SOAS University of London

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

Introduction to Arabic Literature B: The Classics

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2022/2023
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

This is a language-use course that introduces students to the varied and distinct genres of of classical Arabic poetry and prose. The selection of texts is informed by five major aims: to familiarize students with the main themes and styles of Arabic classics; 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 classical Arabic writing in the dialogue between East and East; and to articulate orally and in writing the major critical issues relevant to modern Arabic literature.


Must be taken alongside Arabic 1 or equivalent.


1h lecture and 1h seminar for a total of 20 weeks.

Scope and syllabus

Primary texts may vary from year to year, but a typical syllabus will consist classical poems and stories.

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 the Biblical, Chinese, Greek, Indian and Persian presence.
4. Arabic literary and critical responses to global aesthetics, ethics and politics.
5. Birth and transformations of Arabic literary genres.
6. Cultural politics in classical Arabic literature.
7. Ethnicity, class and gender and the development of Arabic literature.

Method of assessment

Assignment 1 (25% of overall mark): a book report of 1000 words due in Term 2 .

Assignment 2 (50% of overall mark): an essay of 2500 words due in Term 2.

Oral presentation (25% of overall mark): a 15-minute narrated PowerPoint presentation.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules