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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Fall 2006

WGS 340 • Introduction to Arabic Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
49630 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
PAR 301
Ali, S

Course Description

This course is a survey of Arabic literature from the sixth century to the modern period. All texts are in English translation. It will provide students with a foundation to literature in the Arabic language produced by authors who were ethnically Arab, as well as non-Arab (Persian, Turkic, Black, and Greek). Students will encounter sixteen hundred years of poetry, ballads, essays, and stories. We will focus on literature that is both classical and modern, urban and rural, courtly and folk, as well as religious and secular. Topics will include the Andalusian literature of Spain and the Arabian Nights, as well literature before and after those periods. Students will study Arabic literature within the context of social and artistic discourses. Moreover, there will be an emphasis on oral performance: Literature in Arab society was not only read, but memorized for public recitation as part of a tradition of ritual performance and storytelling. In this respect, we will examine Arabic oral performances compared to Homeric epic and Skaldic (Icelandic) poetry. Students will gain an understanding of the literary work from an "ethnopoetic" perspective, not as words on the page, but as "cultural practice" that both reflects and shapes society. No background in Arabo-Islamic culture is required. Graduate students will fulfill requirements appropriate to their standing, including additional readings and writing a term paper.

Grading Policy

20%: Attendance/Participation 20%: 6 Response Papers (1-2 pg) 30%: First Paper (4 pg) 30%: Second Paper (4 pg)


Irwin, R. Night and Horses and The Desert. Sells, M. Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes. Sells, M. Approaching the Qur'an. Franzen, C. Poems of Arab Andalusia. Dawood, N. J. Tales from a Thousand and One Nights. Salih, T. Season of Migration to the North. Kanafani, G. Men in the Sun.


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