The Department of Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures offers a major and a minor in Arabic. As majors in Arabic, students can expect to gain proficiency in the language, study the area's literary and cultural landmarks, and gain familiarity with Near Eastern history and civilizations.
Language Placement: Placement tests are required for all students entering our language programs. Students may be eligible for up to 6 units of back credit based on advanced placement and successful completion of the recommended course. Native speakers are not eligible for back credit; evidence of secondary or post-secondary study of the language is required. Any units received from back credit cannot be counted toward the major or minor.
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The Major in Arabic
- Two years language (Arabic) by course work or by placement
- JINE 210C Introduction to Islamic Civilization and JINE 208F History, Text and Identity: Introduction to Jewish Civilization
- Students with substantial prior course work may substitute an additional upper-level course with permission of adviser and the director of undergraduate studies (DUS).
24 upper-level (3xx or 4xx) credits, including:
- 3 credits in departmental capstone course to be taken senior year. (Students may take it junior year with permission of adviser and DUS.)
- 21 credits as follows:
- 12 credits of upper-level language (3xx or 4xx) courses
- 6 credits in literature, society, history, culture, religion
- 3 credits in another culture (for Arabic – Jewish Studies, Hebrew, South Asian Studies or Hindi)
- Students are encouraged to take courses distributed in each of the following areas: literature and culture, history, and religion.
- Senior thesis writers should sign up for an appropriate 3-credit course in the fall and in the spring. (The 6 credits can be applied to the primary area of study.)
- Students enrolled in Washington University study abroad programs during the regular academic semester can earn a maximum of 9 credits subject to review by their adviser and the DUS. Summer programs and transfer courses can be granted as many as 6 credits subject to review by their adviser and the DUS. A limit of 9 credits in total can be applied to the major, whether the credits are earned in study abroad, summer programs, or transfer credit. For more information on preapproved study abroad programs, please visit the Overseas Programs website.
- No credit will be given for courses taken outside the department other than those which are cross-listed.
- To be eligible to write a senior thesis, a student must maintain a GPA of 3.65 through the sixth semester.
- Students must maintain an average of B in all courses for the major. A grade of B- must be earned in each language course in order to advance to the next level.
- No course taken pass/fail can count toward either the prerequisites or the major.
The Minor in Arabic
- Beginning Arabic I (JINE 107D), Beginning Arabic II (JINE 108D) — whether by course work or placement
Required courses (18 units)
- Introduction to Islamic Civilization (JINE 210C)
- 9 units from 200-, 300-, or 400-level courses in Arabic language
- 6 units from 300- or 400-level courses in Islamic studies and Arabic literature and culture
Regulations for all language and culture minors
- Two semesters of the language must be taken at Washington University.
- No more than 12 credit units can be from language courses.
- Note that 300- or 400-level courses that include the study of texts in the original language may be considered courses about history, literature or religious studies rather than language courses.
- Preapproved Washington University study abroad programs during the regular academic semester, summer programs, and transfer courses can earn a maximum of 3 credits subject to review by adviser and DUS.
- Back credit granted for language courses does not count for the minor.
- No credits will be given for courses taken outside the department other than those which are cross-listed.
- A minimum of 18 credits is required for the minor.
- Double counting courses: A maximum of 3 credits used for the minor can be counted for another major or minor.
- Students have to maintain an average of B for the minor. A grade of B- must be earned in each language course in order to advance to the next language course.
- No pass/fail course can count toward either prerequisites or the minor.
Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L49 Arab.
L49 Arab 107D Beginning Arabic I
Introduction to modern Arabic; concentrates on rapidly developing basic skills in reading, writing, speaking and understanding. Five class hours, including one culture hour and additional drill or laboratory hours. Students with previous Arabic language background must take a placement examination.
L49 Arab 108D Beginning Arabic II
Continuation of Arab 107D. Emphasis on enhancing skills in reading, writing, speaking and aural comprehension of modern Arabic. Prerequisite: grade of B- or better in Arab 107DQ or placement by examination. Five class hours a week with additional drill or laboratory hours arranged by instructor.
L49 Arab 207D Intermediate Arabic I
Study of grammar of literary Arabic and reading of annotated classical and modern prose texts; elementary composition; practice in speaking and comprehending modern Arabic. Prerequisite: grade of B- or better in Arab 108DQ or placement by examination. Five class hours a week with additional drill or laboratory hours set by instructor.
L49 Arab 208D Intermediate Arabic II
Continuation of Arab 207D. Study of grammar of literary Arabic and reading of annotated classical and modern prose texts; elementary composition; practice in speaking and comprehending modern Arabic. Prerequisite: grade of B- or better in Arab 207D or placement by examination. Five class hours a week with additional drill or laboratory hours arranged by instructor.
L49 Arab 210F Introduction to Islamic Civilization
A historical survey of Islamic civilization in global perspective. Chronological coverage of social, political, economic and cultural history are balanced with focused attention to special topics, which include: aspects of Islam as religion; science, medicine and technology in Islamic societies; art and architecture; philosophy and theology; interaction between Islamdom and Christendom; Islamic history in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia as well as Africa; European colonialism; globalization of Islam and contemporary Islam.
Same as L75 JINE 210C
L49 Arab 3062 Islam, Culture and Society in West Africa
This course explores the introduction of Islam into West Africa beginning in the 10th Century and explores its expansion and development in the region, placing emphasis on the 19th century to present day. It focuses on the development of West African Muslim cultural, social, religious and political life, to understand not only how the religion affected societies, but also how West African local societies shaped Islam. The course also aims to introduce students to a critical understanding of Islamic writing in West Africa. It also examines the organization of Muslim Sufi orders in West Africa through time and space. The course is organized around a series of lectures, readings, as well as print and visual media.
Same as L90 AFAS 3062
L49 Arab 307D Advanced Arabic I
Continuation of Arab 208D. Competence in reading, writing, speaking, listening and culture is developed through intensive exposure to classical and modern standard Arabic in its written and audiovisual forms. Prerequisite: grade of B- or better in Arab 208D or placement by examination. Three class hours a week with one additional laboratory hour as assigned by instructor.
L49 Arab 308D Advanced Arabic II
A continuation of Arab 307D. Continued integration of language development through reading, writing, speaking and listening activities centered on advanced authentic material. This semester proves critical for making the transition from Modern Arabic to Classical Arabic, including Qur’anic Arabic. Continued development of colloquial Arabic. Prerequisite: Arab 307D or equivalent.
L49 Arab 313C Islamic History: 600-1200
The cultural, intellectual, and political history of the Islamic Middle East, beginning with the prophetic mission of Muhammad and concluding with the Mongol conquests. Topics covered include: the life of Muhammad; the early Muslim conquests; the institution of the caliphate; the translation movement from Greek into Arabic and the emergence of Arabic as a language of learning and artistic expression; the development of new educational, legal and pietistic institutions; changes in agriculture, crafts, commerce and the growth of urban culture; multiculturalism and inter-confessional interaction; and large-scale movements of nomadic peoples.
Same as L22 History 313C
L49 Arab 3149 The Late Ottoman Middle East
This course surveys the Middle East in the late Ottoman period (essentially the 18th and 19th centuries, up to the First World War). It examines the central Ottoman state and the Ottoman provinces as they were incorporated into the world economy, and how they responded to their peripheralization in that process. Students focus on how everyday people's lived experiences were affected by the increased monetarization of social and economic relations; changes in patterns of land tenure and agriculture; the rise of colonialism; state efforts at modernization and reform; shifts in gender relations; and debates over the relationship of religion to community and political identity.
Same as L22 History 3149
L49 Arab 325 Introduction to Arabic Literature
A survey of the major genres and themes in Arabic literature from the pre-Islamic era to the modern period. Texts include pre-Islamic, classical and Sufi poetry, as well as popular tales and critical prose from the Umayyad and Abbasid empires and Andalusia. The modern sections of the course interrogate political commitment in Arabic literature and introduce students to feminist and magical realist novels from North Africa and the Levant. All readings are in English translation.
L49 Arab 329C Middle Eastern Islamic Literatures in Translation
This course studies, in English translation, several great works of Islamic literature that still influence or reflect the ways in which we perceive Islamic culture today. We critically consider great and disparate literary works, originally written in a variety of languages including Arabic, Turkish and Persian and stretched from Spain to India, that share the common backdrop of an urban and educated milieu in which they were produced, widely read and circulated. The course aims at exploring the literary cultures in their historical and social context. Possible themes include court literature, politics, Sufi literature, history, theology and literature of romance. All readings are in English.
L49 Arab 352 Iraqi Literature
This course introduces students to major works in Iraqi literature in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on the post-World War Two period up to the present day.
L49 Arab 355C The Flowering of Islamic Literature, 500-1200
Exploration of the multilingual (Arabic, Persian, Turkish) literary cultures of a civilization that stretched from Spain to India. Themes and genres include early court patronage, bedouin odes, wine poetry, social satire, mystical poetry, national epic, and the literature of love and romance. Comparisons to contemporaneous Hebrew and ancient and medieval Western literatures. Readings in English.
Same as L16 Comp Lit 355C
L49 Arab 361 City of Peace: Baghdad in Medieval Times (ca. 762-1250)
The subject of this course is an exploration of the city of Baghdad in medieval times from its foundation in the eighth century to its sack by the Mongols in the 13th. Starting from the background history of its location in Mesopotamia, we study the reasons of its foundation in that location and examine its topography, city planning and layout, institutions, citizens, neighborhoods, markets, libraries and workshops to discuss life in the city. Because Baghdad was the seat of the Abbasid caliphate at the time, we examine its role as the hub of the empire (in politics, administration, economy and literature), and its links to and rivalries with other provincial cities.
Same as L75 JINE 361
L49 Arab 396 Islamic Philosophy, Mysticism, and Theology
How does an individual achieve access to knowledge and access to God? To what extent is such access dependent upon scripture? To what extent is such access dependent upon reason? Are there forms of truth and experience that only reveal themselves through mysticism? Questions of this sort are central to the interrelated disciplines of Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, and Islamic mysticism (i.e., Sufism). This course examines the preceding three disciplines, with a focus on the premodern period. Students will be introduced to major figures within these disciplines, including al-Ghazali, Ibn Sina, Ibn al-'Arabi, Ibn Taymiyya, and Rumi. Moreover, students will also examine how these disciplines have shaped various aspects of social life within premodern Muslim communities. Although the course addresses a range of issues, special attention will be given to the following topics: (1) the relationship between Islamic scripture/law and Islamic philosophy, mysticism and theology; (2) the relationship between Islamic religious teachings and the forms of both "high" and "popular" culture found in premodern Muslim societies; (3) free thought, scientific inquiry, heterodoxy, skepticism and blasphemy in premodern Muslim societies; (4) Muslim institutions and social movements dedicated to promoting philosophy, mysticism and theology; (5) the aesthetic significance of philosophical, mystical, and theological teachings, and the expression of such teachings in Islamic ritual, poetry, literature, music, dance, painting and architecture.
Same as L23 Re St 396
L49 Arab 4001 Capstone Seminar
The capstone course for Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies majors, Arabic majors, and Hebrew majors. The course content is subject to change.
Same as L75 JINE 4001
L49 Arab 4041 Islam and Politics
Blending history and ethnography, this course covers politics in the Islamic world in historical and contemporary times. Topics include history of Islam, uniformity and diversity in belief and practice (global patterns, local realities), revolution and social change, women and veiling, and the international dimensions of resurgent Islam. Geographical focus extends from Morocco to Indonesia; discussion of other Muslim communities is included (Bosnia, Chechnya, sub-Saharan Africa, U.S.).
Same as L48 Anthro 4041
L49 Arab 405 Colloquial Arabic
The aim of this course is to introduce the students to colloquial Arabic through their knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). We focus on the main differences between colloquial and MSA so that the students can use the colloquial form for practical purposes in everyday life. Prerequisite: Arab 208D or instructor's permission.
L49 Arab 407 Fourth-Level Arabic I
Focused reading and discussion of classical and modern texts centered on selected topics in Arabic literature, poetry and media. Continued development of oral, aural and writing skills. Students' interests are taken into consideration before finalizing the selection of texts. Practice in writing and grammar. Prerequisite: grade of B- or better in Arab 308D or placement by examination.
L49 Arab 408 Fourth-Level Arabic II
Readings and discussion in Arabic of selected classical texts. Students' interests are taken into consideration before finalizing the selection of texts. Practice in writing and grammar. Continued development of colloquial Arabic.
L49 Arab 450 Topics in Classical Arabic Literature and Culture
Exploration of medieval Arabic Belles-Lettres (Adab). All texts read in Arabic. Prerequisite: senior standing.
L49 Arab 451 Topics in Modern Arabic Literature and Culture
L49 Arab 464 Arabic Textual Analysis
This course introduces the advanced student of Arabic to a variety of prose narratives in the modern language. Readings, which include literary texts and topical essays on aspects of Arabic society and culture, reflect the needs and interests of the enrolled students.
L49 Arab 465 Topics in Arabic
This course is an in-depth study of a particular segment of Arabic literature and/or culture.
L49 Arab 4675 Beyond the Harem: Women, Gender, and Revolution
This course examines the history and current situations of women in Middle Eastern societies. The first half of the course is devoted to studying historical changes in factors structuring women's status and their sociopolitical roles. The second half of the course will focus on several case studies of women's participation in broad anti-colonial social revolutions and how these revolutions affected the position of women in those societies.
Same as L22 History 4675
L49 Arab 470 Topics in Classical Arabic Literature in Translation
Various themes in Arabic religious literature and Belles-Lettres (Adab), e.g., the intertwining of religion and politics, court culture and fashions, social critiques, gender roles, etc., are read in English.
L49 Arab 471 Topics in Modern Arabic Literature in Translation
Modern Arabic narratives read in English translation foregrounding themes such as the conflict between tradition and modernity, civil war, poverty, alienation, religion and politics, and changing gender roles.
L49 Arab 488 Independent Work for Senior Honors
This course to be taken in the fall semester. Prerequisites: senior standing, eligibility for honors, and permission of the department.
Credit 3 units.
L49 Arab 489 Independent Work for Senior Honors
This course to be taken in the spring semester. Prerequisite: senior standing, eligibility for honors, and permission of the department.
Credit 3 units.
L49 Arab 497 Guided Readings in Arabic
Prerequisites: senior standing and permission of instructor and department chair.
Credit variable, maximum 5 units.
L49 Arab 498 Guided Readings in Arabic
Prerequisites: senior standing and permission of the instructor and the department chair.
Credit 3 units.