About the Course
This 2000-level course delves into the multicultural world of myth in modern and pre-modern Arabic literature (in translation), bringing it in dialogue with important texts from other cultures. It discusses how myths of different origins (Ancient Near East, Ancient Arabia, Iran, India, Judeo-Christian traditions) have been reinterpreted and used in Arabic-speaking cultures from the 6th until the 21st century, to deal with questions such as the struggle of people against gods, their defiance against fate, their quest for salvation, their pursuit of a just society, or their search for identity. It shows that myth is widely employed in Arabic literature even today to reflect on contemporary issues such as Arab feminism, the war in Iraq, or the plight of refugees. It explores various genres of Arabic literature from the Qur’an, the hadith (i.e., prophetic sayings), classical poetry, medieval prose and travel literature, 1001 Nights, Egyptian shadow theater, and modern Arabic literature, placing them side by side with pieces from other cultures. In this way, it presents Arabic literature as global, rooted in different ancient traditions and dealing with the perennial questions of humanity.