Contemporary Folklore in the Arab World

ARABIC 3301: Contemporary Folklore in the Arab World

Study of comparative folklore in the Arab world, including verbal art, material culture, visual self- presentation, and performance.

This course will introduce students to a wealth of Arabic folklore, including the lore of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Arabs as well as Berbers, Kurds and other Arab world communities. For the purposes of this course folklore will be defined as traditional expressive culture—verbal art (e.g., myths, legends, folktales, riddles, jokes), material culture (e.g. the construction of local shrines, homes, boats as well as production of pottery, jewelry, embroidery, carpets), visual presentation of self (e.g., applications of henna, tattoos, dress, hairstyles), folk religion, rituals, festivals, and folk music (e.g., lullabies). Emphasis will be not on finished products but on cultural process. Students will look at what Arab world "folk" from different regions, religions and language and ethnic traditions have in common in regard to ethos, world view, practical and aesthetic needs and how they differ. By the end of the quarter it is to be hoped that students will have an enhanced respect for the power of traditional expressive culture, as a medium for understanding the affective dimension of any culture or community, and that of the Arab world in particular. Students will be given the theoretical tools to begin to be able to study other folklore forms and folk communities in which they are interested.
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