SOAS University of London

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

Mediaeval literatures of the Near and Middle East - 155901394

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/21
15 credits
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2


None - This module CANNOT be taken with the module Literatures of the Near and Middle East.  It is available as a half module open option for students on other SOAS degrees at Year 1 level.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of a module, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • Understanding of themes and topics of a range of mediaeval literatures of the NME in translation
  • Ability in identifying and comparing different approaches to the mediaeval literatures of the NME
  • Competence in assessing critically the materials and themes explored in the module


The objective of this module is to allow students to appreciate and evaluate critically what constitutes “literature” in various mediaeval 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 by a two-hour lecture in term 2.

Scope and syllabus

The module is team-taught and its syllabus will adapt from year to year according to the availability of staff. Typically the topics studied will be selected from:

  • Qasida poetry
  • Qur‘an as literature
  • Arabic popular literature
  • 101 nights
  • Persian poetry (Rumi, Hafez)
  • Persian prose (Sa‘adi)
  • Turkish folk epic (Dede Korkut)
  • Medieval Hebrew literature


The module is a suitable introduction to literature in translation and topics of literary-critical analysis in preparation for more intensive engagement in the original language later in NME degrees including the study of Persian, Turkish, Hebrew and Arabic literature.

Method of assessment

An essay of 2500 words due on Friday after reading week, term 2 (50%); an essay of 2500 words due on Friday week 1, term 3 (50%).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules