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.

Certificate of Advanced Study in Arabic Language and Literature

In order to receive the Certificate of Advanced Study in Arabic Language and Literature 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. Although courses for the certificate may be taken on a S/CR/NC basis, "D" or "CR" level work will not be sufficent to satisfy course requirements. No more than twelve credits from off-campus Arabic language study may be applied toward the certificate.

Arabic Courses (ARBC)


ARBC 100 Arabs Encountering the West The encounter between Arabs and Westerners has been marked by its fair share of sorrow and suspicion. In this seminar we will read literary works by Arab authors written over approximately 1000 years--from the Crusades, the height of European imperialism, and on into the age of Iraq, Obama and ISIS. Through our readings and discussions, we will ask along with Arab authors: Is conflict between Arabs and Westerners the inevitable and unbridgeable result of differing world-views, religions and cultures? Are differences just a result of poor communication? Or is this "cultural conflict" something that can be understood historically? 6 credits; WR1, AI, IS; Fall; Z. Haidar
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; Y. Klein, Z. 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; Z. 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; Z. 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; Not offered 2016-17
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; Y. Klein, Z. 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; Y. 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; Z. 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; Winter; Z. Haidar
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; Spring; Y. Klein
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; S/CR/NC; ARP; Spring; I. Rafea
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; Not offered 2016-17
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 2016-17
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; Spring; Y. Klein
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; Not offered 2016-17

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; Winter; S. Beckwith
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; Spring; S. Beckwith
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; Not offered 2016-17
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; Not offered 2016-17
HEBR 222 Writing Tel Aviv Writing Jerusalem In this course we will explore and compare the evolving character of Israel's two major cities. How are Tel Aviv's founding Zionist ideals and the Middle Eastern realities that challenged them portrayed in Israeli literature? Since Yitzhak Rabin's 1995 assassination in the city, writers remain conflicted over Rabin Square as both an urban hub and an epicenter of national loss and change. From Tel Aviv we will move to Jerusalem with its much longer multicultural history. Since the 1880s, how have Mediterranean Jewish, Northern European Jewish, and Palestinian authors portrayed it as home, with personal and collective captivation? In translation. 6 credits; LA, WR2, IS; Not offered 2016-17

Middle Eastern Language Courses (MELA)

MELA 121 Mid East Persp Israeli and Palestini Lit 6 credits; LA, IS; Winter
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 2016-17

Pertinent Courses

  • ARBC 185 The Creation of Classical Arabic Literature (not offered in 2016-17)
  • ARTH 155 Islamic Art and Architecture (not offered in 2016-17)
  • CAMS 236 Israeli Society in Israeli Cinema (not offered in 2016-17)
  • CAMS 236F Israeli Society in Israeli Cinema - FLAC Hebrew Trailer (not offered in 2016-17)
  • CCST 100 Cross Cultural Perspectives on Israeli and Palestinian Identity
  • MUSC 172 Oud