ARAB 219 Spring 2013 Arabs in America: A Survey

Cross Listed as COMP219, AMST219
Arabs have been a part of the tapestry of the United States since the early 19th century. As immigrants to the new world, the identity of this community has largely been defined by changing American understandings of race, ethnicity, and religion. The in-betweenness of this minority group--not exactly white or black, claiming Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths--and the often contradictory nature of U.S. involvement in the region, has only further confounded Americans in their understanding of this diverse community. This course will use an interdisciplinary approach to explore the rich histories, representations, and cultural production of this American minority group. For the purposes of this survey, we will also consider the narratives of other Muslim minority groups (i.e., Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, and African American Muslims) within the scope of the Arab American experience. We will look at poems and stories from Arab immigrants in the early to mid 20th century (e.g., the Mahjar poets) and consider, in the context of these writings, issues of xenophobia, assimilation, linguistic, and cultural difference, and Arab American identity in the context of other ethnic groups. Throughout this course we will continue to think about how changing U.S. geo-political interests in the region alter perceptions of Arabs and Muslims in our midst (considering, for example, the 1979 Revolution in Iran and the subsequent hostage crisis, the two Gulf Wars, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, 9/11, Afghanistan, the War on Terror, and Guantanamo). In addition, we will examine representations of this minority and Islam more generally in the media and popular culture (print and broadcast journalism, films, cartoons, popular songs, and videos), as well as Arab cultural forms that seek to self-narrate the Arab experience for an American viewer. At the heart of this course is a desire to not only shed light on what it means to be an Arab or a Muslim or an immigrant, but also to understand the multiple ways in which we conceptualize and seek to define what it means to be American.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation, two shorter papers, occasional responses, a presentation, and a final paper
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Arabic Studies majors, Comparative Literature and Literary Studies majors, and American Studies majors
Department Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ARAB and COMP; meets Divistion 2 requirement if registration is under AMST
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Distribution Notes:
Divisional Attributes: Division I
Other Attributes: ARAB Arabic Studies Electives
Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 15-20
Class Number: 3300
ARAB219-01(S) SEM Arabs in America: A Survey Division 1: Languages and the Arts Mara Naaman
TR 2:35 PM-3:50 PM Weston 031 3300
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