SOAS University of London

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

Introduction to Arabic Literature A: Modern Trends

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1

This is a language-use module that introduces students to the development and trends of modern Arabic literature. The selection of texts is informed by five major aims: to familiarize students with the main themes and styles of modern Arabic writing; to acquaint them with the major authors and works in divergent regions of Arab Middle East; to develop their cultural literarcy, and linguistic and critical skills; to situate the aesthetics, ethics and politics of modern Arabic literature in the dialogue between East and West; and to articulate orally and in writing the major critical issues relevant to modern Arabic literature.


The module is taught over 10 weeks, 2 hurs per week consisting of one lecture and one seminar

Scope and syllabus

Primary texts may vary from year to year, but a typical syllabus will consist modern poems, narratives, essays, short and long stories, and dramatic texts.

Apart from introducing students to basic literary concepts and practices and to essential critical and analytical tools, the course readings and discussions will be guided by the following major themes:

  1. The Poet, his role in society, and the development of Arabic poetry.
  2. The global context of modern Arabic literature, such as colonialism, Orientalism and European footprints in modern Arabic literature.
  3. Arabic literary and critical responses to global aesthetics, ethics and politics.
  4. Birth and transformations of Arabic literary genres.
  5. Politics in modern Arabic literature.
  6. Ethnicity, class and gender and the development of Arabic literature.

Method of assessment

  • 1 x Book report (1,000 words) to be submitted in term 1, week 5, day 5 (25%)
  • 1 x Essay (2,500 words) to be submitted in term 1, week 11, day 5 (50%)
  • 1 x (15 min) narrated power point (25%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules