The Concept of Return in Modern Arabic Literature
The yearning to return to the homeland is indicative of the major moves of modernity: immigration, exile, nationalism and colonialism. Together we’ll read novels, essays, and poems of exiles and returnees such as Aimé Césaire, Mourid Barghouti, Ghassan Kanafani, Hisham Matar and more, asking the question whether or not one can go back – in time or in space.
Crossing the lines: Intercultural Exchange between Arabic and Hebrew
This seminar examines literary trespass of geographical, national, and linguistic borders, when a writer adopts a canon, identity, or history that is not their “native” one. We start with linguistic trespass – Jewish writers who write in Arabic and Palestinian writers who write in Hebrew; continue with cultural trespass – when a Jew passes as an Arab and an Arab passes as a Jews; and conclude with historical trespass – when the national trauma is represented by the “Other.” Authors we’ll read include Anton Shammas, Sayed Kashua, Samir Naqash, Almog Behar, Rabai al-Madhoun, and Elias Khoury
hmed Saadawi, Frankenstein fi baghdād
Basma Abd al-Aziz
Utopia or Dystopia: Revolutionary Literature in the Arab Spring
Taught in Spring 2021, in Arabic
Does literature have a role in shaping political revolutions? Or rather, do political revolutions shape literature? This course will examine both questions by looking at the poetry and fiction of the Arab spring that contributed to a revolutionary climate on the one hand, and the ways revolutions prioritize specific genres and thus foster new literary phenomena, on the other hand. Together we will listen to spoken word performances, read novels and poetry, watch documentary movies, and analyze street art from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere the uprisings have shaped a certain aesthetics. We will focus on notions of utopia/euphoria alongside those of dystopia/disillusionment as we learn the role culture has in voicing political demands
Self-Impersonation: Fiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Taught with Prof. Nancy Ruttenburg, in English
Winter 2017, Stanford
This course examines the intersecting genres of fiction, autobiography, and memoir in texts for which the trope of “exile” is central. Topics include the literary construction of selfhood and its constituent categories; the role of language in the development of the self; the relational nature of the self (vis-à-vis the family, "society," God); the cultural status of "individuality"; the concept of childhood; and the role of individual testimony in our understanding of family, religious and cultural identity.
Palestine Joe Sacco
A B Yehoshua
Reflections on the Other: The Jew and the Arab in Literature
Taught with Prof. Vered Karti Shemtov, in English
Winter 2016, Stanford
This course explores how the figure of the Arab is viewed in Hebrew culture versus how the Jew is viewed in Palestinian culture, through representations in literature, graphic novels, film, TV shows and music. Alongside with critical theory on the concept of the Other, and the contasting narratives to the historical context of the conflict, students were exposed to major Jewish and Palestinian works by Amos Oz, AB Yehoshua, Sayed Kashua, Ghassan Kanafani, Emile Habiby, and many others.