Contemporary Middle Eastern Literatures

Course Outline:

The twenty-first century has seen the emergence of Middle Eastern literature in English and translation into English as one of the most exciting new areas of world literature. This is partly due to the topical interest of a region that has experienced, so far this century, the ‘war on terror’; the ‘Arab Spring’ with its wintery aftermath; civil war; sectarian violence; the rise and fall of ‘ISIS’; and a mass refugee crisis. These events provide settings for a body of work that is also of literary interest. While creative work helps to illuminate national, regional and global contexts, it is only ever partly shaped by politics. On this course we will explore questions of production and reception, as well as the historical and social concerns that shape contemporary Middle Eastern literature; the representational work that it does; and reasons for its growing international visibility. We will study novels, memoirs, short stories, and drama, in English/translation into English, from the wider region, with a particular emphasis on the Arab world. No prior knowledge is needed.