Arabic language instruction is available at Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges. The teaching of Arabic is a component of the three colleges’ efforts to increase the presence of the Middle East in their curricula. Bryn Mawr offers courses on the Middle East in Comparative Literature, General Studies, Anthropology, Political Science, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, and History.
First- to third-year Arabic language courses are offered each year. First-year Arabic has no prerequisites and is open to the entire student community with the exception of native speakers. These can be given placement tests and will be able to register in their respective level. Culture, film, and literature in translation courses are also offered each year and are open to all students. Students of Arabic are particularly urged to take these classes as well as other classes related to the Arab world in other departments and programs (Sociology and Anthropology, Religion, History, and Political Science) as a means of gaining perspective on classical and modern Arabic literature and culture.
Introductory and intermediate Arabic language courses are intensive and carry 1.5 credits per semester. Students should plan to take these courses as early as possible so that studying in the Arab world can be incorporated into their curriculum. Study abroad is particularly encouraged for students of Arabic; academic credit (full or partial) is generally approved for participation in the several programs of varying duration in different Arab countries and recommended by the Arabic section. These include but are not limited to universities and programs in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
Special Major and Minor in Arabic
Students may do a special major or minor in Arabic studies in both the course and honors programs. The Arabic studies special major contains components of language, literature, and culture. Study abroad is strongly encouraged and supported and contributes directly to a major or minor in Arabic studies. Students of Arabic also may choose a major in Asian studies (see under Asian studies), where Arabic language courses above the first-year level as well as Arabic literature and culture courses and credit for study abroad normally may be counted toward the major. Students interested in a special major or minor in Arabic should consult with the section head of Arabic as soon as possible.
Assistant Professor Walid Harmaneh
Lecturer Yamine Mermer
Special Major in Interdisciplinary Arabic Studies
- A minimum of 10 credits in courses numbered 003B and above.
- Mandatory completion of courses to be determined by the section based on present and anticipated offerings; at least one course or seminar on modern Arab culture/film/literature in translation and at least one course or seminar on classical Arab culture/literature in translation.
- At least 1 and up to 3 credits should be taken from other departments and programs (Sociology and Anthropology, Religion, History, Political Science, Comparative Literature, and Women’s Studies) on subjects related to Arabic and the Arab world with the approval of the Arabic section.
- Study abroad in a program approved by the section is strongly recommended; transferred credits normally may be counted toward the major.
- Minimum of 6 credits of work must be completed at Swarthmore.
- A culminating exercise or thesis.
Honors Major in Arabic Studies
Requirements for the honors major in Arabic essentially are the same as those for the special major, excepting the culminating exercise. An honors major in Arabic will consist of examinations in Arabic language, literature, and culture. Work done abroad may be incorporated where appropriate. Honors preparations in Arabic consist of 2-credit seminars, designated pairs of courses (or 1-credit attachments to designated 1-credit courses), or a 2-credit thesis. Senior honors study is mandatory and normally is done in the spring semester of the senior year. Work is arranged on an individual basis, and candidates may receive up to 1 credit for completion of the work. Honors examinations normally will consist of three 3-hour written examinations and a 30-minute oral for each examination.
Honors students of Arabic may also consider an honors major in Asian studies.
Course Minor in Arabic Studies
- A minimum of 5 credits of work in courses numbered 004B and above.
- At least two courses in classical or modern literature, culture, or film.
- A minimum of 3 credits of work must be completed at Swarthmore.
- Study abroad in a program approved by the section is strongly recommended; transferred credits normally may be counted toward the minor.
Honors Minor in Arabic Studies
It is possible to prepare for an honors minor in Arabic studies. Requirements for the honors minor in Arabic studies are essentially the same as those for the course minor. The honors preparation will consist of a 2-credit seminar or a designated pair of courses (or a 1-credit attachment to a designated 1-credit course). Senior honors study is mandatory and normally is done in the spring semester of the senior year; work is arranged on an individual basis, and candidates will have the option of receiving 0.5 credit for completion of the work. The honors examination normally will consist of one 3-hour written examination and a 30-minute oral examination.
Students of Arabic may also consider an honors minor in Asian Studies.
- 001B–002B Introduction to Modern Standard Arabic
Attieh, Abbadi, Mermer
Students who start in the 001B–002B sequence must complete 002B to receive credit for 001B.
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 comprehension), and writing. Cultural aspects are built into the course. This course as well as subsequent Arabic-language courses helps students to advance in this language rapidly and prepare them for more advanced work on literary Arabic as well as to work, travel, or study abroad. By the end of this course, most students should be expected to reach a level of intermediate low, according to ACTFL proficiency rating.
001B offered Fall 2007. 002B offered Spring 2008.
- 003B, 004B Second-Year Modern Standard Arabic
Hamarneh, Mermer, Staff
This course is designed to build on skills in comprehension, listening, reading and writing developed in earlier courses. Students will gain increased vocabulary and a greater understanding of more complex grammatical structures. They will be able to approach prose, fiction, and nonfiction written in the language. Students will also increase their proficiency in Arabic script and sound system, widen their working vocabulary, learn key grammatical concepts, and practice conversation and dictation.
This course is the continuation of 002B: Intensive Beginners Arabic. Because the material covered in this course hinges heavily on the previous course, students are expected to review and be familiar with the previous lessons they took in ARAB 001B and 002B. After each new lesson, students are advised to thoroughly go over drills taken; not reviewing the lesson may hinder students' progress and understanding of subsequent lessons. Students are also encouraged to read in advance the lesson that is to be taken in the next class.
003B offered Fall 2007. 004B offered Spring 2008.
- ARAB 011 Third-Year Arabic
ARAB 012 Advanced Arabic
These are two-term courses designed to (1) conduct a quick review of the basic structures, grammar, and the first 1,000 most frequent words of modern standard Arabic (MSA) learned in earlier courses, (2) introduce the next 1,500 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 high to advanced levels on the ACTFL scale.
011 offered Fall 2007. 012 offered Spring 2008.
- 027 Writing Women in Modern Arabic Fiction (Cross-listed as LITR 027)
The main aim of the course is to trace the shifts and changes in the constructions of women as literary characters in the modern fiction of the Arab world within the context of changing social, political, and cultural conditions. As the emphasis is on the literary institution itself we will start with readings by two seminal male writers. Al-Hakim exemplifies the by now well-known and contradictory image of the woman/mother/nation or homeland, while Mahfuz shifted to a more nuanced construction of women characters that is in tandem with his conceptions of the novel as a realistic genre. With the second half of the 20th century and the quick shifts within the institutions of the Arabic novel, women writings became central to the institution itself and contributed greatly to its transformation. The rise of new social movements and the increasing role of women in society and culture resulted in quick and somewhat radical transformations of the constructions of women in fiction mostly as a result of writings by women themselves. Most of the readings for the course will try to trace and discuss the different paths charted by women writers during the last three decades of the 20th century. We will try to cover as many parts of the Arab world as possible; however, because of the centrality of the Levant within Arab culture and literature as well as the availability of translations, the emphasis will be on Egypt and Lebanon. We will look at novels that address many issues facing women in the Arab World but also at women within the larger context of social and political challenges. We will then move to works that look at the civil war in Lebanon, which lasted for more than a decade, and examine works revolving around women during the war by women writers and end the course by examining two works related to the civil war in Lebanon, one by a woman writer who assumes the voice of a gay man during the war and one by a gay male writer who writes a first-person novel of a woman. To get a better picture of the culture and society, we will also be watching movies that discuss some of the issues facing women in Arab societies. Students will be asked to make class presentations and to write a final essay of an analytical and comparative nature. Offered in Fall 2007.