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 acute topical interest of a region that has experienced, so far this century, the ‘war on terror’; revolution; civil war; sectarian violence; the rise of ‘ISIS’; and a mass refugee crisis. These events provide settings for a body of work that is also, however, of intrinsic 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 some of the aesthetic traditions, as well as 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, short stories, poetry and drama, in English/translation into English, from a region that encompasses the Arab world, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.