Language and Oral Literature of an Arabic Vernacular
- Course Code:
- Unit value:
- Year of study:
- Year 4
- Taught in:
- Full Year
Successful completion of the year abroad programme, or equivalent knowledge of Arabic
Objectives and learning outcomes of the course
At the end of a course, a student should be able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of one of the following Arabic colloquial languages and the oral literary tradition attendant to each: (1) Egyptian; or (2) Gulf or Eastern Arabic; or (3) Levantine. S/he will have gained a familiarity with the grammar, syntax and phonetics of one Arabic colloquial language, and basic conversational skills. S/he will have been introduced to the principles of linguistics description, dialectology and literary analysis pertinent to the study of oral poetry and storytelling. S/he will be able to relate the development and themes of a body of oral literary tradition to the history, changes and politics of the region to which it belongs.
A total of 22 weeks teaching with 4 hours classroom contact per week.
Scope and syllabus
The objectives of the course are to introduce students to one (1) of the three (3) main Arabic colloquial languages and the genres, themes and features of one tradition of oral literature, and to acquaint them with the theory and methodology of the study of oral literature.
Term 1 will cover language instruction and general linguistics topics, in particular the dialect geography of the relevant area, the historical origins of the dialect, and its developments in the modern era.
Term 2 will cover oral literature through readings in selected texts (or written versions of oral performances) and close examinations of audio-visual recordings of live performances.
Course readings and discussions for Term 2 are guided by, but not exhaustive of, or exclusive to, the following major themes:
- Diglossia and heteroglossia in the Arabic language and literature
- Orality and Literacy
- Performance and meaning
- Memory and the shape of an oral text
- Audience and authorship
- Punning, playful language, and repetition as artistry
- The role of music
- Participations in the politics of the state
- Folk moral universe
Method of assessment
One three-hour examination taken in May/June (70%). One 2,500 word essay to be submitted day 1, term 3 (20%). One oral examination of approximately 20 minutes duration (10%).
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- Abu-Lughod, Lila, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society. Berkeley, 1986.
- __________. Writing Women’s Worlds: Bedouin Stories. Berkeley, 1993.
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- Cachia, Pierre, Popular Narrative Ballads of Modern Egypt. Oxford, 1989.
- Finnegan, Ruth, Oral Traditions and the Verbal Arts: A Guide to Research Practices. London, 1992.
- __________. Oral Poetry: Its Nature Significance and Social Context. Bloomington, 1992.
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- __________. Northeast Arabian Dialects. London, 1982.
- __________. Poetry and politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society. Reading, 2009.
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- Muhawi, Ibrahim (ed.), Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Folktales. Berkeley, 1989.
- Ong, Walter J., Orality and Literacy. London, 1982.
- Reynolds, Dwight, Heroic Poets, Poetic Heroes: the Ethnography of Performance in an Arabic Oral Epic Tradition. Ithaca, 1995.
- _________. Arab Folklore: A Handbook. Westport, Conn., 2007.
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- Sowayan, S. A., The Arabian Oral Historical Narrative: An Ethnographic and Linguistic Analysis. Wiesbaden, 1992.
- _________. Nabati Poetry. Berkeley, 1985.