UMass Amherst
Judaic and Near Eastern Studies
 

Course Descriptions

Middle Eastern Studies | Judaic Studies

Arabic courses are listed at bottom of page.  Please note new four-skilled Arabic language courses (ARABIC 101, 102, 201 and 202) and new fourth-year level Arabic Literature course (LLC 497A).

 

(All courses listed below carry 3 credits unless otherwise noted.)

HISTORY 130 / MIDEAST 100 Middle East History I (G, HS) (4 credits)
This course will provide an introduction to the history of the Islamic world from the birth of the Prophet Muhammad in 570 CE to the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258.  It will focus on the origins and the tenets of Islam, then turn to an investigation of the cultures and societies that emerged from the interactions of Islam and the Muslim community with existing cultures and political systems.  The course will address such issues as the military and political realities of the Islamic empires, economics and trade, the interaction between nomadism and sedentary life, and Middle Eastern models of just rule.  It will also examine questions of religious sectarianism, race, philosophy and spirituality. (Students register for HISTORY 130.)

HISTORY 131 / MIDEAST 101 Middle East History II (G, HS) (4 credits)
Survey of social, political and cultural change in the Middle East from the rise of the Ottoman Empire around 1300 to the present.  Topics include the impact on the Middle East of the shift in world trade from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic; social, political, and cultural change; Ottoman and European relations; imperialism and revolution; World War I and the peace settlement; state formation; and the rise of nationalism and religious fundamentalism. (Students register for HISTORY 131)

MIDEAST 390A The Arab World Today: Culture and Change
This course surveys the main issues of debate in modern Arab society (social, intellectual and political). Focusing on key turning points in the 20th century, this course examines changes in definitions of identity, modernist thought, nationalism and views of the West in the Arab world. Students will analyze representative samples of these trends, including novels, memoirs, treatises and films.

MIDEAST 392A   S-Semitic Linguistics I

Students of Hebrew and Arabic (linguistics background not required) will learn about these languages' evolution, structure, variation and contact using methods of comparative linguistics within the framework of Semitic languages.   Students should have one year of either Arabic or Hebrew language; no prior knowledge of linguistics is required.

 

Other upper-level courses in Middle Eastern Studies are offered by adjunct or associated faculty in Anthropology, Art History, Communications, German, History, Legal Studies and Political Science, among others, as well as in departments of Asian Languages & Civilization, Government, Religion and Social Science at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College and Smith College (the other four colleges in the Five-College Consortium).

 

Arabic

ARABIC 101 Elementary Four-Skilled Arabic I (6 credits)

This first semester of a year-long course introduces the basics of Modern Standard Arabic, also known as Classical Arabic. It begins with a coverage of the alphabet, vocabulary for everyday use, and essential communicative skills relating to real-life and task-oriented situations (queries about personal well-being, family, work, and telling the time). Students will concentrate on speaking and listening skills, as well as on learning the various forms of regular verbs, and on how to use an Arabic dictionary.

(second half will be offered in Spring Semester)

ARABIC 102 Elementary Four-Skilled Arabic II (6 credits)

Students will complete the study of the Elementary Arabic book sequence. 
Emphasis will be on the development of all language skills using a communicative-oriented, proficiency-based approach. By the end of the academic year, students will acquire vocabulary and usage for everyday interactions as well as skills that will allow them to communicate in a variety of situations. In addition to the traditional textbook exercises, students will write short essays and participate in role plays, discussions, and conversations throughout the year.

ARABIC 126 Elementary Arabic I (4 credits)
First semester of Introduction to Modern Standard Arabic, also known as classical Arabic. This two-semester course covers the basics in first-year Arabic; study of the alphabet, sounds, and writing style, and development of basic grammatical structures and communication skills. Students read and write short passages on various real-life situations. (second half will be offered in Spring Semester)

ARABIC 146 Elementary Arabic II (4 credits)

Continuation of ARABIC 126 - second semester of two-semester course.  Introduction to Modern Standard Arabic, also known as classical Arabic. This two-semester course covers the basics in first-year Arabic; study of the alphabet, sounds, and writing style, and development of basic grammatical structures and communication skills. Students read and write short passages on various real-life situations. Prerequisite:  ARABIC 126 or consent of instructor.

ARABIC 201 Intermediate Four-Skilled Arabic I (6 credits)

Students in this course will continue perfecting their knowledge of Arabic focusing on the four skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Emphasis will be on the development of all language skills using a communicative-oriented, proficiency-based approach. By the end of the academic year, students will acquire vocabulary and usage for everyday interactions as well as skills that will allow them to communicate in a variety of situations. Students should expect text assignments as well as work with DVDs, audio and websites. Exercises include writing, social interactions, role plays, and the interplay of language and culture. (second half will be offered in Spring Semester)

ARABIC 202 Intermediate Four-Skilled Arabic II (6 credits)

Students in this course will continue perfecting their knowledge of Arabic focusing on the four skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing using a communicative-oriented, proficiency-based approach. Students should expect text assignments as well as work with DVDs, audio and video materials and online exercises. Exercises include writing, social interactions, role plays, and the interplay of language and culture.

ARABIC 226 Intermediate Arabic I (4 credits)
First semester of the second year of Modern Standard Arabic; expanding the grammatical and syntactical structures necessary for reading basic forms of literary Arabic. Samples include: newspaper excerpts, short stories, descriptive narratives. Emphasis also placed on writing short essays and developing oral skills, using a broader range of regular and irregular verbs. Prerequisite:  ARABIC 146 or consent of instructor. (second half will be offered in Spring Semester)

ARABIC 246 Intermediate Arabic II (4 credits)

Continuation of ARABIC 246 - second semester of the second year of Modern Standard Arabic; expanding the grammatical and syntactical structures necessary for reading basic forms of literary Arabic. Samples include: newspaper excerpts, short stories, descriptive narratives. Emphasis also placed on writing short essays and developing oral skills, using a broader range of regular and irregular verbs. At the end of the second semester, students examine a range of Arabic news broadcasts. Prerequisite:  ARABIC 226 or consent of instructor.

ARABIC 326 Advanced Arabic I
Focuses on reading sustained samples of Arabic prose in various fields-fiction, biography, history, journalism, political critiques. Students explore a range of complex grammatical structures and idiomatic expressions in these texts. Equal emphasis placed in reading, writing, speaking, and oral comprehension. Prerequisite:  ARABIC 246 or consent of instructor.

ARABIC 346 Advanced Arabic II

Focuses on reading sustained samples of Arabic prose in various fields-fiction, biography, history, journalism, political critiques. Students explore a range of complex grammatical structures and idiomatic expressions in these texts. Equal emphasis placed in reading, writing, speaking, and oral comprehension. Prerequisite:  ARABIC 326 or consent of instructor.

ARABIC 391 Modern Arabic Literature in Translation
A representative sample of modern Arabic poems, short stories, novels and plays, with a brief account of the critical background of the various genres. Class discussions concentrate on the students' appreciations of the texts assigned.

 

LLC 497A Fourth-Year Arabic Literature I (3 credits)

Introduction to the Arabic world and its culture through reading the major authors, texts and movements in modern Arabic literature.  Using the texts as a point of departure, students will discuss intellectual, political, and cultural thought as it develops in Arabic literature to the present day. This course focuses on major 20th century writers investigating a variety of cultural, social, political and socioeconomic topics. Students will be responsible for oral presentations and short essays in addition to two research papers during the term. Texts are in Arabic; discussion is in Arabic. Students must have completed third year Arabic or equivalent or by instructor permission.

 

Note: Internships may take the place of upper-level courses at the rate of 1-3 credits for the minor and 1-6 credits for the major.

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