Course Detail

195:337: Literature and Memory in the Arab World

  • SAS Core Requirement: AHp, AHo

Cultural memory studies are legally dominated by western discourses of remembrance. Scholarly attempts to come to terms with the dark side of the twentieth century at times overshadow our accounts of non-western pasts. This course opens up avenues for exploring the nexus between conflicts and memory in the Arab world. We will explore the oft-silenced memory narratives of Arab writers caught in the flux of upheaval for more than a century. Can we formulate a discourse of memory that is both unique to the Arabic literary heritage and versatile in its application to modern times? How do Arab writers and artists engage and or create memory narratives in times of war? How does fiction recreate, revise and reexamine the past? How do our human memories and imaginations give rise to the stories we tell and to the selves that we are becoming? In this course we consider the nature of memory and its relationship to imagination, both in the evolving life of the individual and in the development of the larger group or culture. We regard the self, then, as both singular and collective, fixed and in flux, determined inwardly and shaped by external forces. This course will address these questions by tracing the interconnections between memory and the literatures through close readings of memories, novels, poems, short stories, films and graphic art. Fulfills SAS Core Requirement AHo or AHp. Cross-listing 013:346:01 or 685:347:01.

Required Texts: Course readings uploaded to the Sakai course website at

1. Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Memory in the Flesh

2. Ghassan Kanafani, Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa & Other Stories

3. Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza

4. Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts

5. Samar Yazbek, A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution