AFRS 109 - Beyond the Veil and Islamic Terrorism: Modern Arabic Literature
Semester Offered: Fall
This course introduces students to modern and contemporary literature emanating from North Africa and the Middle East. The authors we read write in Arabic, French, and English. However, all the course readings are in English Translation.
The themes we examine range from the seemingly unresolved tension between tradition and modernity in postcolonial MENA (Middle East and North Africa) societies to the role orientalism and islamophobia play in obstructing productive and much-needed East-West dialogues in today’s—some would call it—neocolonial and globalized world. We also zero in on the interplay between gender, religion, and politics in the MENA region as we discuss the condition of women and sexual minorities caught between the seemingly irreconcilable discourses of Islamic law and international human rights legal frameworks. In the last part of the course, we read two recent first-person narratives. The first depicts the ongoing crisis of illegal immigration from Africa and the MENA region into “Fortress Europe” and attending human cost. The second narrative is an intimate portrayal of the sectarian strife and human rights abuses promulgated in the prisons of the dictatorial regime in Syria.
Students taking this course gain an understanding of some of the salient social, political, and broadly cultural complexities of MENA societies. They also begin to appreciate the complex historical and geopolitical roots of widespread yet, sometimes, little examined propositions, like the incompatibility of Islam and Western modernity and democratic rule, and the need to liberate Muslim women from their cultures.
The course is open to first-year students only; and it satisfies the college requirement for the Freshman Writing Seminar. As such, it is a writing- intensive course! Therefore, as we explore the themes and issues noted above orally in our class discussions, you also hone your skills in finding, using, and citing evidence; building persuasive arguments; using language effectively; organizing sentences and paragraphs clearly; and developing your own prose style. Writing workshops are an integral part of the course, and you work on commenting on and revising both your own and other people’s drafts. Mootacem Mhiri.
Open only to first-year students; satisfies college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.
Two 75-minute periods.
Course Format: CLS
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