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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Introduction to Arabic Culture

Course Code:
155901205
Unit value:
1
Taught in:
Full Year

This is an introductory course in Arabic culture. On completion, students will have gained basic knowledge of: 

  1. theories and methods of studying culture, 
  2. the history and development of Arabic culture from the classical period to the present, and 
  3. the major cultural institutions of the Arabic-speaking world.

Prerequisites

None.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

This is an introductory course to Arabic culture. On completion of this course, students will have gained basic knowledge of (1) theories and methods of studying culture and (2) history of development of Arabic culture from the classical period until the present as well as the major cultural institutions in the Arabic-speaking world.

Workload

The course is taught by a team of teachers. There are two lectures weekly.

Scope and syllabus

The course has three main components: 

  1. the definition of Arabic culture in the context of the complex history of the development of the Arabic-speaking world,
  2. an introduction to the theories of cultural studies, 
  3. a study of the major forces that effect changes in Arabic culture. 

The course includes:

  • coverage of religious and ethnic diversity, 
  • the impact of the West, 
  • stereotyping, 
  • the role of tradition, 
  • education (traditional and modern), 
  • family structure and value, 
  • gender politics, 
  • media, 
  • life in city,
  • town and village, 
  • labour and labour migration, 
  • the Palestinian refugee problem and Arab communities in exile, 
  • culinary cultures and tourism.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination in May-June (70%); one essay of 2,000 - 2,500 words to be submitted on day 1, term 2 (15%); one essay of 2,000 - 2,500 words to be submitted on day 1, term 3 (15%).

Suggested reading

  • Simon During (ed.), The Cultural Studies Reader, 1993 
  • Stuart Hall and Paul Du Gay, Questions of Cultural Identity, 1996 
  • Albert Hourani, A History of Arab Peoples, 1991 
  • Elizabeth Fernea, Women and the Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change, 1985 
  • Fatima Mernissi, Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society, 1987 
  • William A Rugh, The Arab Press, 1979
  • Halim Barakat, The Arab World: Society, Culture and State, 1993 
  • Sami Zubaida and Richard Tapper (eds.), Culinary Cultures of the Middle East, 1994