Explore the modern and classical literatures of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, in addition to courses on film, folklore, myth and other cultural forms.
(For full schedule of this semester's courses, please visit the Online Schedule of Classes)
013:201: CROSSROADS: CLASSIC LITERATURE OF AMESALL (Spring)
An introductory survey of the "classical" literatures of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, stretching from antiquity to about the beginning of the 19th century. It examines the critical areas of difference and similarity between the literary traditions of the three regions through the study of excerpts of sample "canonical" texts. It begins with an overview of the oral tradition and proceeds to demonstrate its enduring impact on the written word in its various genres across time and space. It also explores new literary formations that have arisen out of the historical interchange between people's of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In the process, students will also be exposed to the different kinds of scripts, both original and improvised, that have been used over the centuries in the written traditions of the societies of these interlocking regions of the world. Learning objectives: by the end of the course students will be able to identify and explain the fundamental differences and similarities between the oral and written pre- 20th century traditions of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia especially in terms of how they are articulated in poetry and imaginative prose. They will also be familiar with the main theoretical issues in the study of literary hybridity and be able to relate them to specific texts studied in the course. Finally, they will be able to demonstrate how discourse analysis enables a researcher to reveal constructions of meaning and power relations not only within the text, but also in conjunction with social issues by applying the method to a specific text provided in class.
013:211: INTRODUCTION TO THE LITERATURES OF AFRICA (Fall)
This is an introductory survey of the literatures of Africa in their various genres and sub-genres. A selection of literary texts from various parts of Africa, both oral and written, will be analyzed in the context of specific historical, cultural, social and political developments, from pre-colonial to post-colonial times. Some emphasis will be placed on translated works and their differences and similarities with non-translated African literature in English. The notion of translation here will be understood broadly to include originals from both the indigenous linguistic pool and Africanized European languages. Using an intercultural approach the course will seek examine a variety of themes, including: African literary aesthetics, the conflict between tradition and modernity, colonialism and nationalism, authenticity and assimilation, as well as issues of cultural identities, power, social class dynamics and gender relations. Students will be exposed to a variety of films, musical clips, video and audio tapes that will reinforce and expand on some of the issues encountered in the assigned texts.
013: 221: INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURES OF THE MIDDLE EAST (Fall)
This is a survey course designed to introduce students to the literatures of the region known as the Middle East, from ancient to modern times. The original languages of the texts we will read in translation are Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Hebrew and the countries covered - in their modern-day form - are Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Israel. The main literary genres we will cover are epic, scripture, romance, belles-lettres, chronicle, essay, the modern novel and short story, the ode and lyric poetry. Documentary films will also be shown during class. The course is roughly divided into two broad time frames: from antiquity to the late medieval period, and from the beginning of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st. The texts will be discussed in relation to their respective social and political contexts, and as coherent body of literature that shares a core group of themes and structures across languages and countries. Some of the main themes that we will cover include the social role of the poet/author, sacred and profane identity, and colonialism and the challenges of modernity.
013: 231: INTRODUCTION TO THE LITERATURES OF SOUTH ASIA (Fall)
South Asia as a region includes the Republic of India; the two modern nations that were formerly part of the Indian sub-continent: Pakistan and Bangladesh; Nepal: and Sri Lanka. A single course could never hope to cover the literatures of all of these nations, and this course will concentrate only on the literatures of India up to 1947, the year in which the modern nations of India and Pakistan were formed, with some attention to the question of Hindu-Muslim literary and cultural relations after 1947. During the period covered by the course, "India" occupied different territory and was defined culturally in different ways. We will discuss some of these changes in the definition of India, beginning from the period of the epics through the period of the blossoming of Tamil literature in the South, to the apogee of Sanskrit drama and poetry. Up to this point the major tradition is what later came to be called Hinduism, with some admixture of Buddhism and Jainism. Then comes the efflorescence of devotional (bhakti) poetry, which is already influenced by Islam. Muslim settlements occurred along the Western coast of India already before 711, and a major Muslim invasion of the Punjab occurred from about 1000 C.E. Persian poetry came to India along with Islam, issuing in a tradition of poetry written in Persian that lasted several centuries, Persian poetry eventually blending with Indian traditions to issue in Urdu poetry—a tradition that flourished well into the nineteenth century, culminating in the ghazals of Ghalib, and that is still alive today in parts of India, and in Pakistan. The one twentieth-century literary text, a long short story by the Nobel-Prize-winner Rabindranath Tagore, is an example of one modern literary tradition: Bengali. The fate of Urdu as a literary tradition in India is discussed in the final text of the course, a contemporary film directed by Ismail Merchant.
013:301: TOPICS IN AMESALL
A focused study of a particular topic in African, Middle Eastern and South Asian languages and literatures. Topics vary from semester/year to semester/year.
01:013:301:01: LANGUAGE AND GLOBALIZATION (Spring) TOPICS
This course examines "globalization" and its impact upon the world's languages from a critical perspective. It answers questions like: What is globalization? How has globalization changed the world around us economically, politically, socially, culturally, and above all, linguistically? What are the roles of the world's languages in our today's information- and market-driven world of the 21st century? What have been the positive and negative implications of globalization upon the world's languages? The course is divided into three parts. PART 1 (first 3 weeks) introduces the students to the concept of "globalization," what it means and what dimensions it has. PART 2 (weeks 4-9) introduces the students to the "linguistic" dimension of globalization and the current debates/issues surrounding the global spread of the global language(s) and implications for other world's languages. PART (weeks 10-14) examines the linguistic implications of globalization in various contexts. The geographic focus of the course is as global as its central topic. Yet, special attention will be paid to selected cases in Asia, the European Union, African, Latin America and the US depending to students' research interests.
013:303: LANGUAGE & SOCIETY IN AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA (Fall)
This course explores the social, cultural and political aspects of language in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia in the post-colonial context. It examines the interaction and inter-sectionality f language and variables such as class, ethnicity, gender, and education. It will also look at the range of articulations of politico-linguistic problems and challenges, including language conflict, language rights and language planning, in the three regions. These are topics that have been discussed extensively by scholars from a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and political science, resulting in a rich body of literature that offers different perspectives on the different issues. In this course we will examine the contributions of these disciplines to our understanding of language and its uses in society, drawing on comparative experiences of selected countries of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
013:304: INTRODUCTION TO TRANSLATION STUDIES (Spring)
This course will introduce students to the main themes and issues in contemporary Translation Studies. The course will begin with a brief survey of the role of translation in world history and the various ways in which translation has been theorized in the modern western tradition. Readings and discussion will then turn to current major topics in TS: the role or 'positionality' of the translator/interpreter, the relationship between translation and ideology/power (including the role that translation has played and continues to play in the history of empire, war and global media), the ethics of literary translation and practical interpreting and the impact of technologies like subtitling and machine translation.
013:305: AFRICAN, MIDDLE EASTERN & SOUTH ASIAN LANGUAGES IN PERIL (Contact Department)
Introduction to the value of vocal languages and the threat posed by their disappearance, with a focus upon the endangered languages of Africa and Asia. This course will employ a multidisciplinary approach to address the impending disappearance of the world's linguistic and cultural patrimony, which is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind in the 21st century. The discussion of these general issues will be illustrated with nine case studies of endangered languages and the traditions that they represent: three from the Middle East, three from South Asia, and three from Africa.
013:306: DOCUMENTING THE LANGUAGES OF NEW JERSEY (Contact Department)
Discovery and documentation of the structure of an AMESA language spoken in New Jersey through consultation with native speakers. During the course of elicitation and discussion sessions, students will produce a lasting, multipurpose documentation of a language spoken in New Jersey. According to the latest statistics, roughly 140 languages are spoken in New Jersey, with more than two million residents speaking a language other than English at home. Languages of interest to students of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia that are spoken in NJ include Gujarati, Arabic, Greek, Hindi, Urdu, Hebrew, Kru, Ibo, Yoruba, Bengali, Turkish, Yiddish, Telegu, Tamil, Punjabi, and many, many more. The languages represent and integral part of the intellectual patrimony of mankind - a wide-ranging cross-selection of the world's languages, and the cultural systems that they represent. New jersey provides the field linguist with a unique opportunity to document languages, such as Ladino, Neo- Aramaic, Kalmyk, and Karachay, which may be inaccessible or even extinct in their homelands.
013:311: WOMEN WRITERS OF AFRICA (Spring)
This course is a survey of writings by women from a variety of cultural, linguistic, and regional areas of Africa. Using an intercultural approach, it focuses on the imaginative works of African women, exploring the socio-cultural and political landscapes that have shaped their works, and how their works, in turn, are a reflection of the (pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial) conditions of their production. Special attention is given to the intersection of power, class and gender in the analysis of the texts covered in class, demonstrating how the writings of women often constitute a different voice about Africanity. The texts give testaments to women's quest to re-imagine/reshape the world we share – to reinterpret history, re-read culture, reconfigure the structures that define female and male roles, and reconstruct identities. Some of the African women writers who will be discussed in this course include: Nana Asma'u Bint Shehu Dan Fodio, Zeinab Alkali, Ama Ata Aidoo, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nozipo Mareare, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Leila Aboulela.
013:312: AFRICAN FOLKLORE AND MYTH (Spring)
This course is a survey of Africa's rich folkloric heritage. It explores the lore, recollections, epics, legends, myths, traditions, beliefs and tales of the continent of Africa, taking note of the diversity of experiences, their uniqueness in form and content as well as the affinities that are evident among them. The course will seek to reflect, among other things, the differing concepts of cosmogony, human creation and existence, and the social values that have motivated various African peoples in their pursuit of a meaningful life and an understanding of the spiritual and aesthetic attributes of the world around them. Conversely, it will demonstrate how the folkloric forms themselves have been woven out of the substance of human experiences: human struggles for survival, relations among humans, and between humans and animals; responses to the challenges to the unknown and to the universal need to create order and reason out of chaos and confusion. In addition to the required reading texts, the course will include films, slides, audio-tapes and musical materials that will enhance our understanding of the performance dimension of African folklore.
013:314: ISLAM AND AFRICAN LITERATURE (Spring)
For over a millennium, Islam has been an integral part of the life of large sections of African peoples, especially in North, East and West Africa. During the Middle Ages in Africa the religion served to expand the network of relations with the outside world, especially with the Middle East and Asia. In time, Islam came to play an important role in African literature, oral and written, both as a subject and in shaping the course of its development. Yet despite the common understanding of the term, Islam varies considerably from place to place, from one temporal setting to another, reflecting all the diversities of African culture. This course is intended to explore the varied expressions of Islam in literary texts from different parts of Africa, paying particular attention on how the conjuncture of culture and history has diversified the experience of Islam and its literary expression in Africa. In addition, the writers examined in the course differ considerably in their interpretations of Islam, from those espousing particular orthodoxies, to reformers of one shade or another, to critics who sometimes border on cultural apostasy.
013:315: POLITICAL THOUGHT IN AFRICAN LITERATURE (Fall)
The African space is characterized by a constant interplay between politics and poetics. Leading African writers like Wole Soyinka and Ngugi wa Thiong'o have been, at the same time, unrelenting political activists. And some of the most prominent heads of state, from Leopold Senghor of Senegal to Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, have left a brilliant record of literary creativity. It is this intersection between political thought and literary imagination that this course is intended to explore by looking at the works of selected African novelists from the 1950s to the present. The approach to the course will be primarily thematic, and topics for discussion will include colonialism and alienation, negritude and other versions of African consciousness, nationalism and nationhood, leadership and political culture, womanhood and feminism, dependency and the class struggle, violence and liberation, and the quest for a new organic order. Supplementary texts for the course will include political science articles and films. The course will have a semi-seminar format, combining lectures and classroom discussion.
013:316: AFRICAN LITERATURE OF SOUTH ASIAN EXPRESSION (Contact Department)
The South Asian presence in Africa goes back to the early years of European colonial rule on the continent, many having been recruited for indentured service especially in East and South Africa. In the process, they and their descendants became embroiled in the socio-cultural and political experiences of Africa which later they came to give expression through imaginative works. This course will examine some of the key issues, trends and texts in African post-colonial literature in English produced by authors of South Asian origin. Topics will include the nationalist and post-colonial fashioning of individual and collective identities; the intersections of race, gender, class and nation; the role and intervention of women in nationalist discourse; and the problem of memory, historiography, trauma, diaspora and the making of "home." In the final analysis, the course will seek to interrogate the forces that unite African literature of the South Asian Diaspora as its writers negotiate the thorny dilemmas of cultural identity in varied African contexts and societies.
013:320: OTTOMAN MIDDLE EAST: POLITICS, CULTURE, LITERATURE (Spring)
This course offers an introduction to the socio-cultural atmosphere of the Middle East in the late 19th-early 20th century under Ottoman rule, at the brink of the dissolution of the Empire. Our main focus will be on the dissemination of modern/Western-style educational institutions, literacy, and print culture in this broad geography, and its relation to individual and communal aspects of life in the Ottoman territories. Classroom discussions will be accompanied by close readings of Ottoman poems written in classical and modernist styles in this period. Slide shows from an album that Sultan Abdul Hamid II (ruled from 1876 to 1909)commissioned to document the Empire's modernization for Western governments will supplement the discussions.
013:322: MIDDLE EASTERN FOLKLORE AND MYTH (Spring)
The course introduces the students to the study of folklore with specific reference to the folk tales of the Middle East. While the bulk of the folk tales examined will consist of those collected during the course of the 20th century, the course will also present these tales in a diachronic light with reference to the sacred texts of each community and comparable myths, legends, tales and fables from the ancient world. The folklore examined include creation myths, beast fables, proverbs, ghost stories, fairy tales, and Middle Easter reflexes of such well-known tales as the Fraust legend, Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. Grades will be determined by participation (20%), the mid term (20%), a final paper (20%), and the final exam (40%). At the beginning of each class, students will be expected to recant one of the tales covered in the reading for the class, without reference to notes. Students should develop their paper topic in consultation with the instructor.
013:331: MODERN LITERATURES OF SOUTH ASIA (Fall)
This class on South Asian literature seeks to explore texts that grapple with diverse forces of colonialism, tradition and modernity over the course of various historical and social movements of the last one hundred years in India. The readings are a combination of Anglophone texts and texts in English translation from regional languages and all the texts highlight different ways in which the society and literature of India has grappled with the question of national identity. Through this intensive reading of Indian literature in English, the class will encounter the various social processes and the disparate cultural pressures that mold the worldview of Indian writers of the twentieth and the twenty first century. This study will span all the major genres of fiction, drama and poetry and it will range from texts published at the beginning of the 20th century to ones that were published in 2009. The course readings and discussions are in English.
013: 335: CARIBBEAN PLURALITIES AND INDO-CARIBBEAN LITERATURE (Fall)
The Caribbean is stereotyped in the West as the land of sunny beaches and white sands and happy dancing people. The range of ethnicities, languages and cultures that populate this region go unnoticed in this mono-visual of the Caribbean as the ideal getaway for Western tourists. This course will explore one important element of this diversity of the region by focusing on the Indo- in the Caribbean. This literature has emerged as an important part of the Anglophone Caribbean only in the last two decades and it highlights the diversity and also the complexity of the concept of the Caribbean. In this course, we will study some major canonical works of the Anglophone Caribbean and also the lesser known Indo-Caribbean writers who write against the grain. Part of this course will also explore the musical tradition of the region and the variations introduced by the Indo-Caribbeans in the local musical forms. Together, we will examine the diversity that lies at the heart of the Caribbean identity by studying one important ethnic minority within.
013:337: LITERATURE AND CINEMA IN SOUTH ASIA (Spring)
Shakespeare in Bollywood? The idea seems incongruous! And yet, Bombay filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj has reinvented Macbeth and Othello for Bollywood audiences worldwide and to great acclaim. Indian Cinema has drawn on literary texts for its source material since its earliest days. From epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to the modern novel, many of the most celebrated films of South Asia are adaptations of literary works. In this course we will engage with a wide range of South Asian films and the literary works they are based on or "inspired by". The relationship between the literatures and cinemas of South Asia is a complex one, because adaptation is more than a matter of simple fidelity to or deviation from the original source. Adaptation is fundamentally also a task of translation—of the correspondences between the written word and film language. In this course we will interrogate especially the poetics and politics of this translation in South Asia. We will explore a vast array of literary and filmic forms, from "high culture" films like Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali (1955) and Charulata (1960) to popular Bollywood adaptations of Jane Austen such as Bride and Prejudice (2004) and Aisha (2010), in order to understand the range and diversity of adaptation in South Asia.
013:342: MODERN ARABIC LITERATURES (Spring)
This course is designed to introduce students to the major themes that have shaped modern Arabic literature over the second half of the twentieth century. The course will cover fiction, non-fiction prose writings (essays, autobiographies, and cultural criticism) and film from Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. Topics covered are (1) the country and the city as major geographical tropes through which modern cultural identities are imagined and produced, (2) the centrality of the colonial and post-colonial experience in the creative imagination, and (3) the ways in which women have constructed discrete narrative spaces in order to express gendered experiences of embattled domestic and public spaces.
013:343: CLASSICAL ARABIC LITERATURES (Contact Department)
The course provides an introduction to three of the key genres of classical Arabic literature: the risalah, the maqamah and pre-Islamic poetry. All materials will be read in Arabic and discussed in English.
013:354: CONTEMPORARY HEBREW LITERATURE AND MEDIA (Spring)
This course is a continuation of the study of comprehension, conversation and composition with readings in Hebrew drawn from popular Israeli literature complemented with magazine and press articles. The course focuses on the acquisition of academic language proficiency skills through the analysis of the cultural themes as they are reflected in the writings. Note: This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.
013:355: INTRO TO MODERN ISRAELI LITERATURE (Contact Department)
PLEASE NOTE THAT ON THE JEWISH STUDIES WEBSITE IT READS: MODERN HEBREW LITERATURE (NOT ISRAELI)
The objective of this course is to develop a critical approach to literature through text analysis, class discussions and written compositions. Readings include poetry and short stories. Students also examine the structure of language and explore how language is used to convey literary, cultural, and personal meanings. Note: This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.
013:378: MODERN PERSIAN LITERATURES (Contact Department)
A survey of the Persian literatures of the modern period, beginning in the 19th century to the present. All readings will be in English translation. Students will be familiar with representative examples of modern Persian poetry and prose in English translation. They will gain a deep understanding of the modern period in Persian literature from its beginnings in the second half of the 19th century to the present day. They will also appreciate how reading the literature in English differs from reading it the original language. An introductory survey of the classical Persian literatures in its canonical genres. The course will be based only material translated into English. Students will become familiar with the basic features of six major modes of expression in classical Persian literature: the panegyric (praise poetry), the epic, the lyric, the mystical, the defamatory (insult poetry), and the satirical. To enable participants to read in English translation representative examples of the five modes with an enhanced appreciation of the literature. To retrieve in part what gets lost when Classical Persian literature is translated into English and to analyze the reasons for the loss.
013:379: CLASSICAL PERSIAN LITERATURES (Contact Department)
An introductory survey of the classical Persian literatures in their canonical genres. The course will be based only material translated into English. Students will become familiar with the basic features of six major modes of expression in classical Persian literature: the panegyric (praise poetry), the epic, the lyric, the mystical, the defamatory (insult poetry), and the satirical. To enable participants to read in English translation representative examples of the five modes with an enhanced appreciation of the literature. To retrieve in part what gets lost when Classical Persian literature is translated into English and to analyze the reasons for the loss.
013:396: INTRO TO YORUBA LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION (Contact Department)
This course is an introductory survey of Yoruba literature in the various genres and sub-genres. We will look into the oral nature of Yoruba traditional literature, the training of oral artistes and their place in the society. A selection of various Yoruba oral and written literary materials will be analyzed in the context of specific historical, cultural, social, religious and political developments, from pre-colonial to post-colonial times. Emphasis will be put on compilation, adaptation and translation at different stages of the development of Yoruba literature. Themes to be examined in the course will include Yoruba view of literature as a means of entertainment and education (aesthetics and message). We shall also examine the conflict and coexistence between tradition, modernity and colonization. The issues related to religion, politics, power, social class and gender shall not be left out.
013:397: INTRO TO YORUBA FOLKLORE (Spring)
This course examines Yoruba folklore and its various genres such as folktale, epic, legend, myth, proverb and oracle. Among other things, we will examine the Yoruba concepts of cosmogony and creation and how it affects their social and religious values. We shall also look into how the folklore motivated them in their pursuit of a meaningful life and influenced their understanding socially and spiritually. Conversely, we will look into how the folkloric forms themselves have been woven out of the substance of human experiences and struggles for survival such as relations among humans, animals and other challenges of life. Lastly, we will see how the Yoruba gave room for change and enlightenment brought about by their interaction with peoples and civilizations from other parts of the universe. In addition to the required reading texts, the course may include films, slides, audio-tapes and musical materials that will enhance understanding of the performance dimension of the Yoruba folklore.
013:401-402: ADVANCED TOPICS IN AMESALL
A seminar-style intensive discussion of a topic in African, Middle Eastern and South Asian languages and literatures. Topics vary from semester/year to semester/year.
013:402:01: WOMEN WRITERS OF SOUTH ASIA (Fall) ADVANCED TOPICS
This course surveys women's writing in South Asia in the colonial and post-colonial periods, focusing on how South Asian women writers explore issues of identity, violence, and belonging in predominantly male literary traditions. The course suggests that poetry, short stories, novels, and autobiographies by South Asian women offer unique insight into new meanings of gender, work, and family that accompanied the Indian Independence Movement and the Partition of India and Pakistan, as well as more recent transformations introduced by globalization. We will be motivated by two interrelated concerns: 1) how can we understand the question of women's voices and "agency" in the South Asian context? And 2) how do women writers mobilize the category of gender to define alternative understandings of "individual" and "community" in this region? In order to answer these questions, we will trace the intersections between gender, caste, class, religion, and sexuality in women's fiction and non-fiction writing, giving particular regard to concepts such as "tradition," "modernity," "nation," and "genre." Some of the authors we will discuss include: Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Sarojini Naidu, Ismat Chughtai, Anita Desai, Mahasweta Devi, and Bama.
013:402:02: GENDER, NATION AND LITERATURE IN SOUTH ASIA (Spring) ADVANCED TOPICS
Literary representations of gender have played a key role in shaping popular understandings of nation and community in South Asia. This course focuses particularly on how these representations have shaped ideas of modern Indian citizenship and belonging in the colonial and post-colonial periods. We will use three main lenses—social reform, the law, and women's movements—to trace the ways in which representations of gender have been formative to constructions of the "individual" and "subjectivity" in the Indian context across diverse intersections of caste, class, and religion. Our literary analyses will be guided by texts in South Asian historiography and social theory and supplemented by several films.
013:403: TRANSLATION PRACTICUM I (Contact Department)
This is a practical course in translation into English. Its primary focus is on how to translate. It is an exposition of different kinds of problems in the process of translation with plenty of practice in developing a rationale for solving them. While theoretical issues are bound to arise throughout the semester, their discussion will be restricted to the practical aim of translation method and translation exercises. The course assumes the student already has a good command of the language (up to the advanced level) and is familiar with the proper use of dictionaries and, where appropriate, databases. Nonetheless, the analytical detail given to a wide range of texts in the course will definitely further the student's competence of the source language.
013:404: TRANSLATION PRACTICUM II (Contact Department)
This is the second part of the translation practicum, a practical course in translation into English. It continues putting primary focus on how to translate, offering an exposition of different kinds of problems in the process of translation with plenty of practice in developing a rationale for solving them. While theoretical issues are bound to arise throughout the semester, their discussion will be restricted to the practical aim of translation method and translation exercises. The course assumes the student already has a good command of the language (up to the advanced level) and is familiar with the proper use of dictionaries and, where appropriate, databases. Nonetheless, the analytical detail given to a wide range of texts in the course will definitely further the student’s competence of the source language.
013:407: BOLLYWOOD (Fall)
India is the second most populous country in the world and has a cultural tradition that has evolved over 5,000 years. It is also the world's largest film-producing nation, releasing over 900 films every year. Of these, approximately 200 films are made in Hindi in India's film capital—Bombay. Driven by the growth and spread of the Indian diaspora in recent decades, the popular Bollywood has become a ubiquitous presence in theaters and film festivals across the globe. While remaining India's most beloved art form, this cinema today is also India's most visible and fascinating export. Bollywood remains an exceptional industry that has successfully resisted the onslaught of Hollywood films in the country of its birth. These and other factors have contributed in making academic exploration of Bombay cinema a relatively new, but extremely exciting field of study. What makes Hindi cinema different? How are such a staggering number of films made in India? How do these 'song and dance' movies challenge our perceptions of narrative forms? How do Bombay films negotiate the polarities of tradition and modernity? How do they bear the burden of postcoloniality? Despite the plethora of languages and cultures that comprise India, how does Hindi cinema maintain its hegemonic position both within the subcontinent and without? What is the status of Bollywood as a national cinema? These are some of the larger questions with which we will engage in this canopic overview.
013:410: SYRIAC (Spring)
This is an accelerated introduction to the grammar of Classical Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic and one of the great literary languages of the Middle East. Originally the dialect of the city of Edessa (know as Urhoy in Syriac and Şanlıurfa in Turkish), Syriac spread throughout Asia from the fourth to the eighth century CE and is today represented by an immense body of literature, as well as the liturgies of several major denominations of Christians from the Middle East and South Asia.
013: 442: READINGS IN MODERN ARABIC LITERATURE (Fall)
This course is intended to be an advanced, fourth year Readings course in Modern Arabic literature. The course will focus on the 20th century essay, short story and theatrical play in historical context, and will be conducted entirely in Arabic. Students will read, present, and discuss weekly selections of approximately 10-20 pages in class. Students will be introduced to the main trends in 20th century literary and cultural history. They will learn the basic vocabulary and methods of modern Arabic literary criticism through short lectures and occasional selected readings of excerpted texts by major literary critics. They will also learn how to construct and deliver a formal presentation in Arabic. Conversational skills will be strengthened through regular class discussion of student presentations and of the assigned texts. The primary materials will also be used to introduce students to complex Arabic grammar, syntax and style. Vocabulary acquisition and writing skills will be emphasized through regular dictionary and thesaurus drills, translation exercises (English to Arabic), short, bi-weekly essays and a final paper in Arabic. The prerequisite for this class is six semesters of Arabic (01:013:340) or the instructor's permission.
013:445 : STORYTELLING IN THE MUSLIM WORLD (Contact Department)
Storytelling is a timeless human activity that is older even than writing and the Islamic world is home to one of the oldest, richest and most culturally diverse storytelling traditions in existence. This course will explore a selection of central texts from this tradition, from medieval times to the present. We will read classic popular narratives that have circulated across the Islamic world and interpret them in relation to enduring questions about power, justice, identity, knowledge and love (both human and divine). We will also explore some of the ways in which the Islamic story has passed into European literature in the modern period. Why are stories so central to the human imagination? Is there something specifically 'Islamic' about narratives from these regions, or are there universal, timeless ways of telling stories? How have traditional, pre-modern forms of storytelling been appropriated and used in the modern era of nation-states and the novel? We will discuss questions of narrative genre – epic, romance, and tale - as a way of thinking about the circulation of literary forms across languages, cultures and national spaces in the past and the present.
013:452: READINGS IN MODERN HEBREW LITERATURE (Fall)
Reading and analysis of modern Hebrew poetry and short prose, with an emphasis on major Israeli authors. Prerequisite: 01:563:372 or 01:013:355 or placement. Credit not given for both this course and 01:563:471.
013:453: THE HEBREW NOVEL (Contact Department)
Israeli society, national Israeli identity, the Zionist dream, the culture of the army, love and relationships are some of the themes that will be explored in the course. Focusing on the Israeli novel, and in relevant cases - its adaptation to the screen, students will acquire understanding Part 2f the complexity of life in Israel and the significance of literature in the representation of this contexture. Note: This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.
013:454: LOVE AND DESIRE IN HEBREW PROSE & POETRY (Contact Department)
This advanced course explores the theme of love in Hebrew prose, poetry and film. Selected texts from the Biblical period to the 20th century are read, paying particular attention to their articulation of relationships, passion, and desire. Films in Hebrew relevant to the texts discussed in class are viewed throughout the semester.
013:455: ISRAELI LITERATURE AND SOCIETY (Contact Department)
Traces the development of modern Israeli literature, from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 to the present day. Of special interest will be the manner in which these stories define the quintessential Israeli hero and contend with the question of Israeli identity. Prerequisite: 01:563:372, 01:013:355, or placement. Course taught in Hebrew. Credit not given for both this course and 01:563:485.
013:478: INTRODUCTION TO THE PERSIAN EPIC (Contact Department)
After taking this course, participants will be familiar with the basic characteristics of the epic in classical Persian. They will learn to distinguish the heroic epic exemplified by Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, from the romantic epics like Gorgani's Vis and Ramin and Nezami's Leyli and Majnun. Participants will also become schooled in the differences between the Persian epic tradition and the Greek heroic epic.