Knowledge of Arabic contributes not only to our geopolitical connectivity with Arabic speaking countries; it also contributes to the interdisciplinary program of studies in Islamic studies and to students' work in programs in anthropology, comparative literature, history, linguistics, religion, sociology, and other fields. Study of Arabic language through the third year and study abroad are particularly recommended for students who want to develop proficiency for research or fieldwork. Interested students are urged to begin studying the language early in their academic careers, to have time to develop a useful level of language proficiency and to be prepared to study in an immersive program abroad.
First-, second-, and third-year Arabic are offered every year; first-year Arabic has no prerequisites and is open to everyone except native speakers. Native or heritage speakers of Arabic should consult with the Arabic faculty for placement. Courses in literature in translation, culture, and film, when available, are also open to all students. Students of Arabic language are urged to take these courses and others related to the Arab world in Islamic studies, sociology and anthropology, history, political science, and religion to gain perspective on classical and contemporary Arabic culture.
Introductory and Intermediate Arabic are intensive courses that carry 1.5 credits per semester. Study abroad is particularly encouraged for students of Arabic; academic credit (full or partial) is generally approved for participation in programs recommended by the Arabic section. These include, but are not limited to universities and non-university programs in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
Courses in Arabic Language, Literature, and Culture
As a Tri-College language program, Arabic is offered at the first- and second-year level at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford Colleges. Third-year Arabic language, other advanced language courses, and introductory courses in Arabic literature and culture are offered at Swarthmore. Other courses are available at the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the Philadelphia area.
The Academic Program
Coursework in Arabic can be part of a special major or a special honors major, as well as part of a major or minor in comparative literature.
Arabic is a central component of Swarthmore's Islamic Studies program, an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the diverse range of lived experiences and textual traditions of Muslims as they are articulated in various countries and regions throughout the world.
Arabic is also a valuable addition to programs in Humanities and the Social Sciences and can be part of the major in Languages and Linguistics, through the Linguistics Department.
Students may arrange to do a special major or an honors special major in Arabic after consultation with faculty in Arabic and the department chair. Work abroad will be incorporated when appropriate. Independent study or courses at the University of Pennsylvania will usually be necessary for this special major.
Application Process Notes for the Major or the Minor
Applicants for a Special Major in Arabic must consult with the Arabic section head and be approved by the relevant faculty members and the department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
International Baccalaureate Credit
Students presenting IB credit in Arabic language or literature should consult with the faculty in Arabic.
The Arabic faculty will assist students in estimating credit for study of Arabic language and related topics abroad. Transfer credit (from study abroad or from courses taken at other institutions in North America) will be evaluated after students return to campus.
Study abroad is crucial to gaining proficiency in Arabic because it allows immersion and significant cultural exposure, especially important given the longer time needed to acquire a language less similar to English. Modern Standard Arabic is the official or co-official language of Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In addition to the Arab countries, large numbers of Arabic speakers live in Iran and France (about 600,000 speakers each), and Turkey (about one million), and a substantial number of speakers live in Israel and in parts of Africa. Students are urged to consult closely with the faculty in Arabic as well as the Off-Campus Study Office in planning study abroad.
Research and Service-Learning Opportunities
Academic Year Opportunities
Arabic participates in the Modern Languages and Literatures Service-Learning Pedagogy course, and several students have taught Arabic in the local elementary school. Some study abroad programs can arrange internships or other kinds of special opportunities for students.
Like other programs in the Humanities, Arabic welcomes student proposals for guided summer research and will advise students applying for a Humanities Research Fellowship at the College.
Life After Swarthmore
Career possibilities that utilize foreign language skills parallel the opportunities of liberal arts graduates in general, but with a stronger focus on international or multicultural aspects. Obvious career paths for Arabic Special Majors are the professions in which foreign language is a primary skill-language teaching, translation and interpretation, or working with non-governmental agencies (NGOs). But as communication, travel, and business endeavors have expanded in the global marketplace, now even relatively small organizations may need to communicate with partners, clients, or customers in other languages, in the U.S. as well as in other countries.
Students who start in the 001-002 sequence must complete 002 to receive credit for 001.
The purpose of this course is to develop students' proficiency and communication in modern standard Arabic in the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading (both oral and for comprehension), and writing. Cultural aspects are built into the course. This course as well as subsequent Arabic-language courses helps students to advance rapidly in this language and prepares them for more advanced work on literary Arabic, as well as to work, travel, or study abroad. By the end of this course, the majority of students should be expected to reach a level of intermediate low, according to the ACTFL proficiency rating.
Fall 2012. Attieh, El Guabli.
Spring 2013. Attieh, El Guabli.
This course builds on skills in comprehension, listening, reading and writing developed at earlier levels. Students will gain increased vocabulary and understanding of more complex grammatical structures. They will begin to approach prose, fiction, and non-fiction written in the language. Students will also increase their proficiency in the Arabic script and sound system, widen their working vocabulary, learn key grammatical concepts, and practice conversation and dictation.
Fall 2012. Al-Masri, El Guabli.
This course is the continuation of ARAB 003. Because the material covered in this course relies heavily on the previous course, students are expected to review and be familiar with the previous work in Arab 001, 002 and 003.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
Prerequisites: ARAB 003 or equivalent or permission of the department.
Spring 2013. Staff, El Guabli.
This course will: (1) conduct a quick review of the basic structures, grammar, and the 1000 most frequent words of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) learned in earlier courses, (2) introduce the next 750 high frequency words in a variety of contexts with strong cultural content, (3) drill students in the more advanced grammatical structures of MSA, and (4) train students in developing reading skills that will assist them in comprehending a variety of MSA authentic reading passages of various genres and performing reading tasks ranging from Intermediate to Intermediate High on the ACTFL scale. Prerequisites: Successful completion of ARAB 004 and consent of the instructor.
Fall 2012. Al-Masri.
A conversation course concentrating on the development of intermediate skills in speaking and listening through texts and multimedia materials in Modern Standard Arabic. The aim of the course is for the student to acquire well-rounded communication skills and socio-cultural competence. The selected materials seek to stimulate students' curiosity and engagement with the ultimate goal of awakening a strong desire to express themselves in the language. Students are required to read chosen texts (including Internet materials) and prepare assignments for discussion in class. Moreover, students will write out skits or reports for oral presentation in Arabic before they present them in class. The class is conducted entirely in Arabic. The class may be divided into smaller groups if needed to facilitate conversation.
Prerequisite: For students who have taken or are presently taking ARAB 011 or the equivalent.
Fall 2012. El Guabli.
This course will: (1) conduct a quick review of the basic structures, grammar, and the first 1750 most frequent words of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) learned in earlier courses, (2) introduce the next 750 high frequency words in a variety of contexts with strong cultural content, (3) drill students in the more advanced grammatical structures of MSA, and (4) train students in developing reading skills that will assist them in comprehending a variety of MSA authentic reading passages of various genres and performing reading tasks ranging from Intermediate to Intermediate High on the ACTFL scale.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of ARAB 011 and consent of the instructor.
Spring 2013. Al-Masri.
A conversation course concentrating on the development of advanced skills in speaking and listening through texts and multimedia materials in Modern Standard Arabic. The aim of the course is for students to acquire well-rounded communication skills and socio-cultural competence. The selected materials seek to stimulate students' curiosity and engagement with the ultimate goal of awakening a strong desire to express themselves in the language. Students are required to read chosen texts (including Internet materials) and prepare assignments to generate discussion in class. Moreover, students will write out skits or reports for oral presentation in Arabic before they present them in class. The class is conducted entirely in Arabic. The class may be divided into smaller groups if the needed to facilitate conversation.
Prerequisite: For students who have taken or are presently taking ARAB 012 or the equivalent.
Spring 2013. El Guabli.
(Cross-listed as EDUC 072)
Students can serve the Swarthmore community by teaching a foreign language to local elementary school students in an after-school program that meets two times/week. Students must teach for the entire 6-week session, two days per week. During the evening pedagogy sessions held on campus, we will discuss writing weekly lesson plans, foreign language acquisition in children, teaching methodologies and approaches. We use a common goal-oriented curriculum among all the languages. Students must register for the language or educational studies course that they will be teaching and for a service time (A) M/W or (B) T/Th.
Fall 2012, spring 2013. Staff.
(Cross-listed as LITR 020A)
This course presents an overview of the development of literature in the Arabic language, from the pre-Islamic period and early Muslim writings through the flowering of Al-Andaluz, the Nahda that followed the Ottomanperiod, and the rise of new Arab states to the brilliant creativity of contemporary novelists.
The course is taught in English translation, though students with sufficient skills in Arabic are welcome to do some or all of the reading in the original.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
Not offered 2012-2013, next offered in 2013-2014.
(Cross-listed as LITR 045A)
This survey course will trace some of the main themes, problems and issues debated among Arab thinkers and intellectuals since the latter part of the 19th century. The course will start with the 19th century but emphasize discussions following the military defeat of 1967 and the ensuing cultural and political crisis. Within this discussions related to "turath" (Islamic tradition or heritage), the different strategies of its reading and interpretation, and the possibilities of using these readings of Islam to confront the contemporary challenges will be the center of attention in the course. Readings for the course will comprise three types of texts: historical and social background, translations of texts by the different thinkers under discussion, and articles and essays that interpret and critique these thinkers.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
Not offered 2012-2013.
Not offered 2012-2013.
(Cross-listed as LITR 076AF and FREN 076)
This course examines the literary production by Arab women in the context of nationalism, and political struggles against neo-colonialism and imperialism. We will move beyond the gendered terms that often frame the interest regarding Arab women, and lead to a discourse of victimization, to focus on how women writers articulate their subjectivities and agency through innovative aesthetics. How have specific Arab women writers successfully challenged societal roles? Can their aesthetics disrupt narratives of violence of the civil wars? How do they negotiate with imperialist gendered fantasies and the trafficking in exotic images? And how does Arab feminism differ from Western feminist discourse on Arab women? Sources include short stories, novels, memoirs and polemical essays spanning from North Africa to the Middle East. Taught in English.
Eligible for ISLM and GSST credit.
Fall 2012. Attieh, Gueydan.