The Arab World: its Peoples, History, and Cultures Arab 305 Fall 2015

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The Arab World: its Peoples, History, and Cultures

Arab 305 -- Fall 2015
Lecturer: Samir I. Bitar, M.I.S.

(Lecturer, Arabic Language and Cultures

Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures

Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center)


Phone: (406) 243-4385

Office: 302 Stone Hall

Office Hours: Liberal Arts (LA) 430 Monday – Thursday 2-3 p.m.


Albert, H. (2002) A HISTORY OF THE ARAB PEOPLES [Required Textbook]

Azzedine, L. (2009) The Middle East [Optional]
Reading materials and Instructor's handouts

Grading will be computed on the following basis:

Papers (3): 60%

Homework /Quizzes: 20%

Presentation – Country Report: 10%

Participation and Attendance 10%


One make-up quiz per student allowed for extenuating circumstances only.

Any particular quiz cannot be made-up one week after it was given.

Extensions (for making up quizzes/handing in a paper) should be requested

in advance. Unexcused, late work will be penalized, late one day less one grade, two days 2 grades, more than five days no points.
Students are expected to attend all the lectures. If you need accommodations in this course because of a disability or if you have emergency medical information to share with me, please let me know as soon as possible. University procedures will be followed.
Course Description, Goals and Objectives:

Ahlan wa Sahlan ! Welcome to “The Arab World”.

Students explore the Arabic speaking countries, a world that stretches across North Africa, the Middle East and the peninsula. Birthplace of the world’s three monotheistic religions and home to many exceptionally diverse civilizations.
Students learn about the Arabs, inheritors of an extraordinary civilization that excelled in the areas of translation, algebra, pharmacology, experimentation, chemistry and discoveries. Arab culture is also rich in architecture, art, literature, philosophy, tradition and customs. Students develop a general understanding of a world with political, economic, cultural and religious events affecting their daily lives in America.
Students experience all of the above through discussions, illustrations, documentaries, movies, music, language and food. This course is designed for everyone interested in the topic and no previous knowledge of the Arabic language is necessary.
Instruction Schedule:

The following is an outline for the sixteen weeks of instruction; the schedule in its final format will incorporate reflections based on our initial progress and it will include all and any modified homework assignments/ due dates.

Week 1 Introductions

8-31 to 9-4 Documentary: The Arabs: Who They Are, Who They Are Not (30 minutes)

Reading: The Model Arab League:

Handout: “Who are The Arabs “

Homework: Write a two page brief on “Who are the Arabs?” due: 9/9/15
Week 2 The Middle East: Cradle of Islam

9-9 to 9-11 Reading: “Arabic Language & Middle East/North African Cultural Studies”

Homework: Write a 1 page reflection on “The Arabs make their entrance”

Documentaries: The Arabs Make their entrance ( 35 minutes)

Week 3 The Arab Muslim World

9-14 to 9-18 Reading: Hourani -Chapters 1,2-& Handout: The roots of Arab Bitterness Homework: Write a two page brief on “The roots of Arab Bitterness”

Documentary: The Historic Memory (30 minutes)

Week 4 The Arab Muslim World

9-21 to 9-25 Reading: Hourani- Chapters 3, 4, & 5

Documentary: The Bonds of Pride (30 minutes)

Homework: Work on Paper # 1

Paper #1 is due “The Arab World, historical perspectives””
Week 5 The Ottoman Era

9-28 to 10-2 Reading: Hourani- Chapters 13,14, &15

Homework: Write a one page reflection on the documentary

Documentary: The Image of God (30 minutes)

Week 6 Arabs and the West

10-5 to 10-9 Reading: Hourani- Chapters 17, 18, &19

Syria & Jordan

Documentary: Arabs and the West (30 minutes)

Homework: Write a one page reflection on the documentary
Week 7 Arab Nationalism

10-12 to 10-16 Reading: Hourani- Chapters 21,22, & 23

Homework: Write a one-page essay on “The climax of Arabism”

Presentation by Guest speaker from Syrian Heritage

Week 8 Arab Unity and Disunity

10-19 to 10-23 Reading: Hourani- Chapters 24, 25,& 26

Paper #2 is due. “ Arab Nationalism”
Week 9 Nation States

10-20 to 10-24 Egypt & Iraq

Homework: Write a one page reflection on each presentation
Week 10 Syria & Jordan

10-26 to 10-30 Review

Presentation by Guest speaker (TBA)

Homework: Write a one page reflection on each presentation

Week 11 The Gulf

11-2 to 11-6 UAE, Oman, Qatar

Country projects discussion

Week 12 Morocco

11-9 to 11-13 Presentation by Guest speaker from Morocco

Homework: Write a one page reflection on each presentation

Week 13 Palestine-Israel

11-16 to 11-20 Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Presentation

Homework: Write a one page reflection on the presentation
Week 14 Free Reading on the Palestinian/Arab-Israeli Conflict – e.g. Google

11-23 to 11-27 Search

Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Presentation

Paper #3 is due

Week 15 Review, Open discussion, and Reflections

11-30 to 12-4 Presentations by students-Country Reports

Course Evaluation

Week 16 Finals, we will meet during our scheduled final time.

Attendance is very important, it includes coming on time and it directly affects your grade. Grading will highly depend on class participation and you must attend in order to participate. Students who have 3 unexcused absences will drop one letter grade.


Students will write three papers, #1 (4-5 pgs), #2 (7-9 pgs), #3 (9-11 pgs) with one (1) inch margins, a size twelve (12) font and double-spaced in accordance with MLA manuals. The papers due dates will be specified at the beginning of the semester.


You will be given homework assignments with specified due dates, late work will be penalized. Specific dates will be laid out as we approach instruction


There will be eight (8) quizzes on the reading assignments proctored on Mondays of the following week. The 1st quiz for autumn 2013 will be on Sep. 16. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped in computing the final grade.

Office Hours:

I will be in my LA office, Room # 430 from 2:00- 3:00 Monday to Thursday and in Stone hall # 302 from 9-10 am on Fridays. Everyone is encouraged and is welcomed to come in, visit for questions or discussion and I am also available by appointment.

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