art, songs, etc. Describing her work, the Moroccan novelist and journalist Leila Abouzeid remarks that her life “did not feel like a bubbling source of inspiration, but once I had a taken it up, the material began to flow. I was amazed that details and events came up from my memory with such clarity.” How, then, do we find a flow as readers? Moving from the textbook to native speakers’ zone of culture, what new details become clear to us? That’s a central question we will answer in the course.