Thursday, January 18, 2018

Welcome to the Arab World - اهلا وسهلا في العالم العربي

Since 9/11 many people have lamented the lack of knowledge students and other people have about the outside world, especially the Middle East, the Arab and Muslim cultures. In ancient times, the present Middle East was the “cradle of civilization” and the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. What is the Arab World today? It is an unknown and misunderstood world in turmoil.
This course will offer an introduction to and an overview of the history, culture, politics and current events of the Arab world in the Middle East and Africa. The students will also be introduced to the Arab-American community and its contribution to culture and politics in the United States. One integral part of the class is a weekly discussion of current events in the Arab World, i.e. the situation in Iraq, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, US policy toward the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the US war on terrorism.
Required Books:

  1. Al Aswany, Alaa. The Yacoubian Building. New York, London, ... Harper. 2002
  2. Margaret K. Nydell. Understanding Arabs. A Guide for Modern Times. Boston: Intercultural Press. 4th Edition 2006
  3. Salih, Tayeb. The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid. On Blackboard under Course Documents
  4. Zepp, Ira. A Muslim Primer. 2nd edition. Fayettevile: University of Arkansas Press, 2000
  5. Films and other readings can be found on Blackboard under Course Documents or are on reserve at the library.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Reflection 1: Why did you choose to take this class?

Your first blog entry is a personal (subjective) reflection about the course and what you know about the Arab World. Please be as honest and direct as you can. I appreciate and respect every opinion, no matter whether I agree with you or not. Here are some questions, I want you to reflect about:

  • Why did you choose to take this class?
  • What are your expectations? What do you hope to get out of this class?
  • Have you ever been to the Arab World? When? What did you do?
  • What were your views about the Arab and Muslim world prior to 9/11?
  • Did the events of September 11 change your views about Arabs and Muslims? How and why?
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Weekly Report 1: "Syria"

You can submit here your weekly summary of one article you have read in one of the newspapers or magazines listed on the syllabus. Keep in mind that you ought to use a different newspaper or magazine each week. Make sure you include the Internet address (URL) of the article you have read.

The topic for this week's weekly report is "Syria." What the heck is going on there? The latest news." Find an article on any non-American newspaper (from the Middle East or Europe) about the latest developments, especially about the peace talks in Switzerland that are goun on right now, and write a summary of that article and post it on your Blog. Make sure to add the URL of the source you have used. I'll ask 2 students (randomly) to report on what they have read.

This weekly report is due on Sunday, February 4 by Midnight.

Weekly Report 2: “Arab and Muslim contributiont Due on Feb. 14

Find an article on-line (preferably from a newspaper from the Arab or Muslim world) about  “Arab and Muslim contributions to world civilization.” Find information on a Muslim or Arab Noble Prize winner or someone who has invented something or had a huge impact on world civilization and write a short report on this person and what her/his contributions. Due on Sunday, February 11, by midnight.

Reflection 2: Guest Lecture by Dr. Deveny Due on February 18

Reflection 2 is about Al-Andalus, the Islamic legacy of Spain and Dr. Deveny’s guest lecture. 
Here are some questions about the lecture by Dr. Deveny and also the readings that are due today. These questions should help you write your reflection and are meant as a guide for the midterm exam. Make sure that you spell Arabic, Spanish and other names and words correctly. You should use the list of terms that Dr. Deveny distributed in class. Just keep in mind that all of this will be part of the midterm. Reflection is due On Thursday, Feb. 18, by midnight.
  • Who ruled Spain prior to 711? What groups did live there?
  • Why should we study about Cordoba?
  • What does make Spain interesting for us?
  • Who and when did the conquest of Spain begin? Name the 2 leaders and discuss their heritage?
  • Why were the Muslim armies so successful in conquering Spain?
  • What is the Arabic name for Andalusia and where did it come from? What does it mean?
  • When, at which battle and by whom were the Muslim armies stopped?
  • Name at least 3 Spanish cities that played an important role during the Muslim rule?
  • Which architectural and historic monuments do you associate with these three cities?
  • What are the characteristics of Arabic-Muslim architecture found in mosques and palaces in Spain?
  • Who were the Mozarabs?
  • How many and what kind of books were the library in Cordoba in the 9th and 10th centuries? Why is this an amazing fact?
  • In what areas did the Arabic language influence the Spanish language and culture? Give concrete examples!
 Due on Thursday, February 15 by midnight.

Weekly Report 3: Musicians of the Arab World. - Due on Feb. 28

Find information about  Musicians of the Arab World." Write a report on any famous musician (dead or alive) from any country in the Arab world.  Due on Sunday, February 25, by midnight.

Reflection 3: Concert or Drumming Session with Massamba Diop. Due on March 3

Reflection 3 is about the drumming session/ lecture by Jon Seligman.  How did you like the drumming session with Jon Seligman?

Elaborate on what you write and try to incorporate what you have read into your reaction.
You may want to incorporate what you have read about "Music of the Middle East" into your reflection. The article is available on Bb under Course Documents. Reflection is
due on Thursday, March 1 by midnight