English 1100, Fall 2007
Welcome to the special honors section of WMU English Department's first course in literary study! This section of Literary Interpretation will offer a unique, "experimental" focus on literature about and from the Middle East while, at the same time, meeting the catalog description and course objectives.
The United States is still reeling from the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, is engaged in protracted wars in Iraq and Afganistan, and extensive political engagement in the region, especially Israel, Palestine, and Egypt. Our country has a long history of involvement in the Middle East that has important consequences for our country, the region, and the entire world.
The course will be divided into two primary sections. First will be a focus on the portrayal or respresentation of the Middle East in texts and cultural artifacts that have become canonical in the West especially before 9/11, but also afterward. Second, and in response to these works, we will engage in reading of modern works in translation by Middle Eastern writers. While many works will be read in common, there will also be independent and group-based reading assignments. Given the experimental nature of this class, the current syllabus is only provisional and will evolve with the course.
Reading literature about and from this region will provide an exciting opportunity to increase cultural, political, and historical knowledge, while, at the same time, satisfying the goals of developing the ability to read and write about literature. We will apply tools of close reading to additional cultural texts, including young adult texts, images, graphic novels, film, the internet, and so on as we engage in close reading and critical viewing. We will read texts and hear speakers from a variety of points of view, with an emphasis on those points of view that are less often heard in the United States.
One focus will be on the Palestinian crisis -- at the center of conflict in the Middle East. As background for our literary reading, we will read former President Carter's new book on the Israel/ Palestinian conflict. Differences of opinion will be respected and explored as we seek a deeper understanding of the literature and issues involved.
Students will frequently take on mini-research projects and presentations related to the literature and themes explored in the class.
Perhaps it is obvious that it is important to increase American understanding of the Middle East. The work that we do in this experimental course will become the basis for publications that I hope will appear in widely read professional journals for teachers.
Our on-line syllabus serves as an electronic, hyperlinked, textbook. All students will develop and publish their own academic blogs and these websites will be interlinked, interactive, and woven into course discussion and writing. Our section is held in a special wireless, laptop classroom 1354 Ellsworth Hall that will accomodate a number of experiments using the internet and other technologies to enhance course materials and work.
Because the course is held as a seminar, your participation is vital to the learning of your classmates. Attendance will be taken and missing classes will lower your grade. Missing more than four classes may lead to failing. This course will follow WMU policies regarding academic honesty.
WMU has many resources to foster student health and well being. I support the Safe on Campus environment (387-2123). If at any point in the semester if you feel stress, English 4800 does offer free on-line therapy from Eliza!
My office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605. Office hours are immediately after class and by appointment. You can always reach me via email.
Sep 5 Wednesday: Introductions
Sep 10 Monday: Early Representations
Sep 12 Wednesday: Othello
Sep 17 Monday: Shakespeare and Representations of Middle East
Sep 19 Wednesday: 1001 Nights
Sep 24 Monday 1001 Nights Continued
Sep 26 Wednesday Rubaiyat and Sufi Poetry
Oct 1 Monday History of Modern Middle East
Oct 8 Monday Exile: Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani, visit from Dr. Mustafa Mughazy (Egypt)
Oct 10 Wednesday Palestinian Short Stories
Oct 22 Monday Palestine Solutions?
Oct 24 Wednesday Israel and American Foreign Policy Speaker: Dr. Mike Jayne
Oct 29 Monday 9/11 and Iraq War: Terrorism and Portrayal of the Middle East, Speaker Dr. Ron Cramer (anti-war activist)
Nov 5 Monday Literature Circles
Nov 14 Wednesday Visitor: Ingie Zakaria (Egypt)
Nov 19 Monday Visitor: Dr. Joe Ellen (Israel), American Soldiers from Iraq
Nov 21 Wednesday NO CLASS, THANKSGIVING RECESS
Nov 26 Monday
Nov 28 Wednesday Speaker: Dr. Mustafa Mizeler (Turkey)
Dec 3 Monday Speaker: Zaydun Al-Shara (Jordan) Images of Jordan
Dec 5 Wednesday Speaker: Jahan Aghdai (Iran)
Dec 10-14: Finals Week
Dec 13 Thursday 8:00 -10:00 Scheduled Final Exam
Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature
English 204 World Literature in Translation by Tom Gage at Humbolt State University