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ARAB 401
Arabic Travel Literature and Film Fall 2020
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

Arabic travel literature is a very rich genre that spans different periods and geographies. From al-mu’allaqt al-sab’a (the seven odes) to The Arabian Nights, and from Ibn Battuta to Muhammad Bahi, travel is pivotal to Arab people’s understanding of themselves and the world around them. Even today, one hears phrases, such as “emigrate in order to become healthier,” which point to the fact that travel had been and remains a defining element of Arab-Islamic culture. This course will draw on poems, dictionary entries, short stories, novels, films, and memoirs to expose students to the ways Arab travelers–ancient and contemporary–understood the world through their experience-based or fictionalized travel accounts. Reading travel writings about West Asia, Turkey, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, students will have a complicated understanding not only of the Arabic-speaking world, but also of the forces that shaped travelers’ representations of other people and their cultures. The course will build students’ linguistic autonomy and provide them with the skills they need to work independently and critically on the assigned content.
The Class: Format: seminar; Both in-person and remote students are welcome in the course.
Limit: 19
Expected: 5-7
Class#: 2060
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: presentations, essays, two mid-term papers (3pp.), and final paper (5pp.) in Arabic.
Prerequisites: ARAB 302 or equivalent.
Enrollment Preferences: if the course is overenrolled, preference will be given to Arabic majors.
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
WS Notes: Students will write weekly 300-word responses to questions on Glow. The students will also write a reflection paper on one or several works assigned in the course. Students will write two 3pp. papers for mid-terms and a 5pp. final paper. All papers will be written in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). The instructor will give constant feedback to students to improve their writing in Arabic.
DPE Notes: Students will understand how travel writing is enmeshed in power relations. Students will emerge from the course knowing that travel, exoticism, and representations of the other are not innocent. Students will grapple with issues of misrepresentation and exaggeration of other people's manners, cultural traditions, and gender roles.
Attributes: FMST Core Courses

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