SOAS University of London

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

Modern Palestinian Literature (UG)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Final Year
Taught in:
Term 2

Palestine has a vibrant literary tradition the study of which may serve as a key to understanding the psychological, social and cultural dimensions of the Israel/Palestine conflict. In this module, selections of Palestinian writings in different genres will be read and analysed as exemplars of literary responses to a situation of alienation and displacement, with particular focus on tradition and innovation, the construction and maintenance of identity, coping strategies and the evolving social function of literature in the context of the current conflict. The module also aims to place these writings into the wider historical framework of Near Eastern literature through tracing salient images and themes back to earlier antecedents, including Muslim, Christian and Jewish scripture. The class will be taught in translation, but the original texts will be made available to those who read Arabic

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • LO1 Situate Palestinian literature within the framework of Arabic literature
  • LO2 Demonstrate a high degree of awareness of Palestinian literary history
  • LO3 Engage with critical discourse on Palestinian literature
  • LO4 Analyse structures, themes and imagery in Palestinian literature
  • LO5 Develop and sustain an original line of argumentation


The module will be taught over 10 weeks with two hours each week.

Scope and syllabus

Authors to be studied may include Mahmud Darwish, Samih al-Qasim Emil Habibi, Anton Shammas, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Ghassan Kanafani, Mourid Barghouti, Tamim al-Barghouti, Fadwa Tuqan, Tawfiq Sayigh, Mu'in Basisu, Sahar Khalifeh, Ibrahim Nasrallah, and Edward Said.

Topics covered may include:

  • Resistance literature
  • Imagining of nation without state
  • Homeland and belonging
  • Self-writing and identity
  • Exile, inner exile and diaspora
  • Prison literature
  • Women and the Palestinian nation
  • Myth and mythology

Method of assessment

  • 1 x 1,500-word essay (30%)
  • 1 x 1,500-word essay (30%)
  • 1 x 15-minute virtual presentation, narrated PowerPoint (40%)

Suggested reading

Same as Modern Palestinian Literature PG (15PNMC379)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules