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Module proposal

Proposal Form for New or Revised Modules (MA1- version 3)
For consideration by the Undergraduate Studies Committee/Sub-Faculty or Graduate Studies Committee only.
1. Title of Module:

Comparative Perspectives on Arabic Literature

2. New or Revised Module:

New module [ X]

Level: H (Honours) [ X ]
3. Date of Introduction of new module or revised version of existing module:

October 2011

4. Department Responsible for Teaching:

English and Comparative Literary Studies

Name of Module Leader:

Dr Cathia Jenainati

5. Availability/Location of module within courses:

Degree Code


Year of study

Option list



English Lit

UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C


Phil & Lit

UG 2-3

A, C


Film & Lit

UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C



UG 2-3

A, C


  1. Consultation with other Departments:

Copies of the proposal will be sent to various departments inviting feedback

7. Context:

The module has been conceived with the aim of introducing students to contemporary Fiction from the Arab world. This module fulfils the aims of our degree by filling a gap in our provision on the World Literature pathway. Although a knowledge of history and politics is not a prerequisite, yet the module aims to offer students a broad contextual understanding of the texts as well as allow for close reading of their unique narrative strategies. Comparative analysis of related texts from the Western tradition will be used / emphasised where appropriate.

8. Module Aims:

The module aims to :

  • introduce students to contemporary fiction from the Arab world

  • develop students’ knowledge of the key historical and political events in the Arab world in the 20th and 21st centuries

  • encourage students to conduct comparative analyses of the novels and relevant source-texts

  • alert students to the variety of perspectives for interpreting the set texts (including religious, social, literary, colonial, national discourses)

  • allow students to develop their particular research interest in this field by enabling them to choose a particular focus for their final piece of assessment

By the end of the module the students will have:

  • read a selection of fiction (in translation) written by Arab authors since 1900

  • discussed and engaged with various current discourses on religion, society, the nation and the West

  • chosen a particular point of emphasis and developed a research topic relevant to the set texts

  • become familiar with the key concerns of Arabic literature in the 20th and 21st centuries

  • become familiar with available perspectives on the Arab world and its cultures


(By the end of the module the student should be able to....)

Which teaching and learning methods enable students to achieve this learning outcome?

Which assessment methods will measure the achievement of this learning outcome?

Write about contemporary Arabic fiction with reference to current historical and political contexts

Seminar and workshop activities;

Oral presentation; class test; Assessed essays

Discuss a particular novel using a specific discourse (religious, national, anti-colonial, literary) and critically analyse its limitations

Seminar and workshop activities;

Oral presentation; class test; Assessed essays

Demonstrate an understanding of the influence of Western literature and culture on the Arab world

Seminar and workshop activities;

Oral presentation; class test; Assessed essays

Demonstrate an understanding of anti-Western movements in Arabic Literature

Seminar and workshop activities;

Oral presentation; class test; Assessed essays

Demonstrate a knowledge of Arabic history and culture

Seminar and workshop activities

Class test; assessed essays

Demonstrate an ability present a coherent and well informed argument to a general audience

Workshop activities

Oral presentation

Show a well developed research interest in a particular area of Arabic Literature

Individual consultations with module convenor

Oral presentation and Second assessed essay

10. Syllabus:

Units of the module:

  1. The homeland, the nation and individual space (wks 1-4)

  2. Religion and mythology (wks 5-9)

  3. Narrative experiments (wks 11-13)

  4. Women’s place and women’s space (13-20)

Term 1

Week 1 Introduction: historical and political contexts

Week 2 Hanna Mina, Fragments of Memory (1975)

Week 3 Abd al-Rahman Munif, Endings (1977)

Week 4 Elias Khoury City Gates (1981)

Week 5 Ibrahim el Koni, Annubis: A Desert Novel (2002)

Reading Week

Week 7 Ibrahim el Koni, The Seven Veils of Seth (2008)

Week 8 Naguib Mahfouz, Children of the Alley (1959)

Week 9 Naguib Mahfouz, Children of the Alley (1959)

Week 10 In-Class test (formative—unassessed)
Term 2

Week 11 Emile Habibi The Secret Life of Saeed: the pessoptimist (1974) Week 12 Nabil Saleh, The Qadi and the Fortuneteller Nabil (1996)

Week 13 Liana Badr, The Eye of the Mirror (1991)

Week 14 Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley (1947)

Week 15 Mansoura ez Eldin, Maryam’s Maze (2007)

Reading Week

Week 17 Miral Al Tahawy, Gazelle Tracks: A Modern Arabic Novel (2008) Week 18 Nawal el Saadawi, The Fall of the Imam

Week 19 Hanan el Sheikh The Story of Zahra (1980)

Week 20 Hamdy El Gazzar Black Magic (2007)

Term 3

Week 21 Oral presentations on research papers

Week 22 Oral presentations on research papers

11. Illustrative Bibliography:

    • Allen, Roger, The Arabic Novel: An Historical Introduction (Manchester, MUP, 1995) 

    • Badawi, M. M. (ed.), Modern Arabic Literature: Cambridge History of Arabic Literature (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992)

    • Beyerl, Jan, The Style of the Modern Arabic Short Story (Prague, Charles University Press, 1971) 

    • Brugman, J., An Introduction to the History of Modern Arabic Literature (Lieden, Brill, 1984) 

    • Bullata, Isa (ed.), Critical Perspective on Modern Arabic Literature (New York, Three Continents Press, 1980) 

    • S. Hafez, The Genesis of Arabic Narrative Discourse: A Study in the Sociology of Modern Arabic Literature (London, Saqi Books, 1993) 

    • Jameson, Fredric, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (London, Methuen, 1981) 

    • Martin, Wallace, Recent Theories of Narrative (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1986).

    • Moosa, Matti, The Origins of Modern Arabic Fiction (Washington, Three Continents Press, 1983) 

12. Teaching:

Lectures per week

Seminars per week

1.5 hr x 20 weeks

Total contact hours

30 hours

Module duration (weeks, if applicable)

22 weeks (incl. reading weeks)

13. Assessment Methods:

Type of assessment


% weighting

Oral presentation

15 minutes


1 assessed essay +

4,000 words


1 assessed essay OR

1 exam

5,000 words




Signature of Module Leader:

­­ Cathia Jenainati Date 9 Dec 2010
Signature of Chair of Department:

Catherine Bates Date 9/12/10

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