LIT303: FEMINISM IN ARABIC LITERATURE
Offered: 2022 Term 2. Eight consecutive sessions per Term. First class meets Wednesdays beginning 11 May 2022, 6:30-8:00pm, and the last class meets on Wednesday 29 June 2022.
Location: EarthDiverse, 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (see map below under Location tab), on-line via Zoom, or through video recordings of our live-streamed sessions posted 1-2 days after each class.
“What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?” (Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories)
This course is intended as an introduction to Arabic literature, beginning with Pre-Islamic poetry and the influence of the desert on imagery and themes, to the Arabian Nights full of magic and intrigue, probably the earliest known example of magical realism, moving to the modern novel and voices of protest, to contemporary women writing overseas about the homeland they’ve lost and about their attempt to adapt and find new identity. The course will challenge the stereotyping of Middle Eastern women, and outline the injustices and challenges they face at home and abroad.
Individual sessions focus on:
- Week 1: Pre-Islamic Poetry: The Seven Golden Odes:The Mu’allaqat or Seven Golden Odes were hung on the walls of Ka’aba during poetry festivals in Mecca. They were considered the greatest epic poems ever. We will focus on the poem of Amrolkais where he mourns the loss of his beloved woman and his unrequited love. This is intended to challenge the preconceptions about relationships and love poetry in an era where power, honor, and tribal values were paramount.
- Week 2: The Arabian Nights: Tales from A Thousand and One Nights: Translated into English for the first time in 1706, the Arabian Nights seem to offer stereotyping of males as despotic, cruel, and weak while women are seductive, beautiful and sexually available or otherwise submissive and hidden behind closed doors in their harem. Under closer scrutiny however Scheherezade the storyteller might prove to be the first feminist in Arabic literature.
- Weeks 3 & 4: Modern Arabic Novel: Naguib Mahfouz and The Cairo Trilogy: The first Arabic winner of the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1988. These three novels focus on three generations of the same family living in Cairo from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War. They depict the patriarchal hierarchy in a typical Egyptian family as well as the social and political circumstances in an era of occupation, tensions and war during which the second and third generation grow, and the diverse political currents that evolved in the first half of the 20th century in Egypt.
- Week 5: Poetry of Protest: Nizar Qabbani’s Journal of an Indifferent Woman. Banned in several Arab countries, Nizar Qabbani revolutionized Arabic poetry and introduced the form of free verse and the first half of the 20th century. He wrote his poetry of protest on the liberation of women, women’s rights, and he also wrote political poetry criticizing the Arab regimes.
- Week 6: Arabic Short Story: (TBA).
- Week 7: Women’s rights or their absence in the Middle East: Fadia Faqir’s My Name is Salma. Salma is a peasant girl from the Levant, honour-killing is a real danger against her own life. However, when she seeks asylum, she loses all.
- Week 8: Diasporic Voices mourning the loss of homeland: Heather Raffo’s Noura. For refugees and asylum seekers at the Mahjar safety comes at a very heavy price.
Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course.
Distance Learning: This course has distance-learning options for those unable to attend the live class sessions in Hamilton. Students have three options for attending our courses once they have registered:
- attend in-person classes in our Hamilton classrooms at the regularly scheduled day and time,
- attend our live on-line classroom sessions via Zoom at the regular scheduled day and time,
- watch the live-recorded class sessions at your leisure, at a time, day and place more suited to your schedule.
These options can be mixed and matched throughout the course to suit your own availability and location.
Dr Leen Al-Hadban, PhD, is originally from Iraq, and her mother tongue is Arabic. She came to New Zealand to do her PhD in English Literature and ended up staying in beautiful Aotearoa. Leen is passionate about women’s rights, education and comparative literature, she enjoys working with learners and assisting them in their learning. She also works with Arab refugees and migrants as an interpreter/translator. She considers language diversity a significant bridge connecting people from different ethnicities and views literature and education as important tools in the fight against racism, and the progression of women’s rights. Leen teaches the Arabic Literature courses for EarthDiverse (beginning in 2021 Term 3). When Leen is not interpreting for the Arab community in Hamilton, there is a good chance that she is hiding somewhere with a book, or getting her hands dirty doing pottery!
In addition to our in-person classes in Hamilton, our courses offer distance learning options for those unable to attend classes in-person. Live-streamed Hamilton classes are available via free Zoom software for those living outside the Waikato. Live-streaming allows you to participate fully in your own learning, ask questions of the instructor and participate fully in the same way as if you were in the physical classroom.
Those unable to attend the scheduled date and time of the actual class sessions, or those who need to miss a class or two due to previous engagements or unexpected illness, can watch any or all of the live-recorded video sessions on their computers, laptops, tablets or mobile devices and study at their own pace and in their own time.
Detailed instructions on how to access our distance learning components will be sent after completing your registration. There are no additional fees for this service. However, distance learners will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with a good quality web-camera (tablet devices and mobile phones can also access our live-streamed classes), a built-in microphone (most modern laptops have built-in microphones) or a headset with a microphone. You will also need to download and install the free Zoom software on your computer or device. Those accessing the video recordings will be able to do so with a simple web browser on any device.
- Detailed Syllabi are available at the start of each Term.
- Any Term can be taken independently of the others, and there are no prerequisites for any of the Term courses.
- This class has no assignments, quizzes, tests or exams.
- Some preparation however is required for familiarising yourself with the short stories, myths and texts prior to each course session.
- Sources for accessing and reading these are provided each week, either via PDF or web-based URL for on-line reading, downloading or printing at home.
- You will not need to purchase any reading materials.
- All classes encourage questions and group discussion.
- PDF copies of each class presentation are emailed to all participants the next day so that you are free to focus on class content rather than taking notes. You are most welcome to come, sit back, relax, take part in and enjoy the discussions!
- Course fees include a short tea/coffee/snack break in the middle of each session.
- There are no refunds for missed classes.
- Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge.
- Certificates of Completion for any particular Term Course or Series are available for Professional Development purposes upon request at the end of each Term or Series.
Cost per person per Term (8 classes):
- Waged: $150 (includes GST + online registration fee)
- Unwaged (unemployed, students, seniors): $125 (includes GST + online registration fee)
Prices for Waged and Unwaged registrants remain the same regardless of your chosen method for accessing our courses. This means that you have the option to mix and match access between attending our regularly-scheduled live class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms, accessing our live class sessions on-line via Zoom at the regularly scheduled class meeting time (no matter where you are located), or watching the video-recorded sessions anywhere at a time and date of your choosing. This allows you to study at your own pace and in your own time.
Once registered, you have three choices for attending your course:
- attend our in-person class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms,
- Zoom in to our live classroom sessions and participate in discussions,
- access the live-recorded class sessions each week. This allows you to register for an entire course, even though the scheduled class session day/time may not be suitable to your schedule. You may also use this option to watch any recorded session for review, or in case you may miss a class session due to prior engagement, being away, or due to illness. This allows you to catch up with any “missed” sessions at a more suitable time.
Once registered, you will receive detailed instructions on how to access our courses via either of the distance-learning options, i.e. live access via Zoom, or watching the video-recorded sessions.
LOCATION: All in-person classes are held at the EarthDiverse offices and classrooms located at 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (located just north of the Hamilton Central Bus Station) (entrance is located on the side of the building, see map below). Those looking for parking for our evening classes can park just in front of the building in any of the available car parks. Daytime parking can be found in our dedicated car parks, or free 2-hour on-street daytime parking can be found just in front on Anglesea Street.
DISTANCE LEARNING: You get to choose your location when you Zoom in to our live classroom sessions, or access our classes at your leisure and at a time and day of your choosing by watching the video recorded sessions from each class. This allows you to study at your own pace.