Diversity / Global Studies


NELC - Arabic - Hebrew - Persian - Turkish


2220 Introduction to South Asian Studies

A multi-disciplinary introduction to South Asia's geographical, political, cultural, and religious contexts and connections. [GE culture and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

2244 Films of the Middle East

Overview of contemporary films from different Middle Eastern countries; how filmmakers of the region view, present, and construct their countries using particular modes of representation. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

In this course, contemporary films of different Middle Eastern countries will be approached from several perspectives. The course will present films of several countries in the region to give an introductory account of the specific cultures of their production. The emphasis will be on how various national cultures have built popular cultural products that may be representative of their specific cultural locations. In this respect, the course will bring about national, social, cultural, and historical issues and problems pertaining to the region. Film as a form of popular art will be considered as useful for understanding the production of narratives about Middle Eastern lives. Both a narrative and a visual medium, film will be presented as a way of seeing and representing the realities and fictions of these societies. Students will be asked to relate, compare and contrast these films as examples of national projects and cultural products. This introduction to different cinematic experiences in a particular region will consider how the representation and narration of reality in filmic texts are related to its contexts. This course will equip students with a basic knowledge of contemporary Middle Eastern culture. It will give students a chance to understand foreign cultures by presenting examples of how these cultures envision themselves in their films. Film, as a social practice and as a medium for national imagination and representation, will provide students a comparative and critical perspective with which to reconsider their own understanding of film.

3204 The Middle East in the Media

Examination of contemporary Middle Eastern cultures through critical evaluation of the media which inform our understanding of international politics. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

With deep historical roots, intricate ties with Europe, Asia, and Africa, and a dynamic contemporary environment, the cultures of the Middle East are suffused with numerous political issues. Not only does the complexity of these issues often make the cultures of the Middle East difficult to understand, reporting on these issues often tends itself to subtle journalistic bias. By focusing on several ongoing situations of modern Middle Eastern history, this course offers student insights into contemporary Middle Eastern cultures while fostering the ability to critically evaluate the media which inform our understanding of international politics.

3205 Women in the Muslim Middle East

Examination of the position of women in the contemporary Middle East; impact of regional environment on gender identity; gender bias studies in various Middle Eastern countries. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

This course enhances an existing series of NELC courses which focus on the peoples and cultures of the Middle East region, providing an overview of the position of Muslim women of the the contemporary Middle East. Emphasis will be put on similarities and differences between Western feminist theory and current Middle Eastern regional theories and experiences. These objectives will be accomplished through studying some of the important socio-historical, cultural, and economic trends that shape the present condition. The positions of Middle Eastern women are not expressions of traditional or religious sentiments in any essentialist way. Rather they are patterns in which large social and historical issues, including religious issues and processes, are expressed. Therefore, after introductory reading of the major theories and interpretive models of gender based inequality, the concept of women of the Middle East will be placed in its own socio-historical and cross-cultural framework. While some have treated the Middle East as though it formed a single culture area, others have emphasized its diversity, seeing it as a border in which many different cultures have historically come into contact and, at times, conflict. Thus, one of the course's central questions will concern the nature and extent of the "unity" of the Middle East as constructed by scholars. Through a series of readings and discussions, students will be able to explore the realities and representations of the women in the region.

3501 Introduction to Islam

Examination of Islam as a world religion, enabling an understanding of its major tenets and beliefs as they are envisioned by insiders and outsiders. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

This course intends to provide an introductory survey of some of the central premises of Islamic beliefs and practices. It aims to delineate not only the development of Islam as a religion and as a system of belief, but also its growth into a multi-faceted and rich culture and civilization that contributed significantly to the currents of world civilization. This would entail a look at the growth of the major intellectual and spiritual traditions within the Islamic civilization as well as the relation of these to the milieu of their production. The course is broad in scope and introductory in level.

3700 Mythology of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

An introductory comparative survey of the mythology of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

This course is designed to provide students with a comparative overview of the mythologies of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Its focus is the stories that were recounted as successful integrators of perceived reality in the context of these two major ancient cultures. As such, it will identify and explain basic theoretical issues involved in the analysis of myth; examine the central narratives that have been preserved from those cultures; and investigate the varied perspectives that characterize the world-views and life-concerns expressed in these texts. By reading representative selections of both primary and secondary sources, students will be exposed to both the ancient texts themselves as well as relevant contemporary scholarship.

3702 Literatures and Cultures of the Islamic World

A survey of the Islamic world by way of literature and culture. [GE lit and Global Studies course.]

This course is a selective survey of Islamic culture and literature--literature of pre-modern times. Films occasionally shown in class complement lectures and readings. Religion is one element of culture, and we will concentrate on the religious element in those societies whose populations have been primarily Muslim. Religion is at once a world-view, a collection of abstract principles, and a heritage of concrete, lived experiences--all of which have histories. Understandings and practices of Islam have differed from era to era and place to place, so that while codified principles have a degree of universal validity among Muslims, Islam has been practiced differently in diverse regions at different times. We will concentrate on the roots of Islamic doctrine and belief and on Sufism, Islamic mysticism, which played a central role in the development of literature. In lectures we will also consider the political history of Muslim states, European relations with the Muslim world and Orientalist views of Islam, as well as Muslim responses to European domination of the regions where Muslims have lived.

3704 The Novel in the Middle East

The emergence of the novel in the Middle East and development of its major themes and forms. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

The novel emerged in part as a self-conscious response to the challenges of modernity in the Middle East. In some cases it played a significant role in a program of cultural revolution. The conflict between east and west, old and new, city and countryside; the experiences of European colonialism, resistance and diaspora, industrialization, urbanization, nationalism and national independence have been common themes. Questions of language and style have often been addressed in terms of traditionalism and modernity, localism and universalism, orientalism and occidentalism. The role of women in society has been contested everywhere in modern times and is a primary concern of the novel in the Middle East as well. We will examine how selected authors have employed novelistic forms in dealing with these concerns.

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2241 Culture of the Contemporary Arab World [also available for Honors as 2241H]

A general survey and examination of the socio-cultural structure of the modern Arab world. [GE culture and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

The course consists of an analytical study of the cultural traits and patterns of contemporary Arab society based on scholarly research, recent field work, and personal experiences and observations in the Arab world. It examines the development of its language and dialects, beliefs, customs, and traditions within the framework of: a dynamically changing society; major ecological structures; the family and its value system; representative social, political and religious institutions; reform and challenges of modernization; trends in literature (with emphasis on the emotional and psychological dimensions of cultural traits and change), education, communications media, arts, and music. The course provides a rich and meaningful educational experience for the expansion of analytic skills, cultivation of aesthetic judgment, and development of insights into another culture, as well as a cultural context for the study of modern colloquial and/or Modern Standard Arabic.

2701 Classical and Medieval Arabic Literature in Translation

Reading and analysis of major works of Arabic literature from the 6th to the 17th centuries including classical poetry, the Qur'an, and the Arabian Nights. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

This course introduces students, through a series of texts in English translation, to important works representative of pre-modern Arabic literature -- the longest continuous literary tradition in the Western world. These works (including pre- and early Islamic poetry, the Qur'an, cAbbasid court and urban literature, Hispano-Arabic poetry and the Arabian Nights) are set in their cultural and historical context through reading assignments and classroom lectures, and they are discussed in some depth with full student participation. Students not only become acquainted with a number of masterpieces of a major and highly influential world literature, while considerably expanding their cultural horizons, but also encounter basic approaches of dealing with translations of those texts. Serious attention will be devoted to the nature of literary evidence and its utilization in support of aesthetic and critical judgments.

2702 Modern Arabic Literature in Translation [also available for Honors as 2702H]

Reading and analysis of representative works of the 19th and 20th centuries by contemporary Arab women authors. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

This course provides an informative and perceptive account of the literary developments in the Arab world from the beginnings of the literary Renaissance to the rise and development of the major genres of poetry and prose of the 19th and 20th centuries. Poetic selections, short stories, novels, and plays of wide-ranging orientation (romantic, mystical, socio-political, religious, and philosophical) are read and discussed. The course will focus on a number of important modern Arab writers, with particular attention to women writers. Students also develop insights into the nature of literary evidence and its utilization in support of aesthetic and critical judgments.

3301 Contemporary Folklore in the Arab World

Study of comparative folklore in the Arab world, including verbal art, material culture, visual self- presentation, and performance. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

This course will introduce students to a wealth of Arabic folklore, including the lore of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Arabs as well as Berbers, Kurds and other Arab world communities. For the purposes of this course folklore will be defined as traditional expressive culture—verbal art (e.g., myths, legends, folktales, riddles, jokes), material culture (e.g. the construction of local shrines, homes, boats as well as production of pottery, jewelry, embroidery, carpets), visual presentation of self (e.g., applications of henna, tattoos, dress, hairstyles), folk religion, rituals, festivals, and folk music (e.g., lullabies). Emphasis will be not on finished products but on cultural process. Students will look at what Arab world "folk" from different regions, religions and language and ethnic traditions have in common in regard to ethos, world view, practical and aesthetic needs and how they differ. By the end of the quarter it is to be hoped that students will have an enhanced respect for the power of traditional expressive culture, as a medium for understanding the affective dimension of any culture or community, and that of the Arab world in particular. Students will be given the theoretical tools to begin to be able to study other folklore forms and folk communities in which they are interested.

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2210 The Jewish Mystical Tradition [also available for Honors as 2210H]

The history of Jewish mysticism from antiquity to the present, with emphasis on its implications for the comparative study of religious experience. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

Jewish mysticism has been a constant yet controversial undercurrent in Jewish history, ranging from antiquity to the present day. Its adherents have pursued striking visions of God enthroned on a huge chariot; sought to penetrate the mysteries of the divine personality, perceiving both male and female in the One God; followed a manic-depressive false messiah; worshipped God through joyful song and dance; and imbued classical Judaism with meaning and life its originators could never have imagined. The Jewish Mystical Tradition is a look into this way of interpreting Judaism and how it has affected Jewish history. Jewish mystical texts also provide a rare look into the personal religious experience of individual Jews. Using William James's classic Varieties of Religious Experience as a guide, students will probe the human dimensions of these forms of religious statement. Students will also learn how to read a mystical text, and to interpret the rich symbolism of the Kabbalah and other systems of Jewish mystical religion. This is also a course in the comparative study of religion and culture. In exploring Jewish mysticism, students will address questions central to the cross-cultural study of religion: Are all mystical experiences essentially the same? How can we tell the rational from the irrational? Can we reconstruct a person's individual experience from a written text? Is spirituality a force for stability or anarchy in society?

2216 The Medieval Jewish Experience

A survey of ten centuries of medieval Jewish culture from the rise of Islam to the death of Shabbetai Zvi, the false Messiah (1676). [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

Scattered through the lands of Christendom and Islam, medieval Jewish communities flourished from Spain to Persia, from England to the Yemen. Despite periodic persecutions, medieval Jewry proved to be enormously resilient and creative. Figures such as Saadya Gaon, Moses Maimonides, and Judah Loew of Prague provided their communities with dynamic leadership in troubled times, while bequeathing an impressive literary legacy to posterity. The rich and varied body of Hebrew classics composed during this period includes the commentaries of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Nahmanides, the poetry of Ibn Gabirol and Halevi, the Codes of Jacob B. Asher and Joseph Karo, and that treasury of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar. This course surveys ten centuries of medieval Jewish culture from the rise of Islam to the death of Shabbetai Zvi, the false Messiah (1676). Focusing on key figures and representative subjects, the lectures will seek to offer a balanced picture of the Jewish experience in both the Christian and Islamic worlds. A generous selection of primary sources (in translation) will introduce students to the social, intellectual, and spiritual worlds of medieval Jewry.

2241 Culture of Contemporary Israel [also available for Honors as 2241H]

An introduction to the culture of modern Israel: historical roots, socio-political institutions and developments, and literary and artistic creations reflecting the realities of contemporary Israeli society. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with contemporary Israeli culture in all of its diversity. In the fifty years since the founding of the State, Israeli society has faced a series of dramatic challenges and has undergone tremendous changes. This course will survey the major social, cultural, religious and political trends in Israel, focusing on the post-1967 period. Issues to be explored include responses to founding ideals and ideologies; the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict; Jewish perceptions of Arabs; efforts to absorb new waves of immigration and to deal with questions of ethnicity; tensions between the religious and secular sectors of society; the centrality of the family; and the social, political and religious status of women. The course will draw on a broad range of material, including print media and films. By the end of the course, students should have an insight into the complexity of Israeli society and an understanding of Israel's role in Jewish life, the Middle East, and the world at large.

2700 Biblical and Post-Biblical Hebrew Literature in Translation [also available for Honors as 2700H]

Reading and analysis of selected chapters from the Hebrew scriptures and post-biblical Hebrew writings representative of major historical, cultural, and literary trends. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with some fundamental insights into the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) within the context of their social, cultural, and historical milieux, as well as their common Near Eastern setting. One of the main objectives is to explore the searching spirit of ancient man for ultimate issues, such as the purpose of existence, the destiny of man, the problem of evil, etc. While this course stresses that the Hebrew Scriptures cannot be understood and still less appreciated without their larger cultural setting, it also strives to point out the distinctive features of these scriptures. Insights from post-biblical Hebrew exegeses (Talmud, Midrash, etc.) are provided. In addition to the traditional approach, contributions from a great many academic disciplines are utilized to provide diverse scholarly and objective views of the Holy Scriptures. This course is taught in English.

2702 Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation [also available for Honors as 2702H]

A survey of major themes and topics in Modern Hebrew literature from the middle of the 19th century to the present. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the richly variegated body of modern Hebrew literature, while challenging them to read and write analytically. The major elements in this literature, from its origins in nineteenth-century Eastern Europe to its flowering in present-day Israel, will be examined. Addressing questions of aesthetics and literary context, the course will highlight such major themes as the tension between tradition and modernity; the rise of Zionism; the negation of the Diaspora; the pioneer experience; the Arab-Israeli conflict; responses to the Holocaust; the relationship of the individual to the collectivity; optimism and disillusionment. Readings will consist of novels, short stories and poems in English translation. Literary critical evaluations will be assigned in connection with oral presentations and term papers.

2703 Prophecy in the Bible and Post-Biblical Literature

The dynamics of Israelite prophecy and apocalyptic in the context of ancient Near Eastern culture. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

By the end of this course, the student will be able to: 1) articulate the essential features of Israelite prophecy as a distinctive social phenomenon in the context of ancient Near Eastern culture; 2) trace the evolution of the phenomenon in Israel from its rise to its decline and ultimate transformation into apocalyptic; 3) identify the nuances and idiosyncrasies of certain individual prophets; and 4) identify the primary contributions of the prophetic phenomenon to the Judaeo-Christian heritage. To achieve these objectives, class lecture coupled with class discussion will form the core of this course, supplemented by outside readings and written assignments. The readings will include primary and secondary sources, providing the student opportunity for exposure to the prophetic literature at first hand while also supplying input from contemporary scholarship.

2704 Women in the Bible and Beyond

An examination of the social, legal, and religious position of women as they appear in the Hebrew Bible and the ways in which the have been represented and interpreted in later textual, visual, and audio sources. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

This course examines the cultural images and legal status of women during biblical times and late antiquity. Although its focus will be on the period of ancient Israel, students will also examine how biblical narrative and law have continued to have an impact on Jewish, Christian and secular culture. By looking at the images of women in biblical texts, students will be asked how contemporary feminist readers of the Bible have found new meanings in a literature that has been the subject of so much re-reading and re-writing over the centuries. The course will begin with a general review of biblical literature and a historical survey of the status of women in some ancient societies. Throughout, its approach will be interdisciplinary, inviting students to pursue interests in historical, literary critical, feminist, and religious studies approaches.

2708 Biblical and Post-Biblical Wisdom Literature

An examination of the various ideas, themes, attitudes, implications, and genres of biblical and post-biblical wisdom literature. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

This course will explore a number of the biblical sapiential texts and compositions, mainly in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Psalms, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha. The wisdom literary corpus can be divided into two separate yet overlapping categories. One category, exemplified in the Book of Proverbs, constitutes a comprehensive code of conduct, which aims at directing society on the path to success, happiness, and reasonable harmony with its environment. The other category, exemplified by the Books of Ecclesiastes and Job, grapples with the eternal problems that beset humanity, primarily the agonizing question, "Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer?" The course will stress the indivisible unity of the secular, religious, and ethical aspects of biblical wisdom. It will also explore the universal aspects of wisdom and its search for a certain regularity within the diversity of the phenomena of the world. Proper comprehension of biblical wisdom depends upon an understanding of related texts in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The course will address the striking similarities, in thought and form, between biblical wisdom and the Wisdom of Amenemope, Instructions of Merikare, Ptahhotep, and others. Only by means of such comparison will the distinctive features of Israelite wisdom come to prominence. Insights in Rabbinic wisdom (Pirqei Avot) will also be provided. By the end of this course, students will have achieved a broad exposure to the ideas and genres of Old Testament wisdom literature and the values affirmed therein. Through reading the biblical texts and selected secondary literature and commentaries, students will be able to identify the major themes addressed by wisdom literature and the various attitudes, solutions, and consolations it affords.

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2241 Persian Culture

A survey of Persian culture through the reading of Persian literature in translation, viewing of Persian films, and listening to Persian music. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

This course will expose students to the diversity and richness of Persian culture. Because of the importance of religion in Persian culture, students will study in broad outline the distinguishing features of Shi'a Islam as practiced in Iran and they will be introduced to the main tenets of Persian sufism. The impact on Iran of two outside cultures - that of the Arabs and that of the industrialized West - will also be considered. The course will take into account endemic tensions in Persian culture: for example, between indigenous and outside forces, between absolutism and populism, etc. Much of the instruction will be through the examination of literary works, particularly twentieth century literary works; students will also see Iranian films and receive an introduction to Persian music and the Persian tradition of miniature painting.

2301 Persian Mythology and Folklore

Mythology and folklore of Persian-speaking lands, from cosmological texts through popular theater and narrative performance to popular customs and beliefs. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

Students will become familiar with the concepts and individuals (gods, heroes, demons) of ancient and more recent Persian mythology, as well as with various categories of folklore and folklife in present day Iran. This course will also introduce students to the basic concepts and methods of comparative myth and folklore studies. Although a variety of texts will be read, the emphasis of the course will be on the mythological and folk aspects of the texts, rather than their purely literary qualities.

2701 Persian Literature in Translation

A study of Persian literature in translation and the history of its discourses, genres, and styles. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

This course will expose students to Persian literature in translation from both classical and modern periods in order to make it available to students and comparativists in other languages and disciplines. The aim of the course is for the student to become acquainted with a number of representative works of Persian literature, to identify enduring themes in the literature, and to see the ways in which modern Persian literature has grown from its classical origins.

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2241 Turkish Culture

An introduction to Turkish culture through reading of literature and criticism, and listening and viewing of films, slides, and performances arranged for the class. [GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.]

This is a course exposing students to a diverse and living culture with a great and ancient heritage. Contributions of the local and international Turkish communities, in the form of performances arranged for the class, films, slides, and recordings, will form the in-class experience. Through these means and through assigned readings and discussion, students will comprehend the span and depth of the Turkish contribution to human values, and research one aspect of that culture in some detail according to his or her personal interests. By the end of the course students will have an enlightened understanding of the Turkish role in shaping human history and contemporary events.

2701 Turkish Literature in Translation

A study of Turkish literature and the history of its discourses, genres, and styles. [GE lit and diversity global studies course.]

Students will be introduced to masterpieces of Turkish literature through the reading of texts in translation. They will come out of the course with a basic yet comprehensive knowledge of the history of Turkish discourses, genres, and styles gained through lecture and discussion.

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