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BA Arabic Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Arabic Literature in Translation

Unit code MEST30121
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Through the reading of selected Arabic literary texts in translation, the course aims to introduce students to the language, style and scope of modern and postmodern Arabic literature. The main theme of the unit will be “Nature”. Taking into consideration the amazing diversity of landscape, geography, and climate within the Arab world, it is no surprise that natural phenomena have constituted an integral site for inspiration, creative expression, and reflection for Arab writers. In order to study some of the significant implications of Nature, this unit will encourage students to think critically about the following subjects: Nature in relation to Body, Sexuality, Love and Romance; Nature in relation to Conflict and Loss of Homeland; Nature in relation to Violence and Madness; and Nature in relation to Disability.

Aims

  • To enhance the students’ ability to analyse literary texts in a comparative context.
  • To highlight the significance of “comparative analysis” in the study of Arabic literature.
  • To introduce the students to basic conceptual and aesthetic approaches found in translated Arabic literature into English, and in critical essays and articles by academic scholars.
  • To raise the students’ critical awareness of themes and issues represented in modern and postmodern Arabic literature.
  • To enhance the students’ skills in writing academic essays in English on literature, and engaging with scholarly work.
  • To enhance the students’ critical writing of short ‘reflections’ on the texts with the aim of strengthening their literary analytical skills and critical writing skills, whilst engaging with scholarly work in essays and articles.
  • To enhance the students’ skills in group work, discussion and presentations of ideas in a literary context.

Syllabus

The unit will be structured around the following subjects: Nature in relation to Body, Sexuality, Love and Romance; Nature in relation to Race, Conflict, and Violence; Nature in relation to Belonging and Notions of Place and Homeland; and Nature in relation to Illness and Disability. These themes will be discussed in a broad range of Arabic novels, short stories and poems in English translation, with a focus on Modern and Post-modern writers of the Arab world, including: Nizar Qabbani (Syria); Nawal Sa‘adawi (Egypt); Mourid Barghouti (Palestine); Abdulrahman Munif (Saudi Arabia); Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (Iraq); Hassan Daoud (Lebanon); Ibrahim al-Kouni (Libya). 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Read, show understanding and contextualize selected texts of translated Arabic literature by prominent authors, as well engage with scholarly work on the set themes.
  • Develop a conceptual framework for the understanding of major themes and ideas reflected in modern Arabic literature, particuarly the key notion of “Nature”.
  • Enhance their skills in reading and appreciating Arabic literary works in English translation in a comparative context.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Apply basic tools of analysis and critique to selected literary texts.
  • Writing academic essays in English on literature.
  • Enhance their skills in writing short literary reviews in English about selected texts.
  • Develop their skills in group work, discussion and presentation of ideas.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Apply critical and analytical thinking skills to close readings of literary texts and scholarly articles, in order to understand and reflect on political and historical arguments, cultural discussions, and literary motifs and symbols.
  • Actively participate in class discussions, and the ability to work as part of a team or a group of students.
  • Present written ideas clearly.
  • Use library resources such as JSTOR and other databases and electronic journals.
  • Apply time management skills to their studies.
  • Effective verbal and written communication.
  • Effective skills in writing short and long essays in English. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Apply critical and analytical thinking skills to close readings of literary texts in order to understand and reflect on political and historical arguments, cultural discussions, and literary motifs and symbols.
  • Active participation in class discussions.
  • The ability to work as part of a team or a group of students.
  • Present written ideas clearly.
  • Use library resources such as JSTOR and other databases and electronic journals.
  • Apply time management skills to their studies.
  • Effective verbal and written communication.
  • Effective skills in writing short and long essays in English.

Employability skills

Other
The course will develop the students¿ skills in critical thinking and writing in English; enhance skills is effective verbal and written communication; the organisation of ideas in a structured and clear manner; effective time management; team work and the ability to express ideas clearly in front of colleagues. These skills will help the students in the job market, as future teachers, journalists, workers in developmental organisations, and other cultural fields.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Length

Weighting within unit

1 x essay in English

1 x exam in English

3,000 words

2 hrs

50%

50%

 

Feedback methods

 

  • Written feedback on essay within 14 working days of submission
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)
  • Feedback on formative assessment (weekly short reflections on texts; and essay plan/outline)
  • Final revision session and advice on the preparation for the final exam.

Recommended reading

Algahtani, N. “Defying Convention: Saudi Women Writers and the Shift from Periphery to Centre”.  Women’s Studies International Forum, 59 (2016), pp. 26–31.

Badawi, M. M. (ed.) Modern Arabic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

Badran, M. and Cooke M. (eds.) Opening the Gates: A Century of Arab Feminist Writing (London: Virago, 1990)

Munif, A. Cities of Salt (part 1). P. Theroux (Trans.) (Vintage Books, 1988).

On Entering the Sea: The Erotic and other Poetry of Nizar Qabbani (NY: Interlink Books, 1996).

Jayyusi, S. K. (ed.) Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology (NY: Columbia University Press, 1987).

Neuwirth, A. et al. (eds.) Arabic Literature: Postmodern Perspectives (London: Saqi, 2010).

Sa‘dawi, N. Memoirs of a Woman Doctor. Catherine Cobham (Trans.) (City Lights Books, 1989).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Dalia Mostafa Unit coordinator

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