Middle Eastern Languages

The Department of Middle Eastern Languages offers introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses in Arabic and Hebrew language, and a variety of courses in classical and modern Arabic and modern Hebrew literature, mostly in English translation. We also offer courses in Israeli and wider Jewish history and culture.

Requirements for the Arabic Minor

In order to receive the minor in Arabic students shall satisfactorily complete 36 credits beyond 204, in the following distribution: at least twenty-four credits in Arabic language, and at least 6 credits from among the department of Middle Eastern Languages' offerings in Arabic literature and/or culture in translation. No more than twelve credits from off-campus Arabic language study may be applied toward the minor.

Arabic Courses (ARBC)


ARBC 101 Elementary Arabic This course sequence introduces non-Arabic speakers to the sounds, script, and basic grammar of Arabic-the language of 200 million speakers in the Arab world and the liturgical language of over a billion Muslims. Students will develop basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic. Classes will incorporate readings and audio-visual material from contemporary Arabic media, as well as popular music. 6 credits; NE; Fall; Zaki A Haidar
ARBC 102 Elementary Arabic This course sequence introduces non-Arabic speakers to the sounds, script, and basic grammar of Arabic--the language of 200 million speakers in the Arab world and the liturgical language of over a billion Muslims. Students will develop basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic. Classes will incorporate readings and audio-visual material from contemporary Arabic media, as well as popular music. Prerequisite: Arabic 101 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Winter; Zaki A Haidar
ARBC 103 Elementary Arabic This course sequence introduces non-Arabic speakers to the sounds, script, and basic grammar of Arabic--the language of 200 million speakers in the Arab world and the liturgical language of over a billion Muslims. Students will develop basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic. Classes will incorporate readings and audio-visual material from contemporary Arabic media, as well as popular music. Prerequisite: Arabic 102 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Spring; Zaki A Haidar
ARBC 144 Arabic Literature at War Arabic literature is a vibrant and humane tradition. At the same time, several Arab societies have experienced periods of exceedingly violent conflict throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries. In this course, we will investigate the ways these two currents—war and the literary—converge in several Arab societies. As members of societies at war, but also as literary artists, how do authors represent these conflicting narratives? What sorts of war stories do they tell, how do they tell them, and what sort of literary practice is produced? We will study the birth of the Lebanese Civil War novel as a bona fide genre in the 1970s and 80s, how literature informed anti-colonial struggles in Palestine and Algeria from the 1950s to the present, and read some works of genre-bending horror and science fiction that have appeared in the wake of Iraq’s recent destruction. Taught in English, no knowledge of Arabic is required. 6 credits; LA, WR2, IS; Winter; Zaki A Haidar
ARBC 185 The Creation of Classical Arabic Literature In this course we will explore the emergence of Arabic literature in one of the most exciting and important periods in the history of the Islamic and Arab world; a time in which pre-Islamic Arabian lore was combined with translated Persian wisdom literature and Greek scientific and philosophical writings. We will explore some of the different literary genres that emerged in the New Arab courts and urban centers: from wine and love poetry, historical and humorous anecdotes, to the Thousand and One Nights, and discuss the socio-historical forces and institutions that shaped them. All readings are in English. No Arabic knowledge required. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; Yaron Klein
ARBC 204 Intermediate Arabic In this course sequence students will continue to develop their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, while building a solid foundation of Arabic grammar (morphology and syntax). Students will develop their ability to express ideas in Modern Standard Arabic by writing essays and preparing oral presentations. Classes will incorporate readings and audio-visual material from contemporary Arabic media, as well as popular music. Prerequisite: Arabic 103 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Fall; Zaki A Haidar
ARBC 205 Intermediate Arabic In this course sequence students will continue to develop their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, while building a solid foundation of Arabic grammar (morphology and syntax). Students will develop their ability to express ideas in Modern Standard Arabic by writing essays and preparing oral presentations. Classes will incorporate readings and audio-visual material from contemporary Arabic media, as well as popular music. Prerequisite: Arabic 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Winter; Yaron Klein
ARBC 206 Arabic in Cultural Context In this course students will continue to develop their Arabic language skills, including expanding their command of Arabic grammar, improving their listening comprehension, reading and writing skills. In addition to more language-focused training, the course will introduce students to more advanced readings, including literary texts (prose and poetry, classical and modern) and op-ed articles from current media. Class discussions will be in Arabic. Prerequisite: Arabic 205 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Spring; Zaki A Haidar
ARBC 211 Colloquial Levantine Arabic In this course we will focus on acquiring conversational and listening comprehension skills, and building vocabulary in the Levantine/Shami dialect of spoken Arabic, spoken throughout bilad al-Sham or "Greater Syria." Building upon the foundation of Modern Standard Arabic, we will focus upon points of grammatical and semantic convergence and divergence, and work to develop strategies for fluidly navigating our way between and within these two linguistic registers. We will study the language systematically, but we will also incorporate a range of written and audiovisual materials--music, films, television and web series--as well as other popular culture from the region. Prerequisite: Arabic 204. 6 credits; NE; Not offered 2017-18
ARBC 222 Music in the Middle East The Middle East is home to a great number of musical styles, genres, and traditions. Regional, ideological, and cultural diversity, national identity, and cross-cultural encounters--all express themselves in music. We will explore some of the many musical traditions in the Arab world, from early twentieth century to the present. Class discussions based on readings in English and guided listening. No prior music knowledge required, but interested students with or without musical background can participate in an optional, hands-on Arab music performance workshop, on Western or a few (provided) Middle Eastern instruments throughout the term. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2017-18
ARBC 223 Arab Music Workshop Through music making, this workshop introduces students to Arab music and some of its distinctive features, such as microtonality, modality (maqam), improvisation (taqsim) and rhythmic patterns (iqa'at). Students may elect to participate playing on an instrument they already play, or elect to study the oud (the Arab lute). Ouds and percussion instruments will be provided. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Arabic 222. 1 credit; ARP; Not offered 2017-18
ARBC 286 Narratives of Arab Modernity In this course, we will read formative works of modern Arabic literature from Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. We will trace the processes of societal and literary transformation, from the texts of the nahda or Arabic literary and intellectual renaissance, to contemporary works written in the era of Arab "springs" and revolutions. We will approach these literary texts--poetry, fiction, and graphic novels-- as works of literature with aesthetic claims upon us as readers, even as we treat the contentious relationship between the literary and the political in a period marked by colonialism, nationalism, war, revolution, Islamism and secularism. All readings are in English. 6 credits; LA, IS; Winter; Zaki A Haidar
ARBC 310 Advanced Media Arabic Readings of excerpts from the Arabic press and listening to news editions, commentaries and other radio and TV programs from across the Arab world. Emphasis is on vocabulary expansion, text comprehension strategies, and further development of reading and listening comprehension. Class includes oral discussions and regular written assignments in Arabic. Prerequisite: Arabic 206. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2017-18
ARBC 371 Readings in Pre-Modern Arabic Science It is difficult to overstate Arab scientists' contribution to science. A translation movement from Greek, Persian and Sanskrit into Arabic initiated in the eighth century, led to centuries of innovative scientific investigation, during which Arab scientists reshaped science in a variety of disciplines: from mathematics to astronomy, physics, optics and medicine. Many of their works entered Latin and the European curriculum during the Renaissance. In this reading course we will explore some of the achievements and thought processes in pre-modern Arabic scientific literature by reading selections from several seminal works. We will examine these in the cultural contexts in which they emerged and to which they contributed, and reflect on modern Western perceptions of this intellectual project. Readings and class discussions will be in both Arabic and English. Prerequisite: Arabic 206 or equivalent. 3 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2017-18
ARBC 387 The One Thousand and One Nights This course is an exploration of the world of the Thousand and One Nights, the most renowned Arabic literary work of all time. The marvelous tales spun by Shahrazad have captured and excited the imagination of readers and listeners--both Arab and non-Arab--for centuries. In class, we will read in Arabic, selections from the Nights, and engage some of the scholarly debates surrounding this timeless work. We will discuss the question of its origin in folklore and popular culture and the mystery of its "authorship," as well as the winding tale of its reception, adaptation and translation. Readings and class discussions will be in both Arabic and English. Prerequisite: Arabic 206. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; Yaron Klein

Hebrew Courses (HEBR)

HEBR 101 Elementary Modern Hebrew Think beyond the Bible! Modern Hebrew is a vital language in several fields from religion and history to international relations and the sciences. This course is for students with no previous knowledge of Modern Hebrew or whose test scores indicate that this is an appropriate level of placement. We continually integrate listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Hebrew, incorporating materials from the Israeli internet and films into level appropriate class activities and assignments. 6 credits; NE; Not offered 2017-18
HEBR 102 Elementary Modern Hebrew This course is for students who have completed Hebrew 101 or whose test scores indicate that this is an appropriate level of placement. We continue expanding our vocabulary and grammar knowledge, integrating listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Hebrew. We also continue working with Israeli films and internet, particularly for a Karaoke in Hebrew group project which involves learning and performing an Israeli pop song and researching the artists' background and messages for a class presentation. Prerequisite: Hebrew 101 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Not offered 2017-18
HEBR 103 Elementary Modern Hebrew This course is for students who have completed Hebrew 102 or whose test scores indicate that this is an appropriate level of placement. We continue expanding our vocabulary and grammar knowledge, integrating listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Hebrew. We also continue working with Israeli films and internet, particularly to publish in-class magazines in Hebrew on topics related to Israel, the Middle East, and Judaic Studies. Prerequisite: Hebrew 102 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Fall; Stacy N Beckwith
HEBR 204 Intermediate Modern Hebrew In this course students will strengthen their command of modern conversational, literary and newspaper Hebrew. As in the elementary sequence, we will continually integrate listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Hebrew. Popular Israeli music, broadcasts, internet sources, and films will complement the course's goals. Class projects include a term long research paper on a topic related to Israel, the Middle East, or Judaic Studies. Students will create a poster in Hebrew to illustrate their research. They will discuss this with other Hebrew speakers on campus at a class poster session toward the end of the course. Prerequisite: Hebrew 103 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Winter; Stacy N Beckwith

Middle Eastern Language Courses (MELA)

MELA 121 Middle East Perspectives in Israeli and Palestinian Literature and Film As a crossroads of diverse perspectives such a multicultural, but fraught environment in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian literature and film offer a kaleidoscopic socio-cultural introduction to Middle East Studies, in microcosm. We will focus on how mental pictures of home, self, and other have been created, perpetuated, and/or challenged in local fiction since the 1940s and in film since the 1990s, by authors and artists of Middle Eastern Jewish, European Jewish, and Palestinian backgrounds. We will also explore community, generational, and gender-relevant responses to their projections of post/colonial history and national life in Israel/ Palestine. 6 credits; LA, IS; Winter; Stacy N Beckwith
MELA 230 Jewish Collective Memory Judaism emphasizes transmitting memory from one generation to the next. How have pivotal events and experiences in Jewish history lived on in Jewish collective memory? How do they continue to speak through artistic/literary composition and museum/memorial design? How does Jewish collective memory compare with recorded Jewish history? We will study turning points in Jewish history including the Exodus from Egypt, Jewish expulsion from medieval Spain, the Holocaust, and Israeli independence, as Jews in different times and places have interpreted them with lasting influence. Research includes work with print, film, and other visual/ performative media. 6 credits; HI, IS, WR2; Not offered 2017-18

Pertinent Courses

  • ARBC 185 The Creation of Classical Arabic Literature
  • CAMS 236 Israeli Society in Israeli Cinema (not offered in 2017-18)
  • CAMS 236F Israeli Society in Israeli Cinema - FLAC Hebrew Trailer (not offered in 2017-18)
  • CCST 100 Cross Cultural Perspectives on Israeli and Palestinian Identity
  • MUSC 172 Oud