MUS 214
Divas and Dervishes: Introduction to Modern Arab Music and Performance Spring 2024
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ARAB 214 / COMP 270
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

From Sufi rituals to revolutionary uprisings, music has long played a central role in the social, political, and religious life of the Arab world. This is especially audible in the modern era, when new technologies and institutions began to record, amplify, and broadcast the region’s sounds, preserving centuries-old traditions while also producing new forms of popular music. This course introduces students to Arab musical genres and practices as they developed from the late nineteenth century. We will cover a broad geographical range, exploring the classical Andalusian repertoires of Algeria, ecstatic dervish chants in Egypt, patriotic pop tunes from Lebanon, and other topics. To highlight connections between musical traditions as well as their unique local features, we will ask questions such as: What can music tell us about interactions between sacred and secular life? How is music used to define social groups and negotiate identity, gender, and class? Which musical characteristics are associated with Arab “heritage” and “modernity,” and how are these performed? In what ways does music shape everyday life in the Arab world? Class sessions and discussion will be based on academic readings and at-home listening assignments. No previous knowledge of Arabic or Arab music are required.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 10
Class#: 3169
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: In-class participation, short essays (1 page) every two weeks, midterm presentation, and a final paper (12-14 pages).
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Arabic Studies and Music majors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARAB 214 Division I MUS 214 Division I COMP 270 Division I
WS Notes: Students will develop their writing skills by submitting one-page unit responses every two weeks and a final paper of 12-14 pages on a topic of their choice. Students will receive feedback on each writing assignment and have opportunities for multiple drafts and peer review during the semester.
DPE Notes: Through the lens of music, this course critically examines modern Arab society and power dynamics related to politics, gender, race, and class.

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