Bang Bang Bang: Introducing Arabic Literature in the Classroom

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In teaching Arabic literature, we are continuously brokering the culture of the Middle East to our students. Teaching any literature provides a venue to make the culture accessible to students. Teaching Arabic Literature in Translation, however, brings multiple challenges. A teacher confronts a complex task that includes many elements two of which I will address: students' expectations as well as addressing stereotypes in order to unveil the culture. The first challenge is meeting the students’ expectations: How much history and culture can be covered in a literature survey course? What is “essential” for a background? These are questions that our conversation may help to answer. The next challenge is to question stereotypes in order to move towards a less biased understanding of the culture and its values. Students—and teachers too—may come to the class with certain fixed ideas about a culture. Breaking the “already set knowledge” and clarifying cultural norms create our opportunity to broaden the awareness of our students. Our conversation may facilitate ways to accomplish our goals.


Keywords: Arabic, English
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies , Teaching and Learning , Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr Maysa Hayward

Professor, English Department, Ocean College
Toms River, New Jersey, USA

Maysa Abou-Youssef Hayward, Professor in the English Department of Ocean County College, received her PhD in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a focus on translation. She has been an active teacher, researcher, and presenter in the area of international education. As a teacher, she designed and has taught the course Arabic Literature in Translation, has developed and taught World Literature, and has taught courses in Arabic for the United Nations. Her research, publications, and presentations in the field have sought to make Arabic literature accessible to American students and have looked for ways to globalize and internationalize the curriculum. In addition, she has developed grants to promote international education, such as a three year project at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for the exchange of graduate students, and the Fulbright fellowship for Inas Abou-Youssef to teach for two semesters at Ocean County College.

Ref: H08P0181