Middle East Interp Blog























































































































































English 1100, Fall 2009

Literary Interpretation

Welcome to an experimental section of Literary Interpretation where students will join the professor in a research and publication project on teaching contemporary literature and film from the Middle East!

Participation in this project will involve extensive and careful reading, research, maintaining a class blog, and writing a series of literary and film analysis papers as we follow English 1100 catalog description and course objectives.

Eight years after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, our country remains engaged in protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and extensively involved politically, economically, and culturally in the region. Growing minority populations in English-speaking countries have cultural roots in the Middle East.

Most Americans know little about the area, its diversity of people and life patterns, the impact of migration, war, cultural, econonic and environmental change, the influence of American involvement, or even people of Middle Eastern origin in their own communities. Instead, the mass media fills us with stereotypes. At the same time there is a renaissance of authentic literature in and about the Middle East published in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Hebrew, French, and English -- increasingly available in translation.

The power of literature is it's ability to help us understand the perspective of others. Studying this literature from the Middle East will allow students to acquire the tools of literary interpretation, develop knowledge of an emerging body of world literature, and participate in writing a book for teachers addressing Middle Eastern literature in the classroom. (Routledge, a major international press, will publish this book in 2010 and students will be invited to sign a release allowing their names and writing to appear in the volume.)

The course will be divided into two primary sections. First, students will work individually and in groups selecting, reading, and analyzing literature addressing different topics:

Then these groups will lead the rest of the class in the study of the literature of the area they have investigated. See expectations for individual research and group leadership.

We will apply tools of close reading to additional cultural texts, including young adult fiction, images, graphic novels, film, the Internet, and so on as we engage in close reading and critical viewing.

Our section is held in a special wireless, laptop classroom in 3045 Brown Hall that will accommodate a range of activities using the internet and other technologies. A blog post of approximately 300 words should be completed before every class meeting.

Because the course is discussion based, your participation is vital to your own learning and 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.

Given the experimental nature of this class, the current syllabus is provisional and will evolve with the course.

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 1100 offers free on-line therapy from Eliza!

My office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605. Office hours are Thursday from 2:00-3:50 and by appointment. You can reach me via email.


Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery by Bahaa' Taher

WMU Bookstore $5.00 Fee Card to cover expense of xerox packets of essays, poetry, short stories, etc.

6-8 additional literary works as selected by students in collaboration with the professor

Major Assignments

Blog Assignments / Participation (20%)

Paper 1: Analysis of Aunt Safiyya, 5 page minimum. Due: Sept 29 (20%)

Paper 2: Open Topic, 5 page minimum. Due: Oct 29 (20%)

Paper 3: Open Topic, 5 page miminum. Due: Nov. 26 (20%)

Final Exam

Electronic Syllabus

Sep 8 Tuesday: Introductions, Form Groups, Start Blog

1. Examine Dr. Webb's blog: Middle East Interpretations

2. Create your own blog at Blogger.com. Send URL to Dr. Webb.

Sep 10 Thursday Middle East Stereotypes

1. Read "Literature from the Modern Middle East: Making a Living Connection" (handout)

View: "Reel Bad Arabs," Trailer, Entire Film (50 mins)

Sep 15 Tuesday: Aunt Safiyya

1. Read: Chapters 1 & 2, Coptic Monasteries in Egypt

Sep 17 Thursday: Aunt Safiyya

1. Read: Chapters 3 & 4

Sep 22 Tuesday: Paper Ideas & Group Work

1. Due: 3 pages of a Rough Draft for Paper 1

Sep 24 Thursday Brief History of the Middle East & Group Work

Sep 29 Tuesday America in the Middle East & Group Work

Powerpoint: History of the Middle East

Paper 1 Due

Oct 1 Thursday Oil and Middle East & Group Work

View "Blood and Oil" Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Optional: "Blood and Oil in WWI" Part 1 (22 parts)

Oct 6 Tuesday Islam & Group Work

Group 1

Oct 8 Thursday

Oct 13 Tuesday

Oct 15 Thurs

Group 2

Oct 20 Tuesday

Paper 2 Due

Oct 22 Thursday

Oct 27 Tuesday

Group 3

Oct 29 Thursday

Nov 3 Tuesday

Nov 5 Thursday

Group 4

Nov 10 Tuesday

Nov 12 Thursday

Nov 17 Tuesday

Paper 3 Due

Group 5

Nov 19 Thursday

Nov 24 Tuesday

Nov 26 Thursday THANKSGIVING

Dec 1 Tuesday

Group 6

Dec 3 Thursday

Dec 8 Tuesday

Dec 10 Thursday

Dec 14-18: Finals Week

Dec 14 Monday 2:45 - 4:45 Scheduled Final Exam

Final List: Reading, Film, and Speakers