Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
FACULTY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NEAR EASTERN LANGUAGES AND CIVILIZATIONS
Professors John Darnell, Benjamin Foster, Eckart Frahm, Dimitri Gutas, Bentley Layton (Emeritus), William Kelly Simpson (Emeritus), Shawkat Toorawa, Harvey Weiss
Lecturers Karen Foster, Christina Geisen, Enrique Jimenez-Sanchez, Agnete Lassen, Kathryn Slanski
Senior Lectors II Shiri Goren
Senior Lectors Sarab al-Ani, Muhammad Aziz, Jonas Elbousty, Dina Roginsky, Farkhondeh Shayesteh
Lectors Ozgen Felek, Orit Yeret
The major in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations is a liberal arts major that gives students a sound competence in a Near Eastern language and a broad knowledge of the literatures, civilizations, history, and archaeology of the Near East. The major also provides essential preparation for graduate or professional work in which a knowledge of Near Eastern languages, history, and archaeology is required.
Depending on the student's interests, the major is built around study of one or more Near Eastern languages, leading to a concentration in the ancient Near East (Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Syria-Palestine), in Hebrew language and literature, or in Arabic and Islamic studies.
Requirements of the major Twelve term courses in the department, or their equivalent, are required for the major, including the senior essay course. No more than six course credits from other departments may be applied toward this requirement. The course work includes at least two years of study of a Near Eastern language and no fewer than three courses in the history and civilizations of the Near East, at least one of which must be in the ancient and one in the Islamic Near East. Students should develop coherent programs of study in one of three areas of concentration:
- Ancient Near Eastern languages and civilizations, with emphasis on Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Syria-Palestine. Students interested in Mesopotamia take at least two years of Akkadian, as well as courses in the history and civilizations of the ancient Near East. Students interested in Egypt take at least two years of Egyptian, as well as courses in the history and civilizations of ancient Egypt. Students interested in Syria-Palestine take at least two years of biblical Hebrew, as well as courses in the history and civilizations of the ancient Near East.
- Hebrew language and literature. Students take two years or more of Hebrew (ancient or modern, but in any case at least two years of one period of the language), and courses in Hebrew literature, the history and civilizations of the ancient Near East, and Near Eastern Judaism.
- Arabic and Islamic studies. ARBC 120 is a prerequisite for this area and counts as one term course toward the twelve required. Students take at least two years of Arabic beyond the prerequisite, and courses selected from Arabic literature, Arab civilization, Islamic religion, Near Eastern history, and Persian or Turkish language. In their senior year, students take NELC 490, Introduction to Arabic and Islamic Studies. Majors in this area of concentration are strongly advised to begin their language training as early as possible, and certainly not later than the sophomore year. Students should consult Dimitri Gutas, 316 HGS, 432-2947.
Well-qualified students who have acquired the requisite background in undergraduate courses may, with the permission of the instructor, the director of undergraduate studies, and the director of graduate studies, be admitted to graduate courses where no suitable undergraduate courses exist. In addition, courses from such other departments and programs as Archaeological Studies, History, History of Art, Judaic Studies, Political Science, and Religious Studies, as well as college seminars, are routinely accepted for credit toward the major if they deal with Near Eastern topics.
All course schedules must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies.
Senior essay To derive full benefit from the major, students should acquire practical experience in using Near Eastern languages for research purposes. Therefore all students in the major undertake a senior essay that involves substantial use of materials in one or more Near Eastern languages. The senior essay is a research paper of at least thirty pages prepared under the supervision of a departmental faculty member. It may be written under the rubric of NELC 492 and/or 493, or as an extended seminar paper in a departmental seminar course, in which case the instructor serves as the essay adviser. The topic and a prospectus signed by an adviser are to be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies by the end of the fourth week of classes in either term of the senior year. The particular subject matter and theoretical approach of the essay are decided by the student after consultation with the faculty adviser.
In cases in which students demonstrably need more time for an extensive essay, the senior essay may be approved as a yearlong course after consultation with the adviser and the director of undergraduate studies. Only those students who have advanced language skills and whose project is considered to be of exceptional promise are eligible. The requirements for the two-term essay are the same as for the one-term essay, except that the essay should be at least sixty pages.
Languages currently offered by the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations include Akkadian, Arabic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. Students who take a foreign language during a term, year, or summer abroad must complete a departmental placement examination after they return to Yale; there are no exceptions to this requirement.
REQUIREMENTS OF THE MAJOR
Prerequisites Arabic and Islamic studies—ARBC 120; All other areas of concentration—none
Number of courses 12 term courses (incl prereq and senior essay)
Distribution of courses 2 years of a Near Eastern lang; 3 courses in Near Eastern hist and civ, incl 1 in ancient and 1 in Islamic Near East; area of concentration as specified
Specific course required Arabic and Islamic studies—NELC 490
Near Eastern History and Civilizations
Introductory and Survey Courses
* NELC 001a / AFST 001a / ARCG 001a, Egypt and Northeast Africa: A Multidisciplinary Approach John Darnell
Examination of approximately 10,000 years of Nile Valley cultural history, with an introduction to the historical and archaeological study of Egypt and Nubia. Consideration of the Nile Valley as the meeting place of the cultures and societies of northeast Africa. Various written and visual sources are used, including the collections of the Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.
* NELC 003a / HUMS 077a, Medieval Travel and Exploration Shawkat Toorawa
Introduction to the motivations for travel and exploration in the Middle Ages. For adventure, for commerce, on pilgrimage, and for conquest, travelers include Christian, Jewish, and Muslim merchants, ambassadors, scholars, geographers, explorers, sailors, and soldiers. All material in English translation. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program. HU
NELC 101b / HUMS 438b / NELC 123, Origins of Western Civilization: The Near East from Alexander to Muhammad Benjamin Foster
Cultural and historical survey of Hellenistic, eastern Roman, Parthian, Byzantine, and Sassanian empires in the Near East. Emphasis on mutual influences of Near Eastern and classical worlds, the rise of Christianity and Islam in Near Eastern contexts, and the division of East and West between conflicting ideas of unity. HU
Ancient, Classical, and Medieval
NELC 108a / ARCG 237a / HSAR 237a, Ancient Painting and Mosaics Karen Foster
Developments in wall painting, vase painting, and mosaics as seen in ancient Egypt, the Aegean Bronze Age, and the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman world. HU
NELC 112a / AFST 112a / ARCG 222a / RLST 141a, Egyptian Religion through the Ages John Darnell
Diachronic approach to topics in Egyptian religion. Religious architecture, evidence for protodynastic cults, foreigners in Egyptian religious celebrations, music and vocal expression in Egyptian religion, Re and Osiris, the Amarna interlude and the Ramesside solar religion, and the goddess of the eye of the sun. Readings in translation. HU
NELC 115a, The Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting Eckart Frahm
History of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires of the first millennium B.C.E.; how their rise and fall influenced the politics, religion, and literary traditions of biblical Israel. Topics include the role of prophecy and (divine) law, political and religious justifications of violence, the birth of monotheism, and the historical reliability of the Hebrew Bible. HU
* NELC 121b / HUMS 140b, The Hero in the Ancient Near East Kathryn Slanski
Exploration of the interaction of religion, history, and literature in the ancient Near East through study of its heroes, including comparison with heroes, heroic narratives, and hero cults in the Bible and from classical Greece. WR, HU
* NELC 168a / CLCV 260a, The Origins of Writing Christina Geisen and Agnete Lassen
Exploration of writing in the ancient Near East and the profound effects this new method of communication had on human society. Focus on Egypt and Mesopotamia, where advanced writing systems first developed and were used for millennia. none HU
NELC 191b / ARCG 218b, Ancient Ships and Maritime Archaeology Karen Foster
Introduction to the world of the ancient mariners, with special attention to new discoveries and interpretations. HU, SO
NELC 201b / ENGL 191b / LITR 318b, The Arabian Nights, Then and Now Shawkat Toorawa
Exploration of Arabian Nights, a classic of world literature. Topics include antecedents, themes and later prose, and graphic and film adaptations. HU
* NELC 231b / JDST 235b / MMES 235b / RLST 147b, Introduction to Judaism in the Ancient World Steven Fraade
The emergence of classical Judaism in its historical setting. Jews and Hellenization; varieties of early Judaism; apocalyptic and postapocalyptic responses to suffering and catastrophe; worship and atonement without sacrificial cult; interpretations of scriptures; law and life; the rabbi; the synagogue; faith in reason; Sabbath and festivals; history and its redemption. No prior background in Jewish history assumed. HU
* NELC 232b / JDST 256b / MMES 236b / RLST 400b, The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Damascus Document Steven Fraade
Study of the Damascus Document, one of the most important of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Attention to the document's place in the history of biblical interpretation and ancient Jewish law; the nature and rhetorical function of its textual practices, both narrative and legal; and its relation to the central sectarian writings of the Qumran community. Prerequisite: reading proficiency in ancient Hebrew. L5, HU
NELC 350a / HIST 350a / MMES 175a, Formation of the Islamic State, 610 –750 Adel Allouche
The development of Islamic polity and society from the rise of Islam to the rise of the Abbasid dynasty. Religious and societal changes caused by the success of Muhammad's mission; ramifications of the subsequent Arab expansion at the expense of the Byzantine and Sasanian empires. The origins of Islamic institutions; the historical development of the main religious sects and of Islamic legal thought; Western views of Islam. HU
* NELC 381a / JDST 391a / RLST 407a, Midrash Seminar: The Revelation at Sinai Steven Fraade
The giving of the Torah to Israel as seen through rabbinic eyes. Close readings of midrashic texts. Views of revelation, tradition, interpretation, law, and commandment in their literary and historical contexts. Interpretations and interpretive strategies compared and contrasted with those of other ancient biblical exegetes (Jewish and non-Jewish). Reading fluency in ancient Hebrew. L5, HU
* NELC 382a / JDST 392a / RLST 405a, Mishnah Seminar: Tractate Ta'anit on Fasting Steven Fraade
Close study of a section of the Mishnah, the earliest digest of Jewish law, treating procedures for public fasts in response to drought and other forms of collective adversity. Particular attention to the textual practices of rabbinic legal discourse in relation to its social function, and to the interplay of law and narrative. Prerequisite: reading fluency in ancient Hebrew. L5, HU
* NELC 403b / HIST 384Jb / MMES 172b, The Middle East between Crusaders and Mongols Adel Allouche
The impact of the Crusades and the Mongol conquests on the Islamic Middle East. Political, social, and economic changes in the region from the eleventh century to the middle of the fourteenth. Emphasis on the rise of new dynasties as a result of changes in the ethnic mosaic of the Middle East. WR, HU
* NELC 404b / HIST 398Jb / MMES 173b, Mamluk Egypt Adel Allouche
A study of the Mamluks, manumitted slaves initially imported to Egypt for military service who established their own rule over Egypt and Syria (1250–1517). Focus on the structure and workings of the Mamluk state. Military, political, economic, and social factors that contributed to the grandeur and, later, the decline of the Mamluk period in Egypt and its conquest by the Ottoman Turks. WR, HU
NELC 120b / AFST 221b / ARCG 221b / HSAR 234b, Egyptomania John Darnell
Conceptual underpinnings of the use of ancient Egyptian motifs in architecture, painting, sculpture, and decorative arts throughout western Europe, the Middle East, and North America from antiquity to the present. HU
NELC 155b / JDST 323b / MMES 160b / SOCY 155b, State and Society in Israel Dina Roginsky
The interplay between the state and society in Israel. Current Israeli discourse on controversial issues such as civil rights in a Jewish-democratic state, Jewish-Arab relations, and right and left politics. Issues of orthodoxy, military service, globalization, and multiculturalism in Israel. Sociopolitical changes that have taken place in Israel since the establishment of the state in 1948 and that have led to the reshaping of Israeli Zionist ideology. Hebrew knowledge is not required. HU
* NELC 164a / ARBC 194a, Politics and Aesthetics in Modern Arabic Literature Jonas Elbousty
A guided inquiry into the history and development of modern Arabic literary genres in the context of the political and cultural changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Arab world. Critical examination of the ranges of themes and techniques that exist in each genre and of the diversity and breadth of Arabic literary expressions. Arabic 150. L5, HU
* NELC 399b / EVST 399b, Agriculture: Origins, Evolution, Crises Harvey Weiss
Analysis of the societal and environmental drivers and effects of plant and animal domestication, the intensification of agroproduction, and the crises of agroproduction: land degradation, societal collapses, sociopolitical transformation, sustainablity, and biodiversity. SO
Languages and Literatures of the Ancient Near East
Students wishing to study Akkadian should consult the director of undergraduate studies.
EGYP 110a, Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian I Miriam Muller
Introduction to the language of ancient pharaonic Egypt (Middle Egyptian) and its hieroglyphic writing system, with short historical, literary, and religious texts. Grammatical analysis with exercises in reading, translation, and composition. Credit only on completion of EGYP 120. L1 RP
Students wishing to study Syriac should consult the director of undergraduate studies.
Hebrew Language and Literature
HEBR 110a, Elementary Modern Hebrew I Dina Roginsky
Introduction to the language of contemporary Israel, both spoken and written. Fundamentals of grammar; extensive practice in speaking, reading, and writing under the guidance of a native speaker. Credit only on completion of HEBR 120. L1 RP 1½ Course cr
HEBR 120b, Elementary Modern Hebrew II Orit Yeret
Continuation of HEBR 110. Introduction to the language of contemporary Israel, both spoken and written. Fundamentals of grammar; extensive practice in speaking, reading, and writing under the guidance of a native speaker. Prerequisite: HEBR 110 or equivalent. L2 RP 1½ Course cr
* HEBR 130a, Intermediate Modern Hebrew I Staff
Review and continuation of grammatical study, leading to a deeper understanding of style and usage. Focus on selected readings and on writing, comprehension, and speaking skills. Prerequisite: HEBR 120 or equivalent. L3 RP
HEBR 140b, Intermediate Modern Hebrew II Staff
Continuation of HEBR 130. Review and continuation of grammatical study leading to a deeper comprehension of style and usage. Focus on selected readings and on writing, comprehension, and speaking skills. Prerequisite: HEBR 130 or equivalent. L4 RP
* HEBR 158b / JDST 305b / MMES 168b, Contemporary Israeli Society in Film Shiri Goren
Examination of major themes in Israeli society through film, with emphasis on language study. Topics include migration, gender and sexuality, Jewish/Israeli identity, and private and collective memory. Readings in Hebrew and English provide a sociohistorical background and bases for class discussion. HEBR 140 or permission of instructor. L5, HU RP
* HEBR 160a / JDST 360a / MMES 155a, Hebrew in a Changing World Dina Roginsky
Focus on how Hebrew language is used in Israel for constructing social norms, expectations, and day-to-day experiences. Topics include gendered language, political and PC language, military language, slang, humor, dialects, accents, name-giving practices, language in a sacred and in a secular context, and Americanization of the Hebrew language. Materials include advertisements, internet forums, movie clips, skits, maps, political stickers, and newspapers. Prerequisite: HEBR 140 or permission of instructor. L5
* HEBR 162b / JDST 319b / MMES 161b, Israel in Ideology and Practice Dina Roginsky
An advanced Hebrew class focusing on changing ideology and politics in Israel. Topics include right and left wing political discourse, elections, State-Religion dynamics, the Jewish-Arab divide, and demographic changes. Materials include newspapers, publications, on-line resources, speeches of different political and religious groups, and contemporary and archival footage. Comparisons to American political and ideological discourse. Prerequisite: HEBR 140 or permission of instructor. L5 RP
Arabic and Islamic Studies
ARBC 110a, Elementary Modern Standard Arabic I Muhammad Aziz
Development of a basic knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic. Emphasis on grammatical analysis, vocabulary acquisition, and the growth of skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Credit only on completion of ARBC 120. L1 RP 1½ Course cr
ARBC 120b, Elementary Modern Standard Arabic II Staff
* ARBC 130a, Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic I Jonas Elbousty
Intensive review of grammar; readings from contemporary and classical Arab authors with emphasis on serial reading of unvoweled Arabic texts, prose composition, and formal conversation. Prerequisite: ARBC 120 or requisite score on a placement test. L3 RP 1½ Course cr
ARBC 136a, Intermediate Classical Arabic I Shawkat Toorawa
Introduction to classical Arabic, with emphasis on grammar to improve analytical reading skills. Readings include Qur'anic passages, literary material in both poetry and prose, biographical entries, and religious texts. Prerequisite: ARBC 120 or permission of instructor. May be taken concurrently with ARBC 130 or 150. L3 RP
ARBC 140b, Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic II Staff
ARBC 146b, Intermediate Classical Arabic II Shawkat Toorawa
* ARBC 150a, Advanced Modern Standard Arabic I Sarab Al Ani
Further development of listening, writing, and speaking skills. For students who already have a substantial background in Modern Standard Arabic. Prerequisite: ARBC 140 or requisite score on a placement test. L5 RP
* ARBC 151b, Advanced Modern Standard Arabic II Sarab Al Ani
* ARBC 165a / MMES 465a, Arabic Seminar Dimitri Gutas
ARBC 190a, Levantine Arabic Sarab Al Ani
Basic course in the Arabic dialect of the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine). Principles of grammar and syntax; foundations for conversation and reading. Focus on the development of speaking and listening skills using media materials (television, Internet) and social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter). The essentials of conversing, using expressions, popular idioms, and everyday phrases. Topics include cultural components. Prerequisite: ARBC 130. RP
* ARBC 471a or b, Directed Reading and Research Staff
For students who wish to pursue a topic or body of texts not available in the department's regular curriculum. Approval of the plan of study is required from both the director of undergraduate studies and a member of the department who agrees to serve as instructor. Student and instructor meet regularly throughout the term. The course culminates in either a piece of written work or a final examination.
PERS 110a, Elementary Persian I Farkhondeh Shayesteh
Introduction to modern Persian, with emphasis on all four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Credit only on completion of PERS 120. L1 RP 1½ Course cr
PERS 120b, Elementary Persian II Farkhondeh Shayesteh
PERS 130a, Intermediate Persian I Farkhondeh Shayesteh
PERS 140b, Intermediate Persian II Farkhondeh Shayesteh
* PERS 150b, Thematic Survey of Modern Persian Literature Farkhondeh Shayesteh
An advanced course focusing on continuing development of language skills for nonnative speakers. Emphasis on reading and writing through modern Persian literary prose and poetry. Prerequisite: PERS 140 or permission of the instructor. L5, HU RP
* PERS 471a or b, Directed Reading in Persian Staff
Independent study of Persian texts at an advanced level.
TKSH 110a, Elementary Modern Turkish I Ozgen Felek
Development of a basic knowledge of modern Turkish, with emphasis on grammatical analysis, vocabulary acquisition, and reading and writing skills. Credit only on completion of TKSH 120. L1 RP 1½ Course cr
TKSH 120b, Elementary Modern Turkish II Ozgen Felek
TKSH 130a, Intermediate Turkish I Ozgen Felek
Continued study of modern Turkish, with emphasis on advanced syntax, vocabulary acquisition, and the beginnings of free oral and written expression. Prerequisite: TKSH 120 or permission of instructor. L3 RP
TKSH 150a, Advanced Turkish I Ozgen Felek
An advanced language course focused on improving students' reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in modern Turkish. Extensive study of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Readings from genres including academic articles, critical essays, literature, newspaper articles, and formal business writing. Screening of films, documentaries, and news broadcasts. Prerequisite: TKSH 140. L5 RP
TKSH 151b, Advanced Turkish II Ozgen Felek
Continuation of TKSH 150. An advanced language course focused on improving students' reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in modern Turkish. Extensive study of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Readings from genres including academic articles, critical essays, literature, newspaper articles, and formal business writing. Screening of films, documentaries, and news broadcasts. Prerequisite: TKSH 150. L5 RP
* TKSH 471a, Directed Reading and Research in Turkish Ozgen Felek
For students who wish to pursue a topic or body of texts not available in the department's regular curriculum. Approval of the plan of study is required from both the director of undergraduate studies and a member of the department who agrees to serve as instructor. Student and instructor meet regularly throughout the term. The course culminates in either a piece of written work or a final examination. RP
Courses for Majors
* NELC 471a and NELC 472b, Directed Reading and Research Staff
For students who wish to pursue a topic or body of texts not available in the department's regular curriculum. Approval of the plan of study by both the director of undergraduate studies and a member of the department who agrees to serve as instructor is required. Student and instructor meet regularly throughout the term. The course culminates in either a piece of written work or a final examination.
* NELC 490a / MMES 490a, Introduction to Arabic and Islamic Studies Dimitri Gutas
Comprehensive survey of subjects treated in Arabic and Islamic studies, with representative readings from each. Methods and techniques of scholarship in the field; emphasis on acquiring familiarity with bibliographical and other research tools. Enrollment limited to senior majors in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, except by permission of instructor.
* NELC 492a and NELC 493b, The Senior Essay Jonas Elbousty
Preparation of a research paper of at least thirty pages (sixty pages for a two-term essay) under the supervision of a departmental faculty member, in accordance with the following schedule: (1) by the end of the second week of classes of the fall term, students meet with advisers to discuss the topic, approach, sources, and bibliography of the essay. Note: students planning to write the essay in the second term (NELC 493) should also meet with their prospective advisers by this deadline; (2) by the end of the fourth week of classes a prospectus with outline, including an annotated bibliography of materials in one or more Near Eastern languages and of secondary sources, is signed by the adviser and submitted to the director of undergraduate studies. The prospectus should indicate the formal title, scope, and focus of the essay, as well as the proposed research method, including detailed indications of the nature and extent of materials in a Near Eastern language that will be used; (3) at the end of the tenth week of classes (end of February for yearlong essays), a rough draft of the complete essay is submitted to the adviser; (4) two copies of the finished paper must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies, 314 HGS, by 4 p.m. on the last day of reading period. Failure to comply with the deadline will be penalized by a lower grade. Senior essays will be graded by departmental faculty unless, for exceptional reasons, different arrangements for an outside reader are made in advance with the director of undergraduate studies and the departmental adviser.
Graduate and Professional School Courses of Interest to Undergraduates
Some Graduate School courses are open to qualified undergraduates with permission of the instructor and of the director of graduate studies. For course descriptions see the Online Course Information Web site. (Also see “Courses in the Yale Graduate and Professional Schools” under “Special Arrangements” in the Academic Regulations.)