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Course Descriptions

Courses in BOLD will be offered in Fall 2014:

Introductory Courses

ARB 111: Beginning Intensive Arabic I

Instructor: Alexander Magidow or Staff
This four-credit course is an intensive introduction to the Arabic language, intended for students with no prior background in Arabic. By the end of the course, students will be able to read and write the alphabet use basic vocabulary to hold brief, polite interactions with native speakers of Arabic. This course focuses on the spoken variety of Arabic used in conversation and social media. Students will also keep a cultural portfolio on topics of their choosing, and will be expected to read an Arabic-language novel in English translation.

ARB 112: Beginning Intensive Arabic II

Instructor: Alexander Magidow or Staff
This four-credit course is a follow up to ARB 111. By the end of the course, students be able to conduct more complex interactions with native speakers of Arabic. This course focuses on the spoken variety of Arabic used in conversation and social media but begins introducing more vocabulary and grammar specific to Standard Arabic. Students will also keep a cultural portfolio on topics of their choosing, and will be expected to read an Arabic-language novel in English translation.

HPR 107 / RLS 211: Islamic Religion and Civilization

Instructor: Katrin Jomaa
This course provides the students with the basic foundation to understand Islam as a religion and a civilization. The first part of the course discusses Islamic monotheism in comparison with the concept of monotheism in general. This is followed by exploring major themes in the Quran such as the concept of God (Allah), human kind , free will, evil, prophets (including major biblical prophets) and religious diversity. Then, we will discuss how the latter beliefs are embodied in Islamic rituals and practice (shari’a). The second part of the course addresses how Islamic beliefs were manifested in the social and political spheres of Muslim societies, in other words how religious ideas created an Islamic civilization.

HIS 176: Islamic History: From the Origins of Islam to 1492

Instructor: Alan Verskin
Introduces core ideas and events which have shaped the Islamic world. Topics include Muhammad and the Qur’an, the Sunni/Shii divide, the development of Sharia law and encounters with the West.

HIS 178: History of the Modern Middle East

Instructor: Alan Verskin
Course covers the major social and political issues which have shaped the history of the contemporary Middle East. Topics include the impact of colonialism, nationalism, socialism, and Islamic revival movements.

Middle Eastern and Islamicate World

ARB 211: Intermediate Intensive Arabic I

Instructor: Alexander Magidow or Staff
This course is the follow up to ARB 112 or ARB 102, and is also a four-credit intensive course. Students will continue to build on their vocabulary and knowledge of spoken Arabic, while developing their skills in written and spoken standard Arabic. By the end of this course, students will have reached Intermediate proficiency in Arabic according to the ACTFL scale, the ability to perform basic concrete functions in the language. Students will continue to keep a cultural portfolio on topics of their choosing, and will be expected to read an Arabic-language novel in English translation.

ARB 212: Intermediate Intensive Arabic II

Instructor: Alexander Magidow or Staff
This course is the follow up to ARB 211, and is also a four-credit intensive course. Students will be continue developing their skills in both formal and spoken Arabic. By the end of this course, students will be moving up through the Intermediate proficiency in Arabic according to the ACTFL scale, and will have the ability to deal with many types of interactions, both written and spoken, with native speakers of Arabic. Students will continue to keep a cultural portfolio on topics of their choosing, and will be expected to read an Arabic-language novel in English translation.

ARB 311: Advanced Intensive Arabic I

Instructor: Alexander Magidow or Staff
This course is a follow up to ARB 212 or ARB 200, and is also a four-credit intensive course. Students will focus on making use of formal Arabic in writing, listening and speaking, while continuing to develop a broader vocabulary in colloquial spoken Arabic. By the end of this course, students will reach Intermediate High or even Advanced Low proficiency in Arabic, and will be able to deal with abstract topics in Arabic. Students will continue to keep a cultural portfolio on topics of their choosing, and will be expected to read an Arabic-language novel in English translation or an Arabic-language short story.

ARB 312: Advanced Intensive Arabic II

Instructor: Alexander Magidow or Staff
This course is a follow up to ARB 312, and is also a four-credit intensive course. Students will focus on making use of formal Arabic in writing, listening and speaking, while continuing to develop a broader vocabulary in colloquial spoken Arabic. By the end of this course, students will reach or be very close to Advanced proficiency in Arabic and dedicated students may move beyond Advanced-Mid, able to deal with abstract and complex topics in Arabic. The class will include extensive reading in Arabic, whether in Arabic literature or media. Students will continue to keep a cultural portfolio on topics of their choosing, and will be expected to analyze readings in Arabic for cultural content.

HIS 376: Women in Muslim Societies

Instructor: Alan Verskin
Examines gender relations in the modern Middle East through novels, poetry, and oral histories, as well as through historical and anthropological studies.

PSC 312: Politics of the Middle East

Instructor: Katrin Jomaa
This course is designed to foster a rethinking of Middle Eastern politics and a critical assessment of current events in the region. No prior knowledge of the Middle East is required. We will start with the basic socio-political structure of early Arab communities, then have a chronological synopsis of how the Arab Muslims established empires across the Middle East, North Africa and South Western Europe. This very brief introduction should provide the students with a basic understanding of Middle Eastern mentality and demonstrate how religion and politics are intertwined in the region. We will then skim through the colonial history in the region, indigenous people’s reactions to it and independence through establishing modern nation states. The Second part of the course is dedicated to the modern period, analyzing contemporary conflicts between different players (internal and international).

PSC 482: Secularism and Islamism in the Modern World

Instructor: Katrin Jomaa
Secularism represents the basic conception of Western modernity and the West’s political self-understanding. The modernization project anticipated that the retreat of religion to the private sphere will ultimately lead to the decline of religion in public life. However, it seems that the secularization narrative fails to explain the religious resurgence in Muslim societies and its driving force in popular mobilization against oppressive regimes.

This seminar explores secularism, as a philosophical and political doctrine, and questions its global significance. What is the relationship between Secularism, individual freedom and the modern democratic nation state? On the other hand, we will examine how secularism and the Western political ideal have been received by Muslim thinkers. This seminar will explore such concepts/ ideas through interdisciplinary readings in philosophical, social and political theory. Then, we will examine the application of these concepts through case studies in Muslim and Western countries.

FRN 412: “Colonial and Post-Colonial France on Film: Immigration and the North African Population in France” (in French)

Instructor: Dr. Leslie Kealhofer-Kemp (lkealhofer@uri.edu)

France’s relationship with the Maghreb (the North African countries of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) began with the conquest of Algeria in 1830. The French colonial empire ended with the Independence of Algeria in 1962, after a bitter eight-year war. By 1962, a significant European settler population lived in the Maghreb, and particularly in Algeria, and thousands of migrant workers from the Maghreb were working in France (many had been recruited in order to fill a labor shortage after the Second World War). In the 1960s and 1970s, many of these men were joined by their wives, and although they always intended to return to their home country one day, for most, the settlement was permanent. This was due in large part because they had children in France. These children, often referred to as the “second generation” of Maghrebis in France (or popularly as ‘beurs’), were born and/or raised in France and thus had a bi-cultural heritage. In this course, we will consider how the contributions of filmmakers, actors, and actresses of Maghrebi origin in France have re-shaped the French film industry as well as French culture. We will study films released between 1985 and 2013 and will consider them in their cultural, political, and historical context. In doing so, we will reflect upon France’s relationship with its immigrant and minority-ethnic populations more broadly and will reflect upon the extent to which France has lived up to its Republican ideals of liberté, égalité and fraternité. The films in our corpus will serve as a starting point to analyze the following question: What does it mean to be French?

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