Courses Offered

This course is designed as an introduction to Islamic civilization and thought and requires no prior knowledge of Islam or Middle Eastern History. It will focus on the political, social and religious institutions that shaped Islamic civilization as well as on the intellectual and scholarly traditions which characterized the Arab and Muslim world from the pre-Islamic time onwards. Beginning with the geographical, cultural and historical context of the rise of Islam, the life of the Prophet, the Qur’an, it will extend through the pre-modern time, with a special emphasis on texts. The readings consist of a selection of translated primary sources as well as complementary background essays. In addition to the political history of this period, we will discuss a wide range of social and cultural themes including the translation movement, science and literature, art and architecture as well as gender issues. Films and Audios will be also solicited.

This course fulfills the College HALC (Humanities, Arts, Literature, Culture) requirements for undergraduate students.

Sessions: one hour/week discussion session.
Optional: one hour/week discussion session in Arabic

When it comes to the discourse around Islam in the west, perhaps no issue has generated more controversy, attention, and misunderstanding than the religion’s conception of women. Whether it be debates about veiling, female circumcision, or ‘creeping Shariah,’ the notion that “Muslim women need saving” has served as a touchstone of European and US scrutiny, public policy, and foreign intervention over recent decades. This course challenges the static assumptions at the heart of this discourse by exploring the complex, diverse, and changing interaction between women and Islam through space and time. Drawing on a variety of sources — historical, legal, literary, media, and film — we will ask the following questions: What do the religious sources have to say about women? How have Muslim women negotiated their identities and position vis-a-vis their faith and society across a range of geographical and historical contexts? How do they continue to do so today? Finally, why does gender so insistently occupy the gaze of both Muslims and non-Muslims alike? Throughout the course, we will explore the utility of feminist theories and theories of gender and sexuality as a lens for understanding the discursive and practical interactions between women, gender, and Islam.  

When it comes to the discourse around Islam in the west, perhaps no issue has generated more controversy, attention, and misunderstanding than the religion’s conception of women. Whether it be debates about veiling, female circumcision, or ‘creeping Shariah,’ the notion that “Muslim women need saving” has served as a touchstone of European and US scrutiny, public policy, and foreign intervention over recent decades. This course challenges the static assumptions at the heart of this discourse by exploring the complex, diverse, and changing interaction between women and Islam through space and time. Drawing on a variety of sources — historical, legal, literary, media, and film — we will ask the following questions: What do the religious sources have to say about women? How have Muslim women negotiated their identities and position vis-a-vis their faith and society across a range of geographical and historical contexts? How do they continue to do so today? Finally, why does gender so insistently occupy the gaze of both Muslims and non-Muslims alike? Throughout the course, we will explore the utility of feminist theories and theories of gender and sexuality as a lens for understanding the discursive and practical interactions between women, gender, and Islam.  

How has Arab cinema transformed our vision of cinema as well as of history since its emergence on the scene in the early twentieth century? This course will survey Arab cinema from different periods and will consider how cinema is used to explore themes such as gender and sexuality, national identity, war, displacement, poverty, urbanization, colonialism, censorship, language and religion. The course will introduce Arab cinema as a vehicle through which themes of social significance in the Arab world and in the diaspora are reflected upon, analyzed, upheld or challenged. In addition to weekly viewings, we will also read critical material in order to analyze films critically and become familiar with the key theoretical elements of modern critical and cultural theory as they apply to film study and criticism. The films screened as part of the course will not only be analyzed from an aesthetic perspective, but also as socially produced narratives that reveal some of the central tensions and concerns of the culture from which they emerged. Students will be introduced to various genres that characterize Arab cinema such as epic, comedy, drama, documentary, musicals, and historical among others.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course will be taught primarily in Arabic.

The Study of Arabic dialects has been a long concern that extends from modern times and dates back to the medieval times where Arabic dialects were investigated to describe and codify the Arabic language. This introductory course introduces the students to the study of Arabic dialects as a branch of Arabic linguistics in terms of theory, methods, goals, and results. It acquaints students with descriptive techniques and first-hand knowledge in Arabic dialect fieldwork. The techniques necessary for analyzing primary data, transcribing, analyzing, and interpreting oral data recorded in the field. By using examples from a variety of dialects, and from transcribed interviews conducted by the students, the basic principles of Arabic dialectology will be introduced.

The course deals with the following themes: the place of dialectology in the linguistic theory, regional dialectology, urban dialectology, the medieval Arab grammarians theory of Arabic dialects, modern dialectology, diglossia: the issue of standard and non-standard, the structure of Arabic dialects, regional differences, social differences, dialect boundaries and transitions, methodology in terms of selecting speakers, data collection: interviews, questionnaires, and other tools followed in both the modern studies and traditional ones, transcribing data collected, describing the results, the issue of variation, classification and comparative analysis of Arabic dialects: Eastern and Western Arabic dialects.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course explores the language policy and its political, economic and educational ramifications in the Arab world. It discusses the linguistic situation of Arabic and language policies adopted by the governments in the Arab countries. It also discusses the initiatives and suggestions made in the Arab world in order to raise and support the status of Standard Arabic nationally and internationally and the problems that arise due to the absence of a strategic language plan at the state level. Topics will also include how to develop a fair, democratic, and strategic language policy; the economic cost of the language policies in a dynamic linguistic market; and the influence of language policies on education and academia. The class is conducted in Arabic, but readings will be from Arabic and English sources. Assignments are in Arabic.

This course is primarily a reading course, designed to enable students to read complete stories, to develop in-depth, analytical, reflective and fluent reading skills. The emphasis will be on self-reliant preparation. Students are expected to gain mastery of the text almost independently, to develop their own responses, and ask crucial questions. The course is also intended to explore the relevance of these stories to modern Maghribi societies; the extent to which they are part of a larger picture of modern Arabic fiction; and whether or not the Maghrib can claim a narrative voice of its own.
The course will be conducted in Arabic. It will also give students an opportunity to review grammar as well as build up vocabulary. 

Since the late nineteenth century, Arab writers have experimented broadly and at times radically with the form of the novel. Yet, the very emergence of this literary form in the modern Arab context begs many questions. To begin with, there is the old question about whether the Arabic novel was imported wholesale from the West, or whether it emerged organically in conversation with indigenous forms. We might pose this old question more bluntly: Was the Arabic novel an instance of colonial-era borrowing or, worse, a cultural artifact imposed by Western cultural hegemony? Certainly, many early experiments with the novel borrowed directly from European models, just as others drew self-consciously upon older Arabic narrative fiction forms, whether from the realm of the popular (like the Thousand and One Nights), or from that of the elite (like the maqama). At the same time, in recent years, as Arab authors have begun to write in European languages, these connections have become increasingly complex.

The apparent tension and even conflict between the novel and religious orthodoxy in the modern Arab world is one of the central questions we will explore in this course. Other related questions we will address are: the effective ability of the novel to critique political oppression; the role novels play in the articulation of human rights norms; the limits of the novel’s significance in illiterate (and post-literate) societies; the novel as a supplement to official history; the novel in conversation with other mass media, especially film. Throughout, we will also ask what it means to be a writer in the modern Arab world. Most of all, however, we will be reading some of the greatest landmarks of the modern and contemporary Arabic novel in translation.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course is a survey of the history of Arabic Drama in the Middle East. It introduces students to playwrights from Medieval to Modern times. Ibn Daniel and his Shadow Plays, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Yusuf Idris, Alfred Farag, Laila Nadir, Saad Allah Wannus.

The course is intended to increase students’ understanding and appreciation of Arab society and culture. They will learn about the social issues, political conditions mirrored in plays and how the latter interpreted and evaluated or criticized those problems. Students will be exposed to various styles of writing, genre, issues, and language. They will discover the common elements between writers in styles and content and their different approaches in addressing their societal issues. Students, in addition, will make use of the social Media and DVD to watch plays to analyze or critique performances.

The course will be taught in Arabic with Arabic texts and readings in English and Arabic. It will be offered twice a week. 

This course provides a geographical survey of the countries of the Arab world on a regional and country-by-country basis. Topics include topography and physical features, agriculture and industry, political and social structures, population patterns, natural resources, and ecology. The aims of the course are twofold: building knowledge of the Arab world and at the same time strengthening oral and written skills at the advanced level in Modern Standard Arabic. Course is taught in Arabic.

Within the classical Arabic literary tradition, the textual variants known as Alf layla wa-layla have a truly ambiguous status, at once influential and marginal to the understanding and practice of adab. This course will engage with critical readings of Alf layla wa-layla, set into conversation with texts such as al-Tanoukhi’s al-Faraj ba‘d al-shidda and al-Ramhurmuzi’s ‘Aja’ib al-Hind. Readings will be in Arabic.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course will examine the role of anthropology and anthropologists in the history of the contact that Europe and the U.S.A. have had with the Muslim World. Examples will include anthropological writing produced both during and following the period of British, French, and Russian colonialism in places such as Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, India, Afghanistan, North Africa, Lebanon, and in the Caucasus and Central Asia (all readings are in English). More recent ethnographies of Bosnia, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Indonesia will be examined. An ethnographic study of Muslims in Germany and an examination of global musical trends among Muslim youth will round out the course. Talal Asad’s critique of the Anthropology of Islam will inform course readings and discussions exploring the history of academic orientalism and the theoretical challenge to it as elucidated by Edward Said. Intellectual engagement with both primary anthropological texts and critical responses will be required. The Muslim reform movement of Jadidism, the Naqshibendi response to colonialism, the work of Muslim anthropologists and folklorists, and other topics of individual interest may be addressed in the case studies.

The grading for the course will be based on multiple essays posted to the class site, a case study research paper and presentation, a timeline assignment, and a connective final essay.

This course is open to both upper level undergraduates and graduate students.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course satisfies the College HALC (Humanities, Arts, Literature, & Cultures) Requirement.

Through a survey of Muslim and non Muslim sources from the 7th century down to modern times, the course proposes an evaluation of the cultural and religious shaping of Islamic identity. From the beginning and throughout history, Islam was in contact with others: Jewish, Christians, Zoroastrians. By exploring different narratives from the origin until today, the course will address the issue of representation and self-representation. How did Islam see itself? How did others see it? The purpose of the course is to expose the students to original primary sources (ancient, medieval and modern texts in translation as well as contemporary media) in order to give them a better grasp of the making of Islamic identity/-ies across the various historical developments and the different socio-cultural contexts. The course combines lecture with discussions stemming from the readings. Films and documentaries will also be solicited on a regular basis.

* This course has a one hour/week optional Arabic discussion session for interested students.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course offers a broad survey of Contemporary Twelver Shi‘i thought and Islamic movements, focusing on groups and scholars from Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, during the Twentieth and Twenty-First centuries. In its first part, the course looks at the impact of modernization and the formation of national identities, on the social, political, and religious consciousness of the Shi‘a. The second part discusses the ideologization of Shi‘ism (narratives and doctrines) during the second half of the Twentieth century. The third part examines Shi‘i Islamic responses to the questions of adaptability and applicability of Shari‘a in the post-colonial period. It analyzes core transformations in the Shi‘i political thought, focusing on the suitability of Islam for governance in religiously diverse and pluralistic societies. The course ends with a survey on the state of Shi‘i – Sunni relations, discussing dialectical and dialogical interactions, before and after the “Arab Spring.”
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Arabic vocabulary acquisition is often a challenge to students of Arabic. Looking up a word in the dictionary, for example, requires a good command of grammar and is not the most enjoyable part of learning the language.  If, however, vocabulary and grammar are acquired through Nizar Qabbani’s poetry or Gibran’s lyrics as sung by Fayrouz, the process is more enjoyable and retention levels become higher.

This course is designed to enable students to review and learn salient grammatical structures as well as enhance their word power. It is also intended to analyze and explore some common themes in contemporary Arabic poetry and song.

By the end of the term students will have solidified their grammar and deepened their interest and pleasure in Arabic poetry and music. Prerequisites: 3 years of Arabic or instructor’s permission.

This course introduces the scientific study of language and its major subfields through the study of examples from English and Arabic. Students learn that modern linguistic principles can be applied in the case of Arabic and are asked to consider how further study can fill gaps in the research for Arabic. This course bridges basic theoretical linguistics and Arabic linguistics. For graduate and upper level undergraduate students. Graduate or undergraduate credit. This course can be taken as a social sciences elective. 
Credits: 3 credits 
Prerequisites: none. Two semesters of MSA recommended.
Credits: 3 Credits
Prerequisites: None

This course introduces the linguistic tools for analyzing the core components of Arabic language structure. These components are phonology (sound structure), morphology (word structure) and syntax (phrase structure). Students will learn how to do linguistic analysis of data from Arabic language. Students will learn about the similarities and differences between different varieties of Arabic.

This course deals with linguistic analysis of the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Modern Standard Arabic. In phonology it covers the phonemic inventory of MSA, allophones and allophonic variation, phonological processes, phonotactics, syllable structure, stress rules, and transliteration systems. Derivational and inflectional morphology are extensively covered, including morphophonemics, the root/pattern system, discontinuous morphology, lexical expansion (analogical derivation, compounding, borrowing, and other processes) and morphosyntax. Topics in syntax focus on governance theory in Arabic and agreement systems. 
The basic text for this course is: 
Ryding, Karin C. Arabic: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course is an introduction to how Arabic (both the Standard and the colloquial) is used in the different Arab societies and communities. We will study how the variation in Arabic is influenced by different sociological variables such as education, social status, politics, gender, and religion. Topics also include diglossia (native speakers’ use of Standard Arabic and the colloquial), switching between Arabic and foreign languages (code-switching), switching between Standard Arabic and the colloquial (diglossic-switching), the official status of Arabic and foreign languages in the Arab countries. The class will also cover the Arabic spoken by immigrant communities of Arab descent (Heritage Arabic), and the peripheral dialects of Arabic. 

This course will examine various instances of contemporary Egyptian cultural production (memoirs, novels,
stories, songs, video, visual arts) produced under the banner of revolution. At the same time, we will consider 
the enduring memory of previous revolutionary moments in Egyptian history as well as the place of culture 
within social movement theory. 

While many of the theoretical and secondary readings for this course will be in English, most primary sources
will be in MSA and Egyptian colloquial Arabic. Discussion and writing assignments can be in Arabic or in 
English.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course offers a comprehensive introduction into the major domains of Arabic linguistics. It covers traditional and current approaches to Arabic linguistic research. The course explores the state of the art of the major domains such as the traditional grammar theory, the current morphological and syntactic theory, the contemporary approaches to studying Arabic sociolinguistic, and the most recent approaches.

Islam has been in the news. And slavery has been in the news. And ‘Islam & slavery’ has been in the news. These are some major understatements. When ISIS achieved prominence in 2014, Western audiences were stunned by the movement’s revival of enslaving prisoners of war. Many, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, were shocked at ISIS’ justification of slavery with reference to Islam’s scriptures and laws. But the debate over Islam & slavery is much older, going back centuries. It forms part of the global history of the phenomenon called slavery, a phenomenon that is as controversial at the level of academic study as it has been in its real-world manifestations. This course will examine efforts of philosophers and scholars to describe, justify or criticize a spectrum of phenomena we call slavery. It will place the Islamic tradition within this setting, charting the history, laws and practices of slavery in Islamic civilization, following it all the way up to debates over abolition and the efforts of some to revive and defend slavery today.

The history of the modern Middle East has been shaped by war and mass migration, but all too often these phenomena are understood only in the abstract—as masses of numbers. This course explores the experiences of war and migration through literary works that grapple with them on the level of individual, lived experience. In this course, we will survey works from a variety of national situations—Turkey, Israel-Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq —with an eye toward uncovering shared experiences across the region.

This new language elective course offers students the opportunity to interact on a real-time basis with an Arabic-speaking partner. Students divide the time spent between Arabic and English. They record and submit video chat sessions to the instructor, complete written journal entries and provide other feedback as requested. This course is intended for intermediate and advanced level students who wish to extend their oral proficiency, especially those planning a semester abroad in an Arabic-speaking context. Participation is limited to 15 students.

Credits: 1 Credit

Prerequisites: One year, two semesters of MSA
Credits: 1
Prerequisites: 1 Year MSA

Academics, journalists and policy makers regularly refer to Islam, the West and the knotty question of Islam and the West. Stepping outside of ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’, however, we see that neither is a concrete and unchanging reality. Both exist as ideas conceived by particular communities and perceived by others. This course will examine these constructs through in-depth reading in the ‘classics’ of both civilizations, such as the Aeneid, works by Rudyard Kipling, the Quran and pre-Islamic epic poetry. This course will explore the civilizations and heritages of the Islamic and Western worlds by reflecting on the form and content of their classic works, as well as by questioning how and why they earned such prominence.

This course will cover material that includes the history of the interpreting profession, the modes of interpreting and theories, and the strategies and techniques of both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting.

This course will focus on the close reading and interpretation of poetry texts from 1950 on, including Free Verse, Prose Poem and `Ammiyyah Poetry. Literary critical themes include such topics as (post)-colonialism, Modernism, committed poetry, the influence of the West (T.S. Eliot), poetry and identity, resistance poetry, metapoetry, poetry of the Arab Spring. Final projects will allow students to pursue their individual interests. Except for some translation, class will be conducted in Arabic, assigned class presentations, essays and final project and paper are to be in Arabic. Critical readings are in English and Arabic. The instructor will assist students in choosing readings and essay and paper topics appropriate to their levels and interests.

This course will focus on the close reading and translation of selected passages from the works of al-Jahiz, such as Al-Bayan wa al-Tabyin, Al-Hayawan and Al-Bukhala’ with a view to introducing Islamic humanistic adab and developing accuracy and proficiency in the reading of classical Arabic texts.

Prerequisite for undergrads: 3rd year Arabic.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Prerequisite for undergrads: 3rd year Arabic.

This course will take the poetry of the most celebrated of the classical Arabic poets, al-Mutanabbi, as an introduction to classical Arabic poetry. It will focus on close readings of poetic texts to explore how al-Mutanabbi used the classical poetic form to create a dynamic and dramatic persona for himself as poet, hero and warrior. We will explore how he employed the poetics of praise and blame to negotiate rank and status and to confer and retract allegiance in the complex political landscape of the 4th/10th century, such as the courts of Sayf al-Dawlah in Aleppo and Kāfūr al-Ikhshīdī in Egypt.

Class time will be devoted to close reading and translation (into English) of selected poems; class discussion will be primarily in Arabic. Additional readings in English and Arabic will be assigned according to students’ Arabic levels and interests. Final projects, which may be translations or research papers, will be selected in consultation with the instructor

This seminar explores the variation in the structure of colloquial and Standard Arabic within the framework of dialectology. The course treats variation within and across Standard Arabic and the dialects as a corollary of the linguistic, socio-historical and cultural surroundings of the different Arabic varieties. Using methods of linguistic analysis and empirical fieldwork, the course will train students on the comparative analysis of Arabic and the relationships between the Arabic varieties.
Students are required to have intermediate level of Standard Arabic and knowledge of one dialect of Arabic.

Seminar 
Needs Arabic language reading skill 
Cap: 20 
This class will investigate the important Islamic thought genre of fatwas, or legal response. It will involve in-depth reading in the Arabic sources, discussion of their contents, and a survey of existing scholarship on the subject.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Since the late nineteenth century, Arab writers have experimented broadly and at times radically with the form of the novel. Yet, the very emergence of this literary form in the modern Arab context begs many questions. To begin with, there is the old question about whether the Arabic novel was imported wholesale from the West, or whether it emerged organically in conversation with indigenous forms. We might pose this old question more bluntly: Was the Arabic novel an instance of colonial-era borrowing or, worse, a cultural artifact imposed by Western cultural hegemony? Certainly, many early experiments with the novel borrowed directly from European models, just as others drew self-consciously upon older Arabic narrative fiction forms, whether from the realm of the popular (like the Thousand and One Nights), or from that of the elite (like the maqama). At the same time, in recent years, as Arab authors have begun to write in European languages, these connections have become increasingly complex. The apparent tension and even conflict between the novel and religious orthodoxy in the modern Arab world is one of the central questions we will explore in this course. Other related questions we will address are: the effective ability of the novel to critique political oppression; the role novels play in the articulation of human rights norms; the limits of the novel’s significance in illiterate (and post-literate) societies; the novel as a supplement to official history; the novel in conversation with other mass media, especially film. Throughout, we will also ask what it means to be a writer in the modern Arab world. Most of all, however, we will be reading some of the greatest landmarks of the modern and contemporary Arabic novel in translation. 

Analyzing political discourse can be done through Critical Discourse Analysis or the (Socio)-linguistic Analysis. Following the (socio)-linguistic approach, this course introduces the descriptive, rhetorical and sociolinguistic approaches to the analysis of Arabic political discourse. The course will survey a variety of studies on the Arabic political discourse and their linguistic and rhetorical strategies for achieving a wide range of political objectives such as influence and persuasion. The linguistic tools for analyzing the discourse include word choice, naming and reference, predication, sentence constructions (such as transitivity, modality), speech acts, presupposition, rhetorical devices (such as metaphors, puns), code switching. Students will analyze a variety of texts on the Arabic political discourse. Readings will be in Arabic and English. The class will be conducted in Arabic and the homework and the research will be written in Arabic. Students are expected to be in the post advanced level of Arabic. 

This class focuses on modern Arabic novels for three of the most important contemporary novelists in the Arab World. We will read these novels throughout the course with a focus on the story of the novel, its theme, vision, narrator’s views and positions, narrative style, characters and language. At the end of each novel, students will be assigned to write papers through which they discuss the novel in details, analyze and critique it. Similarly, at the end of the semester, the students will be assigned to write an extended paper to discuss a contemporary Arab novel chosen by the student, which we haven’t studied in class. We will introduce each these readings with a theoretical introduction for the modern Arabic novel.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

The course focuses on the rise and development of philosophy in the Arabic and Islamic Middle-Ages. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to some of the main issues dealt with by philosophers and theologians of classical Islam: What are the most fundamental components of reality? What is the status of universal or mental objects? What does it mean to be a thing? Is the world eternal or created? Is the connection between the generally accepted ideas of “cause” and “effect” a necessary one? What do the philosophers mean when they call to jihad? What is the legal status of philosophy? 
The course will explore such questions in the original writings of philosophers and theologians of classical Islam and is open to any student interested in learning more about the debates and discussions they triggered. No knowledge of Islam or Arabic is required and all readings are available in English.
The course combines lecture with discussions stemming from a close reading of texts. 
Syllabus, assigned readings, documents for the course will be available through Blackboard as of the first day of class.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None. No knowledge of Arabic or Islam is required.
– This course meets the General Education requirement in Philosophy (non ethics). It also counts toward a major or a minor in Philosophy.
– If you wish to count this course toward a major or a minor in Theology, please contact Prof. Christopher Steck in the Department of Theology.

Islam has been in the news. And slavery has been in the news. And ‘Islam & slavery’ has been in the news. These are some major understatements. When ISIS achieved prominence in 2014, Western audiences were stunned by the movement’s revival of enslaving prisoners of war. Many, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, were shocked at ISIS’ justification of slavery with reference to Islam’s scriptures and laws. But the debate over Islam & slavery is much older, going back centuries. It forms part of the global history of the phenomenon called slavery, a phenomenon that is as controversial at the level of academic study as it has been in its real-world manifestations. This course will examine efforts of philosophers and scholars to describe, justify or criticize a spectrum of phenomena we call slavery. It will place the Islamic tradition within this setting, charting the history, laws and practices of slavery in Islamic civilization, following it all the way up to debates over abolition and the efforts of some to revive and defend slavery today. 

Was there any political philosophy in classical Islam? What was the place left for politics in the shadow of religion? Was there any distinction between the sphere of ethics and that of politics? What kind of questions, if any, would the philosophers raise concerning the state and its origin, power, law, community etc.? Those are few out of several more questions that this course intends to answer through the study of the most prominent figures in Islamic philosophy. The emphasis of the course is on texts. Beginning with the literature of councels (mirror of princes), the course will address, among others, the issues of the exercise of power, the relationship between religion and politics, the lawgiver; political organizations (virtuous city and imperfect regimes) and their transformation, through the works of al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Bajja (Avempace) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), ending with Ibn Khaldun.

All texts are provided in English translation as well as in Arabic. The class is conducted in English but students who would like to read the texts in Arabic are welcome to do so.
This course has 1 hour/week optional discussion session in Arabic.

This course is an exploration of late Ottoman Islamic thought, with a focus on the legal corpus of the Mecelle legal code, the Ottoman Family Law Code of 1917 and the prolific and diverse writings of Mehmet Zahit Kevseri (d. 1952), the last academic Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman Empire. The class will consist of two aspects: first, close readings of primary source texts; second, an exploration of secondary source scholarship on the subject. Students will be given flexibility in pursuing their own research interests linked to the topic of late Ottoman thought, and this will culminate in a seminar paper for the class.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Critical Approaches to the Arabic Qasida will consist of the close reading of selected Arabic odes in light of a variety of contemporary critical approaches. It is structured in such a way as to provide a historical survey of the qasida while progressively examining a range of applied critical and theoretical work. Unit I: Pre-Islamic Poetry explores the Jahili foundations of the Arabic poetic tradition in light of ritual theory, orality /literacy and philology. Unit II: Early Islamic and Umayyad Ode, uses performative theory to examine the transformation of the Jahili qasida into a poetic medium for the expression of Islamic allegiance and empire. Unit III deals with the qasida in the ?Abbasid Golden Age and the subsequent Andalusian Age in light of performance theory and the politics and poetics of patronage. Unit IV turns to interarts theory and metapoetic theory to examine the relationship between poetry and the other arts—painting, music and architecture. Finally, Unit V on Neo-Classical poetry of the colonial period engages Post-Colonial theory to interpret the qasida of the Nah’ah period as a response to Western colonial hegemony.

The course is intended to give a foundation in the Arabic poetic tradition for students in Arabic and Islamic studies and a foundation in literary theory and method for students specializing in Arabic literature.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course will familiarize students with the sources, research  tools and methods used in the field of Islamic Studies. We will look  at the history of the discipline and survey its major areas of  research, including history, language and literature, religious  sciences, intellectual sciences, and social studies. 

This course is designed to expose students to genres and source texts that depict or record the function of of the Islamic legal tradition in practice. It will explore select chronicles, biographical dictionaries, and judges’ manuals from the pre-modern period, as well as early modern and modern court records from assorted Muslim legal institutions. The main readings will be in Arabic, accompanied by secondary source readings in European languages. As learning objectives, students will acquire greater familiarity with Islamic legal history and research in that field, and reading Arabic legal material. Proficient Arabic reading is required.

Since the late nineteenth century, Arab writers have experimented broadly and at times radically with the form of the novel. Yet, the very emergence of this literary form in the modern Arab context begs many questions. To begin with, there is the old question about whether the Arabic novel was imported wholesale from the West, or whether it emerged organically in conversation with indigenous forms. We might pose this old question more bluntly: Was the Arabic novel an instance of colonial-era borrowing or, worse, a cultural artifact imposed by Western cultural hegemony? Certainly, many early experiments with the novel borrowed directly from European models, just as others drew self-consciously upon older Arabic narrative fiction forms, whether from the realm of the popular (like the Thousand and One Nights), or from that of the elite (like the maqama). At the same time, in recent years, as Arab authors have begun to write in European languages, these connections have become increasingly complex.

The apparent tension and even conflict between the novel and religious orthodoxy in the modern Arab world is one of the central questions we will explore in this course. Other related questions we will address are: the effective ability of the novel to critique political oppression; the role novels play in the articulation of human rights norms; the limits of the novel’s significance in illiterate (and post-literate) societies; the novel as a supplement to official history; the novel in conversation with other mass media, especially film. Throughout, we will also ask what it means to be a writer in the modern Arab world. Most of all, however, we will be reading some of the greatest landmarks of the modern and contemporary Arabic novel in translation.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course introduces students to the main concepts of Islamic law and points out controversies among Muslim jurists as well as scholars of Islamic law. The first part of the course covers the historical development of Islamic law, its sources, and tools of law-finding. The second part, which concentrates on the modern period, gives an overview of different areas of law, such as commercial law, criminal law, family law and the position of women, law and the state, and human rights. 

This advanced seminar offers a close and thorough reading of a selection of literary, philosophical and theological writings of classical Islam. Texts will be read in Arabic, translated orally, explained and commented upon. A good knowledge of classical Arabic is required. The objective of the course is to familiarize the students with reading and analyzing classical sources in Arabic, and to introduce them to the intellectual context of the time.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Early Arabic Poetry: Ritual, Orality and Performance seeks to situate the pre- and early Islamic qasida within the purview of contemporary literary critical approaches as a basis for the close reading, translation and interpretation of the original Arabic texts. Special attention will be given to the transition from the Jahiliyyah to Islam. Class time will be divided between discussions of the literary critical readings, the translation (including issues of philology and grammar) of the texts, and the literary interpretation of texts. Except for the translation segment, the class will be conducted primarily in Arabic. The course will be conducted in seminar format: that is, the students are expected to prepare to translate and to present and discuss the critical readings in class. Some of the readings and translations will be divided in small group assignments to enable us to cover all the material.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Poetry and Performance will combine the close reading and translation of classical Arabic poetic texts from the Umayyad and Abbasid periods along with their prose contexts (such as Kitab al-Aghani) together with readings in contemporary critical theory on Performance, Speech Acts and the Rhetoric of Empire. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of poetry to negotiate rank and status, to perform rituals of swearing and retracting allegiance, and to confer or deny Islamic legitimacy.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

In this course, we will read, translate and interpret selected works from the two celebrated poetry collections of the blind Syrian ascetic poet Abu al-`Ala’ al-Ma’arri (d. 1058 CE). We will examine his youthful collection, Saqt al-Zand (Sparks of the Flint) in light of performative poetics as the young al-Maarri performs the obligations of kinship, friendship and politics through the form of the Arabic ode (qasida). We will then examine his poetics of withdrawal and disengagement when, after failing to make a place for himself in the highly competitive poetic circles of Baghdad, he returns to his provincial hometown of Ma`arrat al-Nu`man and withdraws into an embittered, ascetic and contemplative life. This is the setting for his renowned double-rhymed collection, al-Luzumiyyat (Compulsories), in which short pieces, rhyming in all the consonants of the Arabic alphabet and vowel endings, range from piety to skepticism, from the sincere to the sardonic. 
Course requirements: attendance and participation 30%; three 6-7 page essays 45%; final project 25%.
Prerequisite: reading knowledge of Classical Arabic

This advanced seminar offers a close and thorough reading of a selection of early kalam texts. Texts will be read in Arabic, translated orally, explained and commented upon. A good knowledge of classical Arabic is required. The objective of the course is to familiarize the students with reading and analyzing classical sources in Arabic, while introducing them to the intellectual and theological context of the early Abbasid period.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course introduces students to hadith literature and the science of hadith. It looks at the origin, development, and criticism of the hadith literature as well as the debates surrounding its transmission, authority, and application. For this purpose we read materials in Arabic and English discussing the role and function of the hadith literature. 
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Classical Arabic Literary Texts will focus on the close reading and accurate translation of passages from classical Arabic literary texts such as Kitab al-Aghani and al-Iqd al-Farid. Other texts will be selected in accordance with student interest. The course will also review grammar (syntax and morphology) as needed to assure that students emerge from the course with a good command of the tools needed for reading and research in classical Arabic materials.

Requirements and Grading: class preparation, attendance and participation: 35%; bi-weekly text review quizzes and written translation exercises: 35%; final individual translation project: 30%
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the techniques and methodology used in establishing Arabic Medieval texts (collating the manuscripts, deciphering the script, stemma, marginalia, critical apparatus, etc) through the edition of a yet unedited text. The question of the formation and development of a scientific and philosophical technical terminology will also be addressed through the translation and translation of the text at stake. The course will take the form of a workshop where all the participants will engage in the process of edition and translation. Students will be provided with copies of the available manuscripts in which the text is extant.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

This course, which is based primarily on Arabic materials, addresses the perpetual problem faced by a legal system that is based on a finite body of text (Qur’an and hadith): How to extend and adapt the limited textual material to an unlimited possibility of legal instances. We will be reading passages from works of Islamic legal theorists of the pre-modern period (al-Ghazali, al-Razi, al-Qarafi, and al-Tufi) that address how to attain legal change without straying from the sources of the law. We will focus on the concept of maslaha as one method to find solutions for unprecedented situations, looking at its various interpretations and their effects on its potential to achieve legal change.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None