Spring 2019

MES Spring 2019 Course Offerings

Arabic 3: Beginning Arabic

  • Jamila Chahboun @ 9S
  • Mostafa Ouajjani @ 9S

An introduction to written and spoken Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). In addition to mastering the basics of grammar, emphasis is placed on active functional communication in the language, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. Mandatory apprentice-teacher-run drill sessions meet four times/week (4 hours/week) for all beginning Arabic language classes.


Arabic 23: Intermediate Arabic @ 10

  • Mokhtar Bouba

Intermediate level of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Continuation of presentation of fundamentals of grammar and development of proficiency in reading, writing, spoken communication skills, and aural comprehension, including much authentic cultural material.


Arabic 33: Advanced Arabic @ 10 (CANCELLED)

  • Mostafa Ouajjani

The goal for this course is to develop Arabic from the intermediate to the advanced level. This course will focus on three key elements: grammar review and exercises, readings in modern Arabic fiction, and an introduction to media Arabic.


Arabic 43: Advanced Arabic @ 12 (CANCELLED)

  • Hussein Kadhim

This three-course series (41, 42 and 43) may be taken non-sequentially. Readings for the courses are extensive and of a high level of complexity; they are drawn from a variety of genres and periods. The progression towards full proficiency in the language is a fundamental objective of the sequence. The courses will be conducted entirely in Arabic.


Arabic 59: Advanced Independent Study in Arabic @ arranged time


Hebrew 3: Beginning Hebrew @ 2

  • Nurit Ben Yehuda

An introduction to spoken and written Modern Israeli Hebrew (MIH). In addition to mastering the basics of grammar, emphasis is placed on active functional communication in the language, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. Mandatory student-run drill sessions meet four times/week for one hour (4 hours/week) for all beginning Hebrew language classes.


Hebrew 51: Hebrew of the Bible @ arranged time (CANCELLED)

  • Nurit Ben Yehuda

An introduction to the language of the Hebrew Bible. The course teaches basic Biblical grammar, script, and vocabulary for recognition. Readings will be taken from a sampling of Biblical texts. This course serves as a requirement for students wishing to major and minor in Hebrew language and literature.


Hebrew 59: Advanced Independent Study in Hebrew @ arranged time


MES 5.02 /JWST 16: Introduction to Hebraic and Israeli Culture @ 10A (CANCELLED)

  • Lewis Glinert

This course explores the interaction of Hebrew literature, film, music, religion, and society. For millennia, Hebrew has had a unique spiritual hold on both the Jewish and Christian identity. We will focus on the Bible as wisdom, law, and poetry, the Talmud of the ancient Rabbis, Kabbalah and Hebrew alphabet mysticism, war and the Israeli cinema, Hebrew folk and rock culture, and a modern political mystery: how today's Hebrew created a new Jewish identity. Required for the major and minor. No knowledge of Hebrew is required.  Glinert.


MES 7.01: First-Year Seminar: Arab Revolutions: Dependency, Despotism and the Struggle for Democracy @ 10A

  • Ezzedine Fishere

This course explores the long struggle of Arabs to build independent and democratic states. After long cycles of revolutions and repression, the Arab World still suffer from despotism and dependency, and its people still yearn and struggle for freedom and good governance. Why have Arab revolutions failed? Are Arabs condemned to live under tyranny or is there hope forthose who seek democratic, accountable governments and rule of law? To answer this question, we will dig into the complex political and cultural realities of the Arab World. We will read about old and new Arab revolutions; from Prince Abdul-Qader’s armed revolt in Algeria (1832-1847); Egypt’s multiple revolutions (1882 and 1919); Lawrence of Arabia’s Arab revolt (1914-1918); the bleak revolution of Palestine (1936), all the way to the Arab Spring of 2011 and its subsequent collapse into civil war and despotism. The readings cover these revolutions and the deep dynamics that shape Arab societies and states. We will also read old texts written by Arabs about freedom, despotism and renaissance. As such, this course introduces students to the politics and culture of one of the most turbulent regions of our world.


MES 12.05/GOVT 60.17: Arab Political Thought @ 2A

  • Ezzedine Fishere

This is a gateway course to Arab political thought. It will introduce students to the main political and intellectual debates in the modern Arab world since its nascent beginnings during the first half of the 19th century to the ideologies that animated the Arab Spring and its aftermath, including:

  • Early accounts of political modernity
  • Early Islamic revivalism
  • Liberal thought
  • Nationalism and Pan-Arabism
  • Arab socialism, Marxism and the New Left
  • Anti-Colonialism and Occidentalism
  • Dreams of Domination
  • Citizenship, democracy and human rights
  • New directions in Arab thought: Liberalism, nationalism and Islamism

We will cover the basic contours and intellectual debates around these issues, analyzing the main texts tracing their development. The aim of this course is not only to familiarize students with the basic political features of the Middle East but also to equip students with the tools necessary to pursue future academic and analytical work on the politics of the region.


MES 16.07: Arabian Nights @ 2

  • Hussein Kadhim

An introduction to Arabo-Islamic culture through its most accessible and popular exponent, One Thousand and One Nights. The course will take this masterpiece of world literature as the focal point for a multidisciplinary literary study. It will cover the genesis of the text from Indian and Mediterranean antecedents, its Arabic recensions, its reception in the West, and its influence on European literature. The course will be taught in English in its entirety. No prerequisites.


MES 16.03/LING 11.03: Language Behavior and Verbal Cultures in the Middle East @ 2A

  • Lewis Glinert

This course in anthropology and ethnography of language illustrates how Middle Eastern cultures employ language to construct and reflect values, identities and institutions, to create relationships and project personal status, and to perform actions (such as ending a phone call, apologizing, paying compliments, and negotiating business deals). Particular attention will be paid to the beliefs people hold about their languages and scripts. No prior knowledge of a particular language or culture is assumed. Open to all classes.


MES 16.22: Arabic as a cultural System (Fez, Morocco FSP) -- CANCELLED

  • Kevin Reinhart

MES 16.23: Discovering an Islamic City (Fez, Morocco FSP) -- CANCELLED

  • Kevin Reinhart

MES 17.10/REL 28.02: Topics in Study of Islam: Islam of Morocco (Fez, Morocco FSP) -- CANCELLED

  • Kevin Reinhart


MES 16.36/*COLT 53.04: Rogues, Riddlers, Lovers, Liars: Love & Death in the Mediterranean @ 10

  • Yasser Elhariry

This course examines the intertwined relationship between the languages and representations of love and death in the mediterranean, focusing in particular on the Arab world and diaspora in the modern period. It examines cinematic, literary and philosophical questions about the complex relationships between love and death, and provides students with critical tools in comparison, world, and global literature, translation studies, critical, and literary theory. We will study the thematic, structural, and rhetorical constructions of love and death across languages and artistic traditions.


MES 81.01/THEA 10.45: Arab Theater @ 11

  • Eman Morsi

This class is a survey of the main trends and themes in Arab theatre from the mid-19th century to contemporary times. Students will be introduced to some of the main playwrights, actors and directors who helped define the art in the Arab world over the last century and a half.


MES 87: Advanced Independent Research (Senior Honors Thesis part 2) @ arranged time



MES 15.08: The Art of the Novel: A Masterclass with Hoda Barakat @ 2A 

  • Hoda Barakat

Each novel has its own “secret of fabrication.” This course introduces students to the processes, techniques, and themes involved in writing the novel. The approach will be personal, engaging author Hoda Barakat’s own experience as a novelist who had to confront in her writing war, exile, tribalism, violence, and love. Each week will focus on a particular set of questions, starting with the idea of the novel and the development of characters, and moving to questions of gender, sexuality, and voice. The course will focus on the fears, obsessions, excitement, and euphoria involved in the writing process, and on the social and political contexts from which works arise or that novels have to critique in today’s world. The students will engage Barakat’s writings, and work to develop their own writing by workshopping their pieces throughout the term. This course is taught in Arabic.


MES 15.09/COLT 51.04: Language and Rebellion: Arabic Literature in a Comparative Context @ 10A 

  • Hoda Barakat

This course focuses on rebellion in modern Arabic literature. Rebellion could be a political act (an uprising against a colonial power or an authoritarian regime), a psychological act (rebellion against the father), and an artistic act (rebellion against a system of values and traditions). These realms are interconnected and it’s precisely their intersection that the students will analyze by engaging works by modern Arab authors. Exploring this theme in a comparative context, the students will explore the politics of language, the relation to personal and national identity, and the implications of writing in the language of the other (French, Hebrew, English, etc.). Each week focuses on one Arab author, situating his/her work in the appropriate historical and social context, and doing close readings of his/her work. All books are translated into English, and the course is taught in English.


The following course will grant MES course credit:

REL 27: The Qur'an and the Prophet @ 10A

  • Candace Mixon

This course introduces students to the Qur’an through diverse perspectives, including through its revelation, assembly as a text, its interpreters, and the Qur’an as a material object. Students will learn about the life of the Prophet Muhammad in conjunction with the revelation of the Qur’an as well as the importance of the Prophet’s own sayings and example in Islamic law and practice. We will examine interpretations of the Qur’an from different chronological, geographical, and gendered perspectives. Students will leave the class with an understanding of the role of the Qur’an for Muslims and Islam historically and in contemporary times, as well as debates surrounding it.