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Modern Arabic Literature



This course is taught in Arabic and English

Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies, specialisation Arabic Studies or the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) with sufficient knowledge of Arabic (three year of education at BA-level; level B2 European Common Framework, i.e. at least 80 EC = 2240 hs of language courses at BA level). Please, contact the instructor of the course, Drs. R.E. Kon, if you are interested in taking this course, but NOT a student admitted to one of the above-mentioned master programmes or if you are not confident regarding your level of Arabic.


Focus of the course will be Arabic novels, short stories and poetry in their literary and historical context. A general, theoretical introduction will be given at the beginning of the seminar, focusing on methods to analyze literary narratives. Special attention will be given to narratology and to formal aspects (intertextuality, metafiction or polyphony, to name but a few) of the texts read. Readings are based on background literature as well as Arabic short stories, novels and poetry.

Course objectives

Students will be familiarized with developments in the study of modern Arabic literature. Through the close reading of Arabic novels, short stories and poetry they will enhance their knowledge of literary language of both the Mashriq and the Maghreb and be able at the end of the course to conduct an analysis of the formal aspects of a literary narrative using concepts of narratology. The course will also enhance their level of spoken interaction and reading since classes are partly performed in Arabic and students are expected to read source materials in Arabic.
Giving oral presentations and writing an academic paper will be trained.



Method of instruction

  • Seminar.

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the instructor and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course load

  • classes: 13 × 2 hs = 26 hs

  • preparation for classes 13 × 8 hs = 104 hs

  • preparation for presentations 50 hs

  • final paper 100 hs
    Total = 10 EC = 280 hs

Assessment method

  • Participation and performance in weekly assignments 20%

  • Two oral presentations 30%

  • Final paper (4,000 words) (50%) to be completed before the end of the course. A printed draft version is to be presented and discussed during the course (=second presentation); the feedback given by the instructor and fellow students must be integrated into the final version.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. A new version of the final assignment may be written if the overall mark for the course is “5.49” (=5) or lower. If students take this option, they must choose an alternative topic. They will not be permitted to resubmit the same paper. The deadline for this version will be determined in consultation.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Blackboard Blackboard

Reading list

M. Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the theory of Narrative, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
Additional readings (background literature as well as Arabic short stories, novel extracts and poetry) to be found on Blackboard.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

(Studeren à la carte is not possible for this course.)

Contact information

Drs. R.E. Kon.


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).