The purpose of this course is to study the cultural frame of reference in the Near (and Middle) East as revealed by the various literatures of the region. Literature reflects the values, beliefs, concerns, aesthetics, relationships, and rationales of the cultural group in which it arose; thus some of the thought processes that students in this course wil encounter will differ from their own. Yet, as human beings, people share similar basic needs, desires, emotions; thus students will also find much that is familiar.
Through the study of the literatures in this course, the students will develop a better understanding of an important area of the world. This understanding will help them to see value in perspectives on life that are simultaneously simlar to and different from their own. "Access to knowledge and peoples' ideas reduces the possibilty of conflict and increases the possibility of cooperation between peoples on the basis of mutual consent....(Thus) the diversity of nations and their cultures will continue to enrich the wold" (Center for World Indigenous Studies).
The literatures to be studied in this course will include some that have their roots in antiquity: Turkish Armenian, Iranian (Persian), Israeli, and Arabic (including selections from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan). The course will also inlcude samples of literature from Fourth World peoples of that area such as the Kurdish nation.