Social and Political Dimensions of Modern Arabic Literature (UG)

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Final Year
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

The module presents a broad survey of modern Arabic literature through a range of selected texts from the 18th century right up to the ‘Arab Spring’ and its debated aftermath. The works are studied as literature but with constant reference to the social and political contexts in which they were written, and a constant questioning of the shifting designations of ‘modern,’ ‘Arabic’ and ‘Literature.’ Attention will be paid to the process of socio-political and cultural change and to the effects produced by ideological transition on theme, form and language.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


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

  • LO1 At the end of the module students will be familiar in general terms with the range of themes, techniques and genres to be found in Modern and Contemporary Arabic literature and will have been introduced to the principal critical works on the subject. The objective of the module is to introduce students to the richest and most rewarding areas of Arabic Literature, as well as to current trends in scholarship. These are both related to the processes of change and search for personal and cultural identity on the literary level to the projects of change in the political and social spheres.
  • LO2 The ultimate aim is to sharpen students’ awareness of the significance of literature to the understanding of vital cultural, social and political processes, and especially to the quest for ‘modernity’ and ‘modernization’ in Arab societies—an aim that is critiqued and unpacked throughout the two semesters.
  • LO3 Students are expected to be able to apply a range of critical theories to the literature in question. In class and through essays we will engage with a variety of critical theory that will help students to ask insightful questions of both text, context, and culture. Coursework will help develop the ability to use these skills in writing, presentation, and discussion.




The module is taught over 10 weeks with two hours of seminars each week.


Scope and syllabus


The main themes and periods covered are:

  • Notions of the Modern
  • Questions of text and authority
  • Genre and translation The Neo-Classical revival
  • The Rise of Fiction
  • Rationalism and colonisation
  • Nationalism and the nation state
  • Realism, Social Polarisation, and the Aftermath of 1948
  • Revolution in Literature and Society in the 1950s
  • 1967 and after: Modernism and Post-Modernism
  • Sub-genre fiction: Scifi, detective novels and experimentation
  • Theatre and the absurd Dystopia and categorization

General Areas for Expansion:

  • Constructions of gender and sexuality
  • Notions of self and other
  • Traditions of textuality


Method of assessment


  • 1 x essay 1,500 - 2,000-words (30%)
  • 1 x essay 1,500 - 2,000-word essay (30%)
  • 1 x 15-minute virtual presentation, narrated PowerPoint (40%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page



Dr Marlé Hammond


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules