NMC316H1: Cultural Encounter in Arabic Narrative


This course examines historical and literary texts that narrate Muslim and Arab encounters with cultural difference. Students will read travel narratives, autobiographies, and fictional texts that chronicle encounters with the Arab-Islamic world’s cultural “others.” The course first examines travel narratives from the medieval Islamic period, including al-Sirafi’s travels to India and China, and Ibn Fadlan’s encounters with peoples inhabiting lands north of the Abbasid Empire, such as the Vikings. Students then consider how travel narratives in the modern period are transformed due to radical changes in the balance of power between Europe and the Middle East, first reading 19th-century travel narratives to Paris (al-Tahtawi), and then focusing on 20th-century texts that narrate the travels of Arab men and women to Europe and North America (Leila Ahmed, Sayyid Qutb, Nawal El Saadawi). Students will also read texts that depict encounters with non-Arabs within the modern Arab world, such as literary depictions of American oil workers in the Arab Gulf (Munif). All readings are in English translation.

3.0 credits in BR 1/BR 2
Creative and Cultural Representations (1)