HANSJAKOB WERLEN, Professor and Acting Chair
ELEONORE BAGINSKI, Administrative Coordinator

KHALED AL-MASRI, Assistant Professor
BENJAMIN SMITH, Visiting Instructor
AHMED MUHAMED, Visiting Lecturer

Language Resource Center
MICHAEL JONES, Language Resource Center Director
ALEXANDER SAVOTH, Language Resource Center Technologist


Knowledge of Arabic contributes not only to our geopolitical connectivity with Arabic speaking countries; it also contributes to students’ work in the interdisciplinary program of Islamic studies and 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, 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 Arab 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.

Special Major

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.

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.

Transfer Credit

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.

Off-Campus Study

Study abroad is crucial to gaining proficiency in Arabic because it allows immersion and significant cultural exposure Studying Arabic in an environment where it is widely spoken exposes the student to natural language use outside the classroom. 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. Large numbers of Arabic speakers also live in Iran and France (about 600,000 speakers each), and Turkey (about one million) 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.

Summer Opportunities
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, with a strong 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 organizations (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. Arab literature is one of the world’s great traditions, and learning to read it will bring lifelong enjoyment.


ARAB 001–002. Intensive Elementary Modern Standard Arabic

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. These courses as well as subsequent Arabic-language courses help students to advance rapidly in the language and prepare them for more advanced work in literary Arabic, as well for employment, travel, or study abroad. By the end of this sequence, the majority of students are expected to reach a level of intermediate low, according to the ACTFL proficiency rating.

ARAB 001.

1.5 credits.
Fall 2013. Smith, Staff.

ARAB 002.

1.5 credits.
Spring 2014. Smith, Staff.

ARAB 003. Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic I

This course builds on skills in comprehension, listening, reading, writing, and speaking 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, and widen their cultural and historic knowledge of the Arab World and the modern Middle East.
1.5 credits.
Fall 2013. Al-Masri, Staff.

ARAB 004. Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic II

This course is a 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.
1.5 credit.
Prerequisites: ARAB 003 or equivalent or permission of the department.
Spring 2014. Smith, Staff.

ARAB 011. Advanced Arabic I

This course will: (1) conduct a quick review of the basic structures, grammar, and vocabulary learned in earlier courses, (2) introduce new vocabulary in a variety of contexts with strong cultural content, (3) drill students in the more advanced grammatical structures of MSA, and (4) train students reading skills that will assist them in comprehending a variety of MSA authentic reading passages of various genres from Intermediate to Intermediate High on the ACTFL scale. Prerequisites: Successful completion of ARAB 004 and consent of the instructor.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. Al-Masri.

ARAB 011A. Arabic Conversation

A conversation course concentrating on the development of intermediate skills in speaking and listening through the use of texts and multimedia materials in Modern Standard Arabic. The aim of this course is for the student to acquire well-rounded communication skills and socio-cultural competence. The selected materials seek to stimulate students’ curiosity with the 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. This class is conducted entirely in Arabic.
Prerequisite: For students who have taken or are presently taking ARAB 011 or the equivalent.0.5 credit.
Fall 2013. Staff.

ARAB 012. Advanced Arabic II

This course is a continuation of ARAB 011 and all previous course in the sequence. This course will begin with a quick review of advanced grammatical structures and vocabulary. Students will continue to encounter a wide range of authentic texts and audiovisual materials to enhance their competency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, with a special emphasis on vocabulary building.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of ARAB 011 and consent of the instructor.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
1 credit.
Spring 2014. Al-Masri.

ARAB 012A. Advanced Arabic Conversation

A conversation course concentrating on the development of intermediate skills in speaking and listening through the use of texts and multimedia materials in Modern Standard Arabic. The aim of this course is for the student to acquire well-rounded communication skills and socio-cultural competence. The selected materials seek to stimulate students’ curiosity with the 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. This class is conducted entirely in Arabic.
Prerequisite: For students who have taken or are presently taking ARAB 012 or the equivalent.
0.5 credit.
Spring 2014. Staff.

ARAB 013A. Foreign Language Teaching and Pedagogy

(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.
0.5 credit.
Spring 2014. Staff.

ARAB 020. Arab Literature in Its Cultural Context

(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 Ottoman period, and the rise of new Arab states to the brilliant creativity of contemporary novelists.
This 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.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014.

ARAB 021. Introduction to Modern Arab Literature

This course surveys the major writers, trends, themes, and experiences in Arabic literature from the 19th century to the present. Beginning with the nahda (the Arab renaissance), we will explore the impact of intellectual debates and developments on the emergence of modern Arabic literature. Through the study of a variety of different texts and authors, from a range of geographies and periods, we will investigate diverse literary and cultural narratives. Common themes, such as the negotiation of modernity and tradition, social and political transformation, and the changing role of women, will provide a structure for comparison. All readings will be in Arabic.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. Al-Masri.

ARAB 022. Discourses of Oppression in Contemporary Arabic Fiction

Designed to meet the needs of students who have completed ARAB 021: Introduction to Modern Arab Literature, this course provides an in-depth look at the major fictional representations of the institutionalized and non-institutionalized sites and structures of oppression explored by Arab writers.  Subtle and overt forms of political oppression are investigated, as well as experiences of hegemony related to gender, sexuality, class, religion, and ethnicity.  This course also examines the ways in which oppression is rethought, restructured, and challenged in Arabic fiction, leading to new understandings and possibilities in reality.  This course is conducted entirely in Arabic. 
1 credit.
Spring 2014. Al-Masri.

ARAB 025. War in Arab Literature and Cinema

(Cross-listed as LITR 025A)
This course will explore literary and cinematic representations of war in the Arab world, focusing on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the Lebanese Civil War, and the Iraq wars. We will look at poetry, fiction, memoir, prison narratives, film and experimental texts. Through the examination of a variety of experiences, genres, and perspectives, we will ask questions like, How do narratives of war contribute to the formation of national, local and Arab identities? How has the experience of war impacted understandings of religion, masculinity, gender, and domestic violence? We will identify common themes and images and investigate how these patterns change and develop in different spatial and temporal contexts.
Eligible for ISLM and PEAC credit.
1 credit.
Spring 2014. Al-Masri.

ARAB 029. Arabs Write the West

(Cross-listed as LITR 029A)
Drawing on historical, fictional, and autobiographical narratives, this course investigates Arab representations of the Occident. These texts explore cultural encounters, both at home and abroad, border crossings, hybridity, experiences of colonialism and neocolonialism, the psychology of Orientalism and Occidentalism, processes of assimilation and resistance, and the question of contact zones. Differences in geography, period, context, and positionality will provide a variety of perspectives on the theme. Works by Abd Al-Rahman Al-Jabarti, Rifa‘a Al-Tahtawi, Yahya Haqqi, Sulaiman Fayyad, Tayyib Salih, Leila Ahmed, and Fadia Faqir will be discussed. This course is taught in English.
Eligible for ISML credit.
1 credit.
Next offered 2014–2015. Al-Masri.

ARAB 030. Literature of Resistance

(Cross-listed as LITR 030A)
This course explores Arabic texts that take a stand against contemporary political, social, or economic realities. Fiction and non-fiction accounts as well as poetry will be investigated alongside experimental contemporary genres and blogs to uncover the different ways in which Arabs are attempting to rewrite the world around them. The theme of resistance – against colonialism, state oppression, social codes, and literary norms – will shape our discussions. New narratives inspired by the Arab uprisings will receive special focus. This course is taught in English.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
1 credit.
Next offered 2014–2015. Smith.

ARAB 045. Contemporary Thought in the Arab World

(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. 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 contemporary challenges will be the center of attention in the course. Readings will comprise three types of texts: those providing historical and social background, translations by the different thinkers under discussion, and articles and essays that interpret and critique these thinkers.
Eligible for ISLM credit.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014.

ARAB 054. Cinema in the Arab World

1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014.

ARAB 076. Contemporary Arab Women Writers

(Cross-listed as LITR 076AF and FREN 076)
This course examines the literary and cultural production of Arab women in the context of nationalism, and political struggles against neo-colonialism and imperialism. We will survey the history of Arab women’s writing as well as the development of a variety of Arab and Islamic feminisms. This course will focus on how women writers articulate their subjectivities and agency through innovative aesthetics. Sources include short stories, novels, memoirs and polemical essays covering a range of geographies and periods by writers like Zeinab Fawwaz, Latifa al-Zayyat, Nawal El Saadawi, Fadwa Tuqan, Fatema Mernissi, Leila Ahmed, Hanan al-Shaykh, and Alawiyya Subuh. Taught in English.
Eligible for ISLM and GSST credit.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014.

ARAB 093. Directed Reading