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Fall 2013 Courses

For course descriptions and updates please consult the Smith College Course Catalog.

Please be sure to consult the Five College online catalog for relevant courses offered elsewhere in the consortium. Upper level Hebrew is offered at the University of Massachusetts. Consult an adviser in advance to determine whether a course taken at another campus will count towards the minor.

Five College Center for the Study of World Languages

The Five College Center for the Study of World Languages offers a mentored language program in Turkish, Persian, and high intermediate/advanced Arabic. Courses are for self-motivated students and combine individual study and conversation sessions.


ARA 100Y Elementary Arabic

A year-long course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of the Arabic language seeking to develop strong communication skills in formal and colloquial Arabic. The course begins with a focus on reading, pronouncing and recognizing Arabic sounds and progresses quickly toward developing beginner reading, writing, speaking and listening proficiency as well as cultural competence. The course covers essential communicative skills relating to real-life and task-oriented situations (queries about personal well-being, family, work, and telling the time). Students will acquire vocabulary and usage for everyday interactions as well as skills that will allow them to read and analyze a range of texts. In addition to the traditional textbook exercises, students write paragraphs and participate in role plays, debates, presentations and conversations throughout the year. Enrollment limited to 18 students. ARA 100y may not be taken S/U. {F} Credits: 10 for full year

ARA 200 Intermediate Arabic 1

According to the ACTFL standards, this course is Intermediate Low Arabic. It covers the four skills of the language. Writers at the Intermediate level are characterized by the ability to meet practical writing needs, such as simple messages and letters, requests for information, and notes. In addition, they can ask and respond to simple questions in writing. At the intermediate level, listeners can understand information conveyed in simple, sentence-length speech on familiar or everyday topics while readers at the same level can understand information conveyed in simple, predictable, loosely connected texts. Readers rely heavily on contextual clues. They can most easily understand information if the format of the text is familiar, such as in a weather report or a social announcement. Speakers at the Intermediate level are distinguished primarily by their ability to create with the language when talking about familiar topics related to their daily life. They are able to recombine learned material in order to express personal meaning. Students should expect text assignments as well as work with DVDs, audio materials and websites. Exercises include writing, social interactions, role plays, and the interplay of language and culture. Prerequisite is ARA 100Y or the equivalent. {F} Credits: 4
Olla Al-Salchi

ARA 300 Advanced Arabic I

The goal of this course is to help students achieve an advanced level of proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic with an exposure to one Arabic colloquial variety using the four-skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) approach. Students will read within a normal range of speed, listen to, discuss and respond in writing to authentic texts by writers from across the Arab world. Text types address a range of political, social, religious, and literary themes and represent a range of genres, styles, and periods. All of these texts may include hypothesis, argumentation and supported opinions that will cover both linguistic and cultural knowledge. This course covers Al-Kitaab, Book 3, Units 1-5 in addition to extra instructional materials. Prerequisite: ARA 202, or the completion of Al-Kitaab, Book 2 or its equivalent. Students must be able to use Formal Spoken Arabic as the medium of communication in the classroom. {F} Credits: 4
Heba Arafa

Arabic 401 Media Arabic

Introduces the language of the print and the internet news media to students of Arabic seeking to reach the advanced level. It makes it possible for those students to master core vocabulary and structures typical of front-page news stories, recognize various modes of coverage, distinguish fact from opinion, detect bias and critically read news in Arabic. The course enables students to read extended texts with greater accuracy at the advanced level by focusing on meaning, information structure, language form, and markers of cohesive discourse. The course requires significant independent work and initiative. The prerequisite for MES 401 is the equivalent of three years of college-level Arabic study, or permission of the instructor. {F} Credits: 4
Mohamed Hassan

JUD 100Y Elementary Modern Hebrew

A year-long introduction to modern Hebrew, with a focus on equal development of the four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Study of Israeli song, film and short texts amplifies acquisitions of vocabulary and grammar. By the end of the year, students will be able to comprehend short and adapted literary and journalistic texts, describe themselves and their environment, express their thoughts and opinions, and participate in classroom discussions. No previous knowledge of Hebrew language is necessary. Enrollment limited to 18. May only be taken S/U with approval of the instructor and the director of Jewish Studies. {F} Credits: 10 for yearlong course.

JUD 201 Readings in Modern Hebrew Language

Continues to develop Hebrew linguistic capacities, with a focus on practical skills necessary to decipher, comprehend and translate Hebrew literature, music, film, television, and print media. Organized around topics suited to student interests and language level. Prerequisite: JUD 100y Elementary Modern Hebrew or equivalent, or permission of the instructor. {F} Credits: 4

Advanced study in Hebrew is offered at UMass or through Special Studies at Smith.


REL 245 Islamic Tradition

The Islamic religious tradition from its beginnings in seventh-century Arabia through the present day, with particular emphasis on the formative period (A.D. 600–1000) and on modern efforts at reinterpretation. Topics include Muhammad and the Qur'an, prophetic tradition, sacred Law, ritual, sectarianism, mysticism, dogmatic theology and popular practices. Emphasis on the ways Muslims in different times and places have constructed and reconstructed the tradition for themselves. {H} Credits: 4
Suleiman Mourad

REL 345 Islamic Thought: Topic: The Making of Muhammad

This seminar examines the place of prophecy in Muslim thought by analyzing historical sources for the life of Muhammad: the Qur'an, traditional and revisionist biographies, poetry, art and literature. Topics include the challenges of reconstructing the historical Muhammad, representations of his character and teachings in the traditions of Islamic theology, mysticism and sacred history, medieval European presentation of the prophet of Islam and his portrayal in modern film and fiction. The course offers students an opportunity to investigate with some sophistication questions that require careful attention to research methods, critical theory and writing. {H} Credits: 4
Suleiman Mourad


GOV 248 The Arab-Israeli Dispute

An analysis of the causes of the dispute and of the efforts to resolve it; an examination of Great Power involvement. An historical survey of the influence of Great Power rivalry on relationships between Israel and the Arab States and between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Consideration of the several Arab-Israeli wars and the tensions, terrorism, and violence unleashed by the dispute. {S} Credits: 4
Donna Robinson Divine

GOV 347 North Africa in the International System

This seminar examines the history and political economy of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria—the Maghreb—focusing on the post-independence era. Mauritania and Libya are treated, too. The seminar sets Maghrebi politics in the broader context of its regional situation within the Mediterranean (Europe and the Middle East), as well as its relationship to sub-Saharan Africa and North America. Study is devoted to: 1) the independence struggle; 2) the colonial legacy; 3) contemporary political economy; 4) post-colonial politics and society; and 5) the region's turmoil since 2011. Special attention will be devoted to the politics of Islam, the "status" of women, and democratization. {S} Credits: 4
Greg White


HST 208 The Making of the Modern Middle East

This course is designed as an introduction to the modern history of the Middle East with a focus on the 18th century to the present. We will examine the main political, economic, social, and cultural institutions and forces that have most profoundly affected events in the region. Throughout the semester, the emphasis will be on identifying the ways in which specific events and long-term processes have informed social and political realities in the Middle East. We will focus our study on a number of significant political, social, economic and cultural developments and movements, including (but not limited to): Ottoman reform; the emergence of Arab nationalism and the rise and formation of modern nation states; the role of imperialist and colonial powers in the region; regional conflicts; Islamism, and social and cultural changes, including the recent popular uprisings that have taken place throughout much of the region. {H} Credits: 4
Nadya Sbaiti

JUD 235 Perspectives on Israeli History: Topic: The History of Israeli Cinema

Surveys the development of the Israeli feature-length film, from the rise of Zionism until the present. By studying the major genres of Israeli cinema as they develop and shift over time, we gain insight into the filmic construction of Israeli society and the relationship between the politics and aesthetics of representation. Our cinematic journey explores the performance of nationality, gender, religion, ethnicity, and mass immigration on screen, the drama of Jewish/Arab and Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the impact of the Holocaust, war, militarization, and trauma. In which ways does film both construct and interrogate the founding myths and narratives that constitute Israeli national identity and collective memory? {H/A} Credits: 4
Miri Talmon

Culture (Literature, Art, Film)

FYS 186 Israel: Texts and Contexts

Explores the relationship between Zionism as the political movement that established the State of Israel and Zionism as an aesthetic and cultural revolution that sought to reinvent the modern Jew. What were the roles of literary and visual culture in the construction of Israel's founding myths and interpretations of its present realities? Focuses on efforts to negotiate the relationship between sacred and secular space; exile and homeland; the revival of Hebrew as a living language; Jews and Arabs; and Israel's founding ideals as a democratic and Jewish state. Includes consideration of prose, poetry, and film. Intended for students interested in Middle East Studies, Comparative Literature, and/or in the relationship between literature and politics. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. Credits: 4 (WI)
Miri Talmon

FRN 230 French Islam

"Islam de France" is a survey of contemporary flashpoints in the debate surrounding the place of Islam in French society. Students analyze a wide variety of new media documents including internet resources, journalistic articles and blogs, advertising, music videos, documentaries, the "khutbas" of prominent imams, legal texts, political pamphlets and posters, slam poetry, talk shows, as well as photo and video art. The italicization of "de" in "Islam de France" reflects the extent to which the question of Islam's possible roots in France has been contested: can a homegrown, European, even Republican Islamic tradition emerge in France? {L/F} Credits: 4
Mehammed Mack

SPN 250 Sex and the Medieval City

This course examines the medieval understanding of sex and the woman's body within an urban context. We will read medieval texts on love, medicine and women's sexuality by Iberian and North African scholars. We will investigate the ways in which medieval Iberian medical traditions have viewed women's bodies and defined their health and illness. We will also address women's role as practitioners of medicine, and how such a role was affected by the gradual emergence of "modern" medical institutions such as the hospital and the medical profession. Prerequisite: SPN 220 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 19. {F/L} Credits: 4
Ibtissam Bouachrine

Special Studies

MES 400 Special Studies

Admission by permission of the Program in Middle East Studies, normally for junior and senior minors in Middle East Studies, and for qualified juniors and seniors from other departments. Offered both semesters each year. Credits: 1 TO 4
Instructor: Members of the Program