ARAB 405
From Page to Stage: Singers and Songwriters of Modern Arab Music Fall 2022
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

Since its earliest history, Arab music has accorded special status to the singing of poetry. Over the last century, many of the most popular songs across the Arab world were the result of poets, composers, and singers collaborating to turn written words into performable masterpieces. In this course, we will explore a variety of famous Arabic songs, examining how they were written, edited, performed, and, sometimes, censored and banned. Questions that we will ask in this course include: What is the process through which Arabic songs are made? Who is the “author” of the final song? How are song texts transformed when prepared for concert stages and recording studios? And what, in this process, shapes the success and popularity of a song? We will read song lyrics (poems) as literary texts to consider their language and poetic characteristics while also analyzing how songs can be used as a lens to think about politics, identity, religion, class, gender and broader topics related to modern Arab society. Students will become familiar with the lives and works of major singers, such as Umm Kulthum, Fairuz, and Marcel Khalife, and poets, such as Ahmad Shawqi, Nizar Qabbani, and Mahmoud Darwish. Readings and discussion will be in Arabic.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 8
Class#: 1998
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Regular participation in class discussion; weekly listening assignments; biweekly one-page unit responses; final project/paper on a singer or songwriter from the twentieth or twenty-first century.
Prerequisites: ARAB 302 or equivalent.
Enrollment Preferences: If course is overenrolled, preference will be given to Arabic majors.
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
WS Notes: Students will develop their Arabic writing skills by submitting one-page unit responses every two weeks and a final paper of 8-10 pages on a topic of their choice.
DPE Notes: Through the lens of music, this course critically examines topics such as media censorship, power dynamics related to gender, and representations of race and class.

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