Arabic Language and Literature

  • Department Interdisciplinary
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Coursework

Assistant Professor of Arabic Anthony Edwards instructs students Assistant Professor of Arabic Anthony Edwards instructs students

The Arabic curriculum at W&L is designed to reflect the rich linguistic literary and cultural diversity of the Middle East. In the classroom we adopt a learner-centered approach that encourages students to actively engage with speaking, listening, reading, and writing Arabic.


Arabic at W&L adopts a communicative approach to language learning, training students in Modern Standard Arabic and the Levantine vernacular simultaneously. In this globalized century, proficient students can pursue careers in diplomacy, education, business, law, interpretation/translation, journalism, intelligence and more. 

Arabic at W&L is housed in the Middle East and South Asia (MESA) Studies Program. Students may focus on Arabic language if they minor in Middle East and South Asia Studies with Language Emphasis (MESAL).

In addition to first-, second- and third-year Arabic, courses include Special Topics in Arabic Culture and Literature, as well as Directed Individual Study.

“Arabic at W&L has always challenged me but has kept me engaged every step of the way through diverse ways of learning and relevant content.”

Jonathan Pezzi
Class of 2019

Seth Cantey

Program Head

Kerri Ritter

Administrative Assistant


Anthony Edwards, professor of Arabic

Shared Language

Anthony Edwards, professor of Arabic, brings his boundless energy to his teaching, research and mentorship of students.

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Thomas deBuchananne ’27 Awarded CIE Arabic Summer Scholarship

Washington and Lee’s Center for International Education awarded deBuchananne funding to study Arabic at the University of Jordan this summer.

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W&L Arabic Professor Publishes Paper in International Peer-Reviewed University Journal

Anthony Edwards’ article focuses on the 19th-century Orientalist Gregory M. Wortabet.

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W&L Arabic Professor Publishes Paper in International Peer-Reviewed Journal

Anthony Edwards illustrates his case study that focuses on Khalīl al-Khūrī, a central figure of the Nahḍa.

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W&L’s Edwards Featured in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Arabic professor Anthony Edwards recently published a paper titled “Becoming the Muʿallim: how tradition and innovation made a Nahḍa icon.”

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Brandon Bishop and Aliya Gibbons '26

Bishop ’26 and Gibbons ’26 Awarded CIE Arabic Summer Scholarship

Washington and Lee's Center for International Education awarded two students funding to study Arabic at the University of Jordan this summer.

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Beautiful fall day on campus

W&L Faculty Members Present Papers at 2022 MESA Conference in Denver

Anthony Edwards, Theodore Van Loan and Kameliya Atanasova were featured at the annual event.

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Timothy Lubin and Anthony Edwards

W&L Professors Each Present Papers at the 34th Deutscher Orientalistentag

Timothy Lubin and Anthony Edwards both presented at the event held in Berlin earlier this month.

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Anne Riter '22

W&L’s Anne Riter ’22 Awarded Fulbright to Austria

Riter will spend the next academic year volunteering with a community organization, working as an English teaching assistant and taking courses at the University of Graz.

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Six W&L Students Awarded Critical Language Scholarships

Six undergraduate students received Critical Language Scholarships, which will provide them the opportunity to study language intensively during summer 2022.

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Program Spotlight: Center for International Education – Study Abroad

Approximately 70% of students participate in an abroad program during their time at W&L.

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Anthony Edwards

W&L’s Edwards Publishes Paper in Journal

Arabic professor Anthony Edwards recently published “An Incomplete Journey Away from the Past: The Life and Ideas of Antonius Ameuney (1821–1881).”

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

ARAB 111, 161, 211


First-year Arabic is an introductory course in written and spoken Arabic, focusing on basic grammar and speaking. Aspects of Arab culture are introduced.

Second-year Arabic builds on grammar and vocabulary knowledge and emphasizes speaking and writing, as well as listening comprehension and reading. Students are introduced to popular Arab culture.

Third-year Arabic expands on grammar concepts and vocabulary knowledge with practical applications of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Social and political aspects of Arab culture are introduced.

ARAB 210-01

Media Arabic

A language-focused course that provides students with vocabulary and discourse structures common in today’s Arabic media coverage. Weekly topics are culled from various news outlets (e.g., Al-Jazeera, AJ-Arabiyya, BBC Arabic, YouTube, AJ-Ahram, An-Nahar, AI-Dustour) which serve to familiarize students with a broad range of current sociopolitical, economic and cultural issues.


Special Topics in Arab Lit & Culture

An advanced seminar on a particular author, period or genre. Topics may include Arab Short Stories, Classical Arabic Poetry, Travelogues in Arabic Literature, Arabic Pop Culture and Music, and Arabic Media. The subject changes annually. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

LIT 295-02

Arab World Through Film

The geopolitical importance of the Arab world and the legacy of Orientalism reduce “the Arab” and the region to stereotypes and misrepresentations. In order to challenge these depictions, this course asks: “How does Arab cinema represent contemporary Arab society?” The course introduces the student to the vibrant and dynamic cultures of the Arab world through the medium of film. We will analyze, uphold, and challenge issues of social and cultural significance in the region. We will examine portrayals of “the Arab” and “the Middle East” in the American cinema, study the history of Arab cinema, and explore the techniques that Arab filmmakers employ to represent their social, political, and religious world.

ARAB 225

Arabic Dialects

Taught in Arabic, this course serve as an introduction to three Arabic dialects, in particular those used in Morocco, Egypt, and the Emirates. Students learn the sounds, key vocabulary, and sentence structures particular to these dialects, and develop their listening comprehension abilities and communication skills. This practical course is designed to prepare students to engage in authentic interactions with Arabic speakers in North Africa and the Middle East.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Jumana S. Al-Ahmad
Jumana S. Al-Ahmad

Jumana S. Al-Ahmad

Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic

Jumana Al-Ahmad’s research focuses on the intersection of religion, culture and human rights with attention to the thought and activism of women intellectuals in Tunisia and across the Maghrib. She teaches Arabic language, as well as courses on Islamic feminism, social justice, and Qur’anic studies.

Anthony (Antoine) Edwards

Anthony (Antoine) Edwards

Assistant Professor of Arabic

Edwards teaches courses in Arabic at all levels as well as a course on the Arab world through film. His research centers around Arabic language and grammar as well as the histories and ideologies of Arabic.

Curriculum Vitae

Jumana S. Al-Ahmad

More to Explore

Students studying Arabic at Washington and Lee may apply for special scholarships or take part in study abroad, internships and co-curricular or extracurricular activities.

Study Abroad

See the World

Study abroad at American University in Dubai (AUD) (Dubai, UAE); the American University of Beirut (AUB); the American University in Sharjah (AUS) (Sharjah, UAE); CET (Amman, Jordan); CIEE (Amman, Jordan); AALIM (Meknes, Morocco); AMIDEAST (Morocco, Jordan).


Gain Experience

Arabic students at W&L have worked in a variety of internships in politics, diplomacy, education, journalism, business, marketing, law or intelligence.


Get Funding

  • Critical Language Scholarship (CLS): intensive study abroad, funded by the U.S. government
  • Summer Arabic Language and Media (SALAM) Scholarship: intensive study abroad, funded by the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (Omani government)
  • NSEP Boren: Government funded for less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests
  • William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship Program at AUD: funds study abroad in Dubai at the AUD

  • Extracurriculars

    Be Involved

    All Arabic students are invited to participate in movie nights, calligraphy lessons, cooking lessons, dance lessons, spoken word night, occasional guest speakers and the annual WLUArabic Lunch.

    Students may also work with the Association for Middle East Interests (AMEI), a campus student group dedicated to informing the student body and Rockbridge-area community about the Middle East.