Literatures of the Near and Middle East
- Module Code:
- Taught in:
- Full Year
This is a team-taught module that introduces the different literary traditions of the Near and Middle East and provides an overview of what constitutes "literature" in the region's various pre-modern civilizations. Study is made of selected central topics of the literary traditions of the area from the ancient to the modern period. Through readings of texts in translation students are also introduced to different topics of literary-critical analysis. The content of the module varies slightly from year to year, depending on the specialisms of the available staff.
Objectives and learning outcomes of the module
The objective of this module is to allow students to appreciate and evaluate critically what constitutes “literature” in various civilizations of the Near and Middle East. Students are expected to obtain a clear understanding of the region, its diverse history and literatures, to acquire a good sense of the areas of expertise of the teachers, and to achieve an understanding of the scholarship, methodology and research issues that characterize the various fields of study. The overarching aim is not simply to end with an overview of the literatures of the NME. It is also to acquire a keen sense of the scholarly (areas of investigation and range of subjects) and academic (formation of fields and disciplines and relevant investigative methods) aspects of studying Middle Eastern literature. Through the close examination of selected topics and texts students develop an understanding of a variety of literary traditions within the Near East together with awareness that several of these traditions are frequently very closely connected to each other. This enables them to place their own studies in their different disciplines into the proper general context. It is expected that the module will encourage the student to pursue further studies in the fields/areas of their choice.
The module is taught two hours per week. Weekly lectures and reading classes are given by the respective specialists of the subjects covered.
Scope and syllabus
Where possible the programme follows a chronological progression. The first part deals with the ancient period and the second with the medieval. For every separate field (Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, etc.) the lectures focus on major and important works and their literary background and/or on trends and pertinent themes of the period. Representative selected works are studied in translation. A vital component of the module will be the illustration of the close relation of these literatures throughout the centuries. Attention is also given to possible continuities or discontinuities in the long history of Near Eastern literature.
Method of assessment
The module is assessed by coursework only. The coursework consists of five essays, in total 10,000 words. Essay 1 (1500 words, 15% of the total mark) is due on the first Friday after Reading Week, Term 1. Essay 2 (2000 words, 20%) is due on the last day of Term 1. Essay 3 (2000 words, 20%) is due on the first Friday after Reading Week, Term 2. Essay 4 (2000 words, 20%) is due on the last day of Term 2. Essay 5 (2500 words, 25%) is due on the first Friday of Term 3.
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