BA Art History and Arabic

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Nature, the Environment and Politics in Modern Arabic Literature

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 in English translation of selected Arabic novels, short stories, poetry and extracts from memoirs, the course aims to introduce students to the language, style and scope of modern and postmodern Arabic literature in a comparative context. The main theme of the unit is “Nature” and how it takes various forms of representation in literature. Taking into consideration the enormous 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 political reflection for Arab writers. In order to study some of the significant implications of Nature in literature, 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 Race, Conflict and Violence; Nature in relation to Belonging and Notions of Place and Homeland; and Nature in relation to Illness and Disability.

Aims

  • To enhance the students’ ability to analyse literary texts in a comparative context.
  • To underscore the significance of Nature in the study of Arabic literature, especially as entwined with gender and sexuality.
  • 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 around the topic of Nature.
  • To enhance the students’ skills in writing academic essays in English on literature, and engaging with scholarly works.
  • To develop 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 works in books and academic journals.
  • To enhance the students’ skills in group work, discussion and presentation of ideas in a literary context.

Teaching and learning methods

Some of the lectures for this unit will be delivered online.

Knowledge and understanding

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

  • Demonstrate understanding and analysis of selected texts of Arabic literature by prominent authors, as well as engage with scholarly works on the set themes.
  • Develop a conceptual framework for the understanding of major themes and ideas reflected in modern Arabic literature, particularly 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 critical tools of analysis to selected literary texts.
  • Writing advanced 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.
  • Understand and reflect on political and historical arguments, cultural debates, and literary motifs and symbols as essential elements in modern Arabic literature.
  • Actively participate in group discussions and presentations, and the ability to work as part of a team or a group of students.
  • Use library resources such as JSTOR and other databases and electronic journals.
  • Apply time management skills to their studies.
  • Effective verbal and written communication and presentation of ideas.
  • 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 group 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 about literary and cultural topics; 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 a group 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

Essay 1 - 50%

Essay 2 - 25%

Essay 3 - 25%

 

Feedback methods

Feedback method

 

Written feedback on essay within 14 working days of submission

 

Additional one-to-one online feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)

 

Feedback on Formative assessment (weekly short reflections on texts; presentation; and essay plan/outline)

 

Final revision session and advice on the preparation for the final assessment task.

 

 

Recommended reading

  • Aljohani, L. Days of Ignorance. Nancy Roberts (trans.) (London: Bloomsbury, 2014).
  • Badawi, M. M. (ed.) Modern Arabic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
  • Barghouti, M. I Saw Ramallah. Ahdaf Soueif (trans.) (London: Bloomsbury, 2004)
  • El Saadawi, N. Memoirs of a Woman Doctor. Catherine Cobham (Trans.) (City Lights Books, 1989).
  • Jayyusi, S. K. (ed.) Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology (NY: Columbia University Press, 1987).
  • Munif, A. Cities of Salt (part 1). P. Theroux (Trans.) (Vintage Books, 1988).
  • Neuwirth, A. et al. (eds.) Arabic Literature: Postmodern Perspectives (London: Saqi, 2010).
  • On Entering the Sea: The Erotic and other Poetry of Nizar Qabbani (NY: Interlink Books, 1996).

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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